Oct 2, 2014

With the exterior structure 98% complete, Royal Bay Secondary School on the oceanfront in Colwood is attracting a lot of attention. What do people working on the project say about it? Exceptional project...great teamwork...community minded...exceeding expectations.

It’s rare to hear such glowing terms about a major construction project. Yet these are the very qualities that schools strive to provide for their learners; words every student hopes see on their report card. So it is very fitting that on a recent site tour, everyone from the site superintendent and contractors on the job, to the project manager and the incoming principal talked about the school in the same positive way.

"The School District is thrilled with the design and the progress on Royal Bay Secondary School,” said School District Board Chair, Wendy Hobbs. “It’s going to be an exceptional place to learn. The project is on time and on budget and is a great example of teamwork and a community coming together to support our youth.” 

Rick Wenzoski is the Royal Bay Secondary School site superintendent for DGS Construction. He’s worked on several multi-million dollar projects including Windsor Secondary School in North Vancouver, the Burnaby Lake Sport Complex and the Port Moody Recreation Centre. “Royal Bay Secondary School is one of the best jobs I’ve been on for people working together, including the School District, the City of Colwood, the owner of the Royal Bay site and the contractors and consultants on the job,” said Wenzoski. “Between the exceptional location and the people, it’s been a pleasure.”  

9 reasons Royal Bay Secondary School Rocks

1. Killer waterfront location

Royal Bay Secondary School is set on the waterfront in Colwood. The breathtaking oceanfront location provides views across the Strait of Juan de Fuca that include Mt. Baker and the City of Victoria, right around to the Olympic Mountains of Washington. The stunning, light and airy, glass and steel design of the school takes full advantage of this location and makes people proud to be a part of it.

2. Connected to the community

Royal Bay Secondary School is truly built upon community – including a neighbourhood learning centre, a theatre that will bring the community together for performances and celebrations, partnerships to provide apprenticeships and applied learning, and premiere sports facilities that the school district and municipalities worked together to provide.

3. Space to learn, collaborate and celebrate

School District 62 envisioned a place where students would want to spend time - a school specifically designed to provide an optimal learning environment for a range of learning styles. The open concept, use of natural light, comfortable, flexible spaces and a design that makes the most of its breathtaking natural surroundings were all part of the plan for the new school.

When you walk into what will be the school’s great hall, your eyes are drawn upward to the tall ceiling where windows let the natural light flood in. Classroom spaces with generous windows overlook the large common area. On each floor, there are ‘collaboration spaces’ where students can take their learning outside the classroom for a change of pace or to work in groups. A cultural room at the heart of the school opens out into the commons, and may be used by community groups for gatherings and events.

4. High Tech, Fine Arts and Applied Learning

It’s easy to see where the 350 seat theatre will be, with tiers for seating and space for an orchestra pit in front of the stage, a technical booth at the back and catwalks above for lighting. The school also features dedicated art spaces, high tech learning and media spaces, including a green room for filming. And a teaching cafeteria will allow students to earn certification in food safe and culinary skills.

5. Premiere sports facilities

With a glass wall that will face onto the school commons, the gymnasium is designed to invite people in to take part in sporting events. A rooftop basketball court will draw students out into the fresh air to work off some energy. To one side, the rooftop looks out over a competition-grade rubber asphalt running track – the only one of its kind on the south island. The track will have a grass sports field inside it and an artificial turf field beside it, complete with a field house for athletes training and competing at the school.

6. Built for safety

The construction of the school itself is unique, using a steel exterior structure rooted in 30 seismic concrete pads. Each of the pads is up to 8 feet thick, providing a solid foundation for the building, while giving it the flexibility to handle a major weather event or earthquake.

7. Sustainable by design

Built to LEED Gold standards, environmental sustainability is at the heart of Royal Bay Secondary School. It makes use of recycled and locally sourced materials, is climate controlled by a heat pump with convection fans to draw in fresh air for heat and cooling and takes full advantage of the abundance of passive solar energy. Low E glass keeps the interior comfortable and minimizes ultraviolet light. Everything from the plumbing and paint, to the light fixtures, bear environmental design in mind. In fact, the high efficiency LED lighting is thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from BC Hydro.

8. Learning through building with student apprenticeships

Learning about responsible building practices has already been an excellent side benefit of the project for students in the Belmont High School trades programs. They are getting hands-on experience, working as apprentices building their very own school.

Jeff Smith is a grade 12 student in the Residential Construction trades program at Belmont High School who has been working on Royal Bay Secondary School throughout the summer. “I like working with my hands and I couldn’t see myself working a desk job, so working here is a really good opportunity,” said Smith. “My brother is a couple of years younger than me and he’ll probably be going here. So just to say that I’ve worked on this school and that I helped build it is going to be a really good accomplishment for me.”

This experiential learning is expected to continue as the owner of the Royal Bay development site begins to build homes near the school and has agreed to work with the school district to continue student apprenticeship opportunities in carpentry, electrical and plumbing.

9. Westshore campus concept

With two new schools set to open in September 2015 on the Westshore, a variety of programs and academies will be offered in each location. Students will have the option of taking programs at either school and the school district is looking at ways to make travel easy between the two sites. 

Milestones to watch for

The exterior of the building is 98% complete. Throughout September and October work will continue on the exterior windows and walls to seal the building from the elements. Some interior drywall is already being installed, and this will continue through the winter and spring, along with the installation of lighting and other fixtures.

The rubber asphalt running track is set to be installed this fall so that the field can be seeded for a full year’s growth.

Over the coming months, Ryder Hesjedal Way will take shape as well. This is the road that will connect Latoria Road to the Royal Bay Secondary School entrance. It is specifically designed to encourage students to walk and cycle to school, with a multi-use trail that is safely separated from the road.

Designed to nurture successful students, in a stunning location, with exceptional support and involvement from the surrounding community, Royal Bay Secondary School promises to be a premiere learning facility in the region.

Learn more on the School District 62 website.