Home Education Business plan underway for third SD62 west shore high school

Business plan underway for third SD62 west shore high school

Fast-growing west shore will see another high school in Langford by 2032.

sd62, school announcement, langford
MLAs, city and school district leadership gathered to celebrate a third high school proposed for Langford within SD62, May 21, 2024. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Tuesday May 21, 2024 | LANGFORD, BC [Last update May 22, 2024]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

The new proposed third high school in the west shore could be as tall as 3-storeys to accommodate student population growth in the west shore of Greater Victoria.

The largest school on Vancouver Island right now is Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood with more than 1,600 students while at least one high school on the lower mainland (New West Senior Secondary) has as many as 2,200 students.

paul block, sd62, superintendent
SD62 Superintendent Paul Block at the announcement about a third high school being planned for Langford, May 21, 2024. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Land for a third Sooke School District 62 (SD62) high school in the west shore was purchased several years ago on McCallum Road (near CostCo for those who know the Langford turf). Based on SD62 student population projections there will be demand of at least 1,500 student registrants by the time the school would open in 2032. That’s the current population size of Belmont Secondary School in Langford.

In the meantime, there are no two ways around it… students will be attending high school in Langford and Colwood in an increasing number of portable classrooms, said Sooke School District 62 (SD62) Superintendent Paul Block today. Not only are portables considered to be a less desirable learning environment there is additional operational cost to move them and set them up.

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SD62 schools are in Langford, Colwood and Sooke (plus an elementary school in each of Metchosin and Port Renfrew).

There is also the Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) high school in Sooke, which is beyond the Langford/Colwood west shore area.

Rainy day announcement:

The outdoor announcement about the next high school for Langford was made on this rainy Tuesday on the construction site of an elementary school in south Langford.

Organizers kindly provided tents for most of the guests, while the podium VIPs ended up not under a tent.

Announcing the high school plans for north Langford was a long-anticipated moment of excitement.

sd62, high school announcement, langford, May 2024
MLAs, city and school district leadership gathered to celebrate a third high school proposed for Langford within SD62, May 21, 2024. From left: SD62 Trustee Christine Lervold, SD62 Trustee Cendra Beaton, SD62 Trustee Trudy Spiller, Langford Councillor Kimberley Guiry, SD62 Board Chair Amanda Dowhy, Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson, MLA Ravi Parmar (Langford-Juan de Fuca), Langford Councillor Mark Morley, Langford Councillor Keith Yacucha, MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin), Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak, Langford Councillor Mary Wagner, and SD62 Trustee Allison Watson. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]
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Fast population growth:

SD62 has been dealing with student population growth on a non-stop basis since 2014 due to the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) regional growth strategy which long ago planned for Greater Victoria residential growth to take place in the west shore region (primarily in Langford, Colwood and Sooke).

Each year since 2014 the student enrolment in SD62 schools has increased by 300 to 500 students per year; that’s the equivalent of one elementary school (480 students) each year. It’s been Paul Block over the years who has been crunching the student population projections, in previous roles as Associate Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent; he became Superintendent in January 2024.

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Most of the SD62 schools are in Langford, Colwood and Sooke — all of which are fast-growing communities beyond the Victoria/Saanich core.

Third highschool in west shore:

The ‘north Langford’ highschool proposed for the McCallum Road area of north Langford will be the third high school in the SD62 school district; Langford’s population is now about 55,000, Colwood about 21,000 and Sooke over 17,000.

Across BC, about 10,000 more people arrive in the province every 37 days (as first stated by Premier David Eby in recent weeks); this is driven by BC’s improved social safety net as well as labour force needs.

The current high schools in SD62 are Belmont Secondary School in Langford (the first high school in Langford was on Jacklin Road for decades, with the new ‘Belmont 2.0’ replacing that school in a new location in Westhills which opened in 2015) and Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood (which also opened in 2015). Both schools are at or beyond student capacity.

ravi parmar, mitzi dean
MLA Ravi Parmar (Langford-Juan de Fuca) and MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) leading the new Langford high school announcement on an elementary school construction site on May 21, 2024. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Tnreds]

From announcement and business plan in 2024 to a new school proposed to open in 2032 is a long time for a growing region and for families whose kids will go through many years attending the presently overflowing schools.

Gunning for a bigger school:

Today SD62 Superintendent Paul Block said a lot of additional portables will be needed at Belmont and Royal Bay until the new school opens.

“We definitely want it bigger,” Superintendent Block told Island Social Trends today about the plan for the third west shore high school. “I think we’ve learned that building for 1,400 is not working for our community. We’ll be working with our partners at the Ministry of Education to advocate for a school that is significantly larger,” he said.

12-acre site:

The current land owned by SD62 on McCallum Road is 12 acres, said SD62 Board Chair Amanda Dowhy told Island Social Trends today.

The business case for including a theatre will depend on building footprint of the school, field and theatre. More land might need to be purchased in order to include a theatre, said Block.

Getting started with a plan:

“We’re taking action by supporting new secondary school projects in one of the fastest-growing school districts in the province,” said Minister of Education and Child Care Rachna Singh in a news release today. With this announcement, planning for additional student seats at a new Langford secondary school can start, the Ministry stated.

  • “Supported to begin planning” means government is supporting the school district to proceed with developing a business case for a new secondary school.
  • When finalized, the business case, which will detail the scope, schedule and budget for the project, will be brought forward to government for final funding approval.
  • Depending on the scale of a project, a finalized business case takes about eight months.
  • Following funding approval, the project proceeds to design and construction.
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Sharing amenities with the municipality:

With excitement, the sharing of amenities with the City of Langford was announced.

