New Olympic Village elementary school receives preliminary BC government approval

Jun 24 2022, 4:54 pm

The highly sought new elementary school for Vancouver’s Olympic Village neighbourhood is moving into the next stage of planning after the concept plan received its preliminary approval this week from the provincial government’s Ministry of Education and Child Care.

The concept plan is the first phase of a two-phase approval process, which will identify the final funding approval needed before the Vancouver School Board (VSB) can begin the detailed design and construction of the new school.

“This is an exciting step forward for the District. A new elementary school in Olympic Village has been a priority of the Board for many years and we are pleased to see it advance,” said the Green Party’s Janet Fraser, the chair of the VSB, in a statement.

“We’ve heard directly from families the importance of having children attend schools in their own neighbourhood, particularly for growing communities in Vancouver such as Olympic Village.”

This also follows the February 2021 approval of the 99-year lease for the school site between the school board and the City of Vancouver. At the time, the terms of the lease agreement were yet to be finalized, but this step has since been accomplished.

It was previously stated that the lease agreement would stipulate that funding must be obtained and construction must start no later than the end of January 2024.

The future school site is located on the east side of Hinge Park, within an open grass parcel at the southwest corner of the intersection of Athletes Way and Columbia Street — on the west side of the Olympic Village, and just south of the False Creek seawall. This location aligns with the city’s 2007-approved Southeast False Creek Official Development Plan, which called for a future elementary school at this specific site.

Olympic Village Southeast False Creek school

Master plan of Southeast False Creek, which includes the Olympic Village. The location of the planned elementary school at Hinge Park is circled in red. (City of Vancouver / Daily Hive)

olympic village elementary school location

Site of the future Olympic Village elementary school. (City of Vancouver)

Olympic Village elementary school

The large open grassy site at Hinge Park in Vancouver’s Olympic Village is slated to become an elementary school and daycare. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Based on the VSB’s facilities plan, this new Kindergarten to Grade 7 school will have about 500 seats. There will also be a childcare facility, which will be subleased by the VSB back to the municipal government over the duration of the lease.

For many years, there have been calls for the provincial government to expedite the new Olympic Village school to serve as additional capacity for Vancouver’s central core area.

New school capacity has not kept up with the significant residential developments built across the downtown peninsula, Southeast False Creek, and Central Broadway areas, which have seen an influx of families with children. This has forced parents to send their kids to other school catchment areas where there is available school capacity.

There will be even more demand over the coming decades from the 15,000 residents expected in the Northeast False Creek developments, 50,000 in the newly approved Broadway Plan area, and 9,000 in the Senakw project.

“The Olympic Village school has been needed in our community for over a decade,” said Brenda Bailey, the BC NDP MLA for Vancouver-False Creek, in a statement.

The new school was a campaign promise made by the BC NDP during its Fall 2020 election campaign, but it has been criticized ever since for not progressing the project more quickly. Today’s announcement also comes just ahead of the October 2020 civic election.

“I have heard first-hand from the families that have been negatively affected by not having a school in their community and it is their stories that drive me in working to get this school built. I’m delighted that our government is taking the next important step required to move forward with this school, to support the children and families in the False Creek and Olympic Village neighbourhoods,” continued Bailey.

Other new schools planned for the area in and near downtown include a new Henry Hudson elementary school in Kitsilano, but it is a seismic replacement that provides limited added capacity.

A BC Hydro substation project in downtown’s West End will also result in a new replacement Lord Annex elementary school and the new additional Coal Harbour elementary school, which will provide added capacity.

The 2017-built Crossroads elementary school, located next to Rogers Arena, is the last new school to open in downtown Vancouver.

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