School division, Province to share building
High River: New $20-million facility to open in 2016
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 09:38 am
Foothills School Division has sent a clear message to High River.
It isn’t about to abandon the community after the biggest natural disaster in Canadian history.
The school division and the provincial government will share a new $20-million building scheduled to open in mid 2016 it was announced Thursday in High River.
Both the division office and the provincial government buildings were wiped out by the June 20th flood.
School division chairwoman Christine Pretty said remaining in High River has always been their number one choice.
“We wanted to support this community and support the kids and the parents in this community,” Pretty said.
She said it is also a lesson to students to help neighbours, not abandon them, when they are in a tough situation.
The new building will be located at the south corner of 4th Avenue and Macleod Trail, where the present government building is located.
Plans were already in place for a new school division office prior to the flood.
“A lack of space has been a challenge for the High River division office for many years now,” Pretty said during a ceremony on Thursday. “It does not make sound fiscal sense to redevelop our offices which were already too small to meet our present needs.”
At present the division’s learning technology team is at Okotoks Junior High School and board meetings are being held at the Highwood Memorial Centre in High River.
The school division administration office was in the former Okotoks police detachment before partially moving back when the High River office was re-opened in April.
High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass said the community has given a collective sigh of relief to have the division office remain in town.
“The number one thing I have to thank the Foothills School Division for is the fact that you stayed in High River,” Snodgrass said. “That was a massive step for this (High River) council that you were showing that kind of commitment.”
He said the government and school division offices “are key components to businesses downtown.”
The division plans to give the building to the province and then lease its offices in the new building.
“We will turn it into a long-term lease,” said Drew Chipman, the division’s assistant superintendent corporate services. “Our building is going to be part of what we contribute towards our lease.”
The present school building will likely be knocked over and the site used for parking.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife, and Child Services were forced to move out of the provincial building on 4th Avenue after the flood.
Those offices along with Disaster Recovery and commercial vehicle enforcement will share the new building when it opens in 2016.