The municipality will upgrade what would otherwise be a natural grass field at the new high school to instead include artificial turf and lighting. A nearby or adjoined theatre will be part of the proposed school design, as a way to provide arts community access.

A similar setup of an all-weather sports field next to new schools was announced in Westhills in July 2023.

School district revenues:

Bookings for the use of sports fields, theatres and multi-purpose spaces provide revenue opportunities for the SD62 school district, including by community groups. School locations are now being used for film-shoots as well (Royal Bay Secondary is the first such location).

ribbon cutting, north langford, field, sd62
Official ribbon-cutting of the North Langford Elementary Artificial Turf Field by Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson and SD62 Interim Board Chair Amanda Dowhy, together with soccer academy students Brooklyn Erb (left) and Sage Cung, July 6, 2023. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Other additional revenues come from International Students registrations. Baseline revenues come from the provincial government based on a per-pupil ratio plus additional funds for specialized delivery like special needs students.

soil workshop, april 2024
Community group held a workshop in the outdoor area at Pexsisen Elementary in April 2024 — facility space rented out by SD62. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Block explained today that sports field rentals used to be handled by West Shore Parks & Recreation (a separate entity owned by five municipalities – Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Highlands and Metchosin). Now SD62 handles all the field rentals, with benefits to Langford taxpayers, said Block.

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Who was there:

A significant crowd of VIPs attended the announcement today. Leading the announcement at the podium from the provincial government were Ravi Parmar, MLA (Langford-Juan de Fuca) and Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin).

Parmar was the SD62 school board chair for nearly 10 years before winning the Langford-Juan de Fuca by-election in June 2023 and Dean has been a west shore leader since her election in 2017 (re-election 2020).

Both Parmar and Dean will be interested in promoting their support for education during the upcoming 2024 BC provincial election campaign (election is October 19, 2024). Parmar is currently Parliamentary Secretary for International Credentials and Dean is currently Minister of State for Child Care.

sd62 board chair, amanda dowhy
SD62 Board Chair Amanda Dowhy announcing the business plan stage of a new high school for Langford, on May 21, 2025. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Also at the podium today was SD62 Board Chair Amanda Dowhy. SD62 board trustees on hand were Cendra Beaton, Christine Lervold, Trudy Spiller, and Allison Watson.

SD62 school administration attending today included Superintendent Paul Block, Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull, Deputy Superintendent Monica Braniff, Lead Educator for Capital Planning & Projects Windy Beadall, and Manager of Strategic Communications Kristen McGillivray.

scott goodmanson, may 2024
City of Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson at SD62 school announcement on May 21, 2024. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Attending from the City of Langford were Mayor Scott Goodmanson and Councillors Kimberley Guiry, Mark Morley, Lillian Szpak, Mary Wagner and Keith Yacucha.

Senior city staff at the construction site announcement today included Darren Kiedyk, CAO and Braden Hutchins, Director of Corporate Services.

Media in attendance today included CBC, CTV, CHEK, Times Colonist, and Island Social Trends.

sd62, langford, school site
VIPs gathering for the new north Langford high school business plan announcement, on the construction site of the upcoming elementary school in south Langford, May 21, 2024. [Island Social Trends]


Over the past seven years, government has provided approximately $270 million to create approximately 2,660 new student seats in the Sooke School District. This includes the new Pexsisen Elementary and Centre Mountain Lellum Middle school (which opened in Fall 2022), an addition to Royal Bay Secondary (back in 2018) and SĆIȺNEW̱ SṮEȽIṮḴEȽ Elementary in south Langford (under construction, and site for today’s announcement) which will be a 480-seat school with on-site child care.

Many facets of dealing with continued robust population growth in the footprint of SD62 is integral to all decision-making in the school district. As the targeted housing growth area (as part of the Capital Regional District’s regional growth strategy), the west shore and Sooke have seen continued new housing since about 2010.

dumont tirecraft, sooke

The development of an Arts and Culture Master Plan is articulated in the City of Langford’s first strategic plan. Increasing the number of schools in Langford is part of the city’s advocacy, it was stated in a City of Langford news release today.

The McCallum Road site for the proposed new Langford high school was already on the drawing board for SD62 and the City of Langford, well before the current municipal council and current board of trustees. A driver at that time was a vision by previous Langford Mayor Stew Young for a theatre in the McCallum Road business and residential district.

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Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke attended nearly every Sooke School District (SD62) board and committee meeting from 2014 to 2022 for an in-depth understanding of the workings of public education in the west shore.

Mary Brooke has four grown children who attended schools in SD61 and SD62. She ran for SD62 school trustee in 2022 to highlight the public education concerns of parents and families.

Previous to launching Island Social Trends online at IslandSocialTrends.ca in 2020 Ms Brooke published MapleLine Magazine (quarterly 2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (weekly 2011-2013) and West Shore Voice News (weekly 2014-2020). Those print publications are permanently archived at the Sooke Region Museum.

Since covering COVID daily in 2020-2022 Ms Brooke has reported alongside the BC Legislative Press Gallery.

In 2023 Mary P Brooke was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation award recognizing her contribution to community through professional journalism.

In 2024, Ms Brooke has launched Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society which provides advocacy to municipalities for food-growing in urban communities.