What will become the Capital Region’s newest elementary school is now under construction along Latoria Road in south Langford.
South Langford Elementary School, coming to the 400-block of Latoria Road within the SD62 Sooke School District, will accommodate approximately 480 students in a kindergarten to grade five format across roughly 45,000 square feet.
Architecturally conceived around the theme of a “tree house embedded into rugged terrain,” along with facade design elements emulating tall trees and light filtering through a forest, architects at Thinkspace designed the mass timber-built campus as an inspiration for students “to explore their environment through natural play and discovery.”
Situated on a smaller-than-average school site, South Langford Elementary (which will be renamed by the district at a later time) will feature a full-size soccer pitch, and is comprised of 20 learning spaces, plus a daycare.
Thinkspace says the building will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% through its mass timber construction materials, along with “increased insulation in wall assemblies, strategic use of heat pumps and heat recovery systems, and photovoltaic cells on the roof.”
Completion is targeted for 2025.
District 62, meanwhile, is facing a classroom space deficit of well over 2,000 seats by the second half of the decade, and will require significant capital investments for more schools amid surging growth, meaning a project like South Langford Elementary is a crucial, albeit small, piece of a much larger strategy.
“We have reached a critical point in our growth as a district. Without approvals for new schools and additions, we are projecting a deficit of nearly 1350 seats for the upcoming school year and another 2500 by 2027,” said Amanda Dowhy, Interim Chair for the Sooke School District Board of Education, in June of this year, and added:
“Continuing to fund portables as a space mitigation strategy is not sustainable for any growing district, but for one growing as quickly as ours, it could prove detrimental to the quality of education if our Board is forced to choose between spaces for students and educational supports. Our operating budget needs to be focused on supporting the learning journey of our students and not on purchasing or moving portables to accommodate them. We need new schools and increased spaces, and we need those today.”
Pending investments from government over the next five years for planning and construction, the district is hoping to open new schools in north Langford (both elementary and secondary campuses), a new elementary in south Colwood, a middle school in north Langford or south Colwood, and an elementary school in Sooke. It is also seeking capital for expansions at Ruth King Elementary in Langford, Spencer Middle School in Langford, Edward Milne Community School in Sooke, David Cameron Elementary in Colwood, Millstream Elementary in Langford, and at its Westshore Secondary individual learning program sites in Colwood and Sooke. C