By Lindsey Kuglin
The deconstruction and development of the Walkerton District Secondary School site is “months behind schedule,” according to Brockton’s school board trustee.
“We are only a few weeks away from the start of school and demolition should have long been completed,” Dan Wong told the WHT in an email, Friday.
He said sewers and catch basins still need to be installed, along with sidewalks and curbs, the parking lot still needs to be paved, the elementary playground and new junior soccer field needs to be constructed, trees and bushes need to be planted, and sod laid.
“However, only a mere few weeks before school starts, the above items have not even been started,” Wong said. “We will be cutting it extremely tight in getting the school ready for the elementary students to move in for September.”
The original plan was to have secondary students move into the new Walkerton District Community School after March Break this year, with the elementary following close behind. The high school didn’t move in until the end of April, with many areas of the school off limits, as construction of the building’s interior was still underway.
Wong said there were a few things that slowed the demolition of the WDSS building, such as an additional $250,000 in designated substance removal, including asbestos in underground pipe tunnels and unidentified heating oil tanks. Wong said the removal of the basement rifle range and concrete foundations and walls posed a challenge for the demolition contractor.
“despite the… rationales, I must admit that I am extremely disappointed with the planning and execution of this significant project,” Wong said, adding, “delays and construction chaos has created much stress for both staff and students.”
He said elementary teachers have used much of their summer holidays packing up their old classrooms and setting up their new ones.
And while the interior of WDCS is now complete, the outside could pose a challenge if not complete by the first day of school.
“The biggest concern is that the elementary playground is completed on time. It would be extremely challenging to have 400+ elementary students with no playground,” Wong said.
In the event that the playground isn’t ready, he said they could use the Brant Central grounds across the road, “if something catastrophic occurs, such as an incomplete playground.”
However, he said he’s still hopeful that construction will be done by the first day of school, and that “the safety of staff and students is first and foremost and we will NOT be repeating what happened with the secondary transition into the new school.”
He said that the $21 million build has been shrouded in negativity the past few months, but hopes that will turn around as the project nears completion.
“We do need to look at the positives as it will in fact be a wonderful state of the art school once it is completed. It will be a wonderful addition for Brockton,” he said. “Hopefully we will learn from this project to avoid similar challenges with future builds.”
Wong thanked the staff and students for their patience and support throughout the transition. “I realize it has not been easy. I also commend the staff for investing many personal weeks packing and getting their classrooms set up.”
The first day of school for elementary students is Sept. 4.