Binnie Engineer Sharon Goddard attended the grand opening of Gibsons Elementary School on the corner of School Road and Gibsons Way in Gibsons, BC. The new school replaces the wood frame Gibsons Elementary School built in 1950 and will accommodate 40 kindergarten students and 300 elementary students. (The very first Gibsons Elementary School was built in 1920 and has been preserved as heritage site adjacent to the new school.)

In attendance were teachers, students, Principal Deborah Luporini, MLA Nicolas Simons, School Board representatives, Mayor and council representatives from the Town of Gibsons, Council representatives from Sechelt, as well as former school principals. Festivities included cake, a choir performance and a band.

Nestled into a hill, the new two-storey school has brilliant views of Howe Sound, the islands and mountains, and was designed for accessibility by KMBR Architects. The school boasts a state-of-the-art, acoustically designed music room. The room can also be transformed into a stage; one wall is comprised of an expansive glass garage door that opens up to an outdoor amphitheater. A further benefit of the new school is the 15% additional area to host the Neighborhood Learning Centre which will serve the community through providing child care and early childhood development programs. The project is applying for LEED Gold standards incorporating best practices, sustainable design strategies, energy efficient systems and providing green space play areas for students.

The project was initiated in 2007, when School District 46 decided that seismic upgrades to the aging school were too costly and an energy-efficient replacement school would be more cost-effective and provide a safer environment for students. The School District and the Ministry of Education then entered into a project agreement, with the Ministry providing $14.3 million in funds to build the new school.

In 2011, the School District’s representative, Alkins Project Services Inc., retained Binnie as the civil engineer on the owner’s engineer team for the replacement of the aging school. Binnie scoped the project and developed design criteria in preparation for the selection of the design-builder. We provided expertise on infrastructure upgrades necessary for the new building, such as storm, sanitary, and water services, in addition to sustainable design strategies.

Over the last four years, we monitored the design-builder’s civil engineer for quality assurance, conducted walk-through inspections, and approved changes to the civil engineering design. We provided review of traffic flow around the school and made recommendations on access for parents dropping off their children to school. During project wrap-up, Binnie continued to be involved in project completion site reviews and ensured that all construction is to standard and design specifications.