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A school with no name

New elementary school in South Langford is yet to be named.

Wednesday March 15, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated March 17, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

The tender for the construction bid for building the upcoming elementary school in south Langford goes live today.

That was the big read-out at the Sooke School District (SD62) board of education meeting last night, leaving behind any hope of receiving funds from the City of Langford for a joint-use artificial turf playing field.

The 480-seat school is in quiet residential area of Langford near the municipal border with Colwood. Both Langford and Colwood are in the SD62 footprint.

top names, south langford, elementary
Top 12 names for the upcoming SD62 elementary school in South Langford, presented Feb 15, 2023. [Island Social Trends]

No school name discussion:

Meanwhile, the upcoming school has no name.

Last month, SD62 said the school naming decision would be done at the March 14, 2023 board meeting. The February 15 public community meeting about the new school name was a lead-up to the March decision, the public was told at the time.

new school, latoria
New school coming to 804 Latoria Road near Klahanie Drive in Langford. [June 2022 photo]

However, the quiet elephant in the room at last night’s board meeting was zero verbal mention of the naming process for the new south Langford school.

The printed agenda Item 7.2 Capital Update did note that “staff are still working through the consultation process of naming the school and once completed, a short list of names will be provided to the Board for their consideration”.

Name input at February 15 meeting:

At the March 14 board meeting, the board chair did not take the opportunity to thank the school community and public for their input on the name. He did mention the February 15 public gathering at PEXISISEN Elementary.

That evening (on February 15), SD62 staff and trustees seemed surprised that ‘so many’ people showed up for the naming/design announcement. There was really no design to present (just a dizzying fast-action virtual tour), and the names were posted old-school style on a bulletin board for passive viewing.

ravi parmar, school name
SD62 Board Chair Ravi Parmar at the south Langford school naming event, Feb 15, 2023. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Remaining piece:

As the public consultation on school naming has been done — online using the whoever-comes-first algorithm-driven ThoughtExchange, and receiving emails and letters, the remaining piece is the Indigenous consultation.

Taking time for the Indigenous meeting process could be seen as the right thing to do, as in taking time to get that piece right in the spirit of reconciliation.

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A statement from the Sooke School District 62 office was received by Island Social Trends on March 16: “The consultation for the naming of the new elementary school with our Indigenous stakeholders is ongoing. It will be on the agenda once consultation has concluded.”

Possibly contentious:

As Island Social Trends wrote last month, the school name debate could become contentious.

With both a recent former premier (John Horgan, MLA, Langford-Juan de Fuca) and a recent former Langord mayor (Stew Young) on the short list of names (Top 12 names from public consultation), there might be an inclination to sidestep both of those for now. Though that might end up being seen (or felt) as a missed opportunity.

In light of the Horgan/Young name toss up, it might be more comfortable for SD62 and its chair, Ravi Parmar, to delay the naming, given that Parmar might soon announce his candidacy for MLA in Langford-Juan de Fuca after Horgan fully retires from provincial politics at the end of this month.

horgan, stew young
Proud political partners in bringing the new Royal Roads Univeristy West Shore post secondary campus to fruition, Premier John Horgan and Langford Mayor Stew Young shared a photo-moment at the construction site, August 3, 2022. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

There are other schools in the works for future years (an elementary school on Leigh Road and a high school on McCallum Road, both in Langford). Either of those could proudly carry the name of Stew Young more appropriately, given their location to stadium and high-profile commercial areas. It might be more appropriate to name this newest upcoming school (opening Sept 2025) after John Horgan, whose present departure from politics will still feel fresh in two years’ time.

New school must open in Sept 2025:

Any capital project likes to meet its planning schedule, but especially due to rapid growth in the west shore area, SD62 wants to make sure the new elementary school in south Langford opens its doors on the scheduled September 2025 date.

Part of keeping to the timeline was going ahead with the construction bid today without City of Langford funding for the school field which — with city funding — would have been a shared “community amenity”, with artificial turf and big lights for using the field at night.

In a two-pronged political effort to keep attention away from the perceived lack of cooperation with the municipality, three of the more experienced trustees (Vice-Chair Amanda Dowhy and Trustee Cendra Beaton, echoed by Chair Parmar) pitched that construction planning, bidding and work on the ground must be kept on schedule.

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SD62 forging ahead without City support for shared sports field (Mar 14, 2023)

City of Langford will support the Westhills YM/YWCA (Mar 6, 2023)

Top picks for new school name include recent premier and mayor (Feb 16, 2023)

New Langford middle school opens at 74% capacity (Nov 14, 2022)

‘Best Board in BC’: diversity and lived experience (Nov 2, 2022)

Another new school to be built in west-shore SD62 (June 14, 2022)

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mary p brooke
Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends

Island Social Trends is a professional news portal at islandsocialtrends.ca . Fully online since mid-2020, Island Social Trends emerged from the extensive groundwork of previous print publications in the west shore: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).

Since 2008, journalist and editor Mary P Brooke has taken a socioeconomic lens to news analysis about the west shore and south Vancouver Island region, including BC provincial news, and national news impacts.

Ms Brooke has been covering news of School District 62 (SD62) at the board and committee level, including attending nearly all of their meetings since 2014. Mary P Brooke was a school trustee candidate (SD62 Belmont Zone – Langford, Colwood, Metchosin and Highlands) in the October 2022 election, as a service to community.