FVSD construction season shows improvements to every school and sustained local employment

Construction and infrastructure improvements made to every Fort Vermilion School Division school provided close to 140 area residents with sustained employment during the pandemic this year.

With $4.1 million in funding from the Provincial government, including $2.5 million in flexible Construction Maintenance and Renewal funding and the rest falling under Infrastructure and Renewal funding, FVSD was able to start or complete more than 30 projects and made improvements on every FVSD school.

And with the exception of one external expert who helped with mechanical system programming, all of those jobs were done by local trades in the Mackenzie region and Town of High Level – creating extended employment opportunities for about 140 people.

“In a time where the economy was extremely flat around construction, it was great for FVSD to be able to have the flexibility to pump more than $4 million into our region to get people back to work,” said FVSD Superintendent Mike McMann.

“The improvements were focused around the health and safety of kids as we continue to move through this pandemic.”

“Personally, I want to thank the province for giving us flexibility with that CRM funding. And big thanks to local trades in our communities who worked efficiently on all our projects,” he added.

One of the largest projects will help with safety for anyone on a FVSD bus moving forward. The division purchased camera systems that have now been installed on all FVSD buses. The cameras are intended to capture high definition video of anyone who puts the lives of children in danger by passing buses when they are picking up or dropping students off. This program has already resulted in several videos of drivers illegally passing buses – and those videos have been handed over to the RCMP.

Another large project involves the ventilation systems in schools. Smoke damage from the Chuckegg Creek Fire in 2019 resulted in $5 million in insurance costs to FVSD schools. These changes will better protect the facilities from smoke exposure.

Other projects included the construction of a community kitchen, a number of playground upgrades, more than $140,000 in grounds maintenance, an increase to play areas, grass reseeding, and soccer fields.

There were also upgrades to mechanical systems, flat roof repairs, parking lot repairs, and lighting issues being addressed. All schools had ground issues addressed, their parking lots resurfaced and painted, and their carbon monoxide detectors upgraded.

Larger upgrades include continued work on domestic water tie-ins at Hill Crest Community School and Rocky Lane School.

Additionally, two portables were moved from Rainbow Lake School in order to set up an Essential Services building, amalgamating several departments – including maintenance, IT, transportation, and health and safety – as well a home base for half the new At-Home Learning Centre (the other half operates out of Spirit of the North Community School).

“We are very thankful for the Provincial government provide us with these funds,” said McMann.