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Labour shortages, supply-chain issues delay opening of new high school in Duncan

Quw’utsun Secondary School now expected to open in January

The opening of the new Quw’utsun Secondary School has been delayed.

The long-time plan was for construction of the new approximately $85-million school to be completed in time for students at the current Cowichan Secondary School to begin classes there at the beginning of the next school year in September.

But the Cowichan Valley School District has announced that the opening has been postponed until January, 2025, due to the concurrent challenges of labour shortages and supply-chain issues, the same problems that have been plaguing other infrastructure projects across the province.


The aging, almost 75 year-old secondary school on James Street, which was previously scheduled to close in June, will now have to continue operations through to Christmas.

However, Jeff Rowan, the school district’s director of communications, said some areas of the new nearby school on University Way, including the metal and woodworking shops, are expected to be completed in time for the new school year in September, and students in these classes would be expected to walk the approximately one block between the two schools to get to those classes until the new school fully opens in January.

“We cannot wait to welcome students, staff, and the community to Quw’utsun Secondary School,” said Cathy Schmidt, chair of the school board.

“While it is disappointing that we will not be able to do that in September, we need to ensure everything is done in a way that honours the advocacy of our community over the decades and the work of our staff and students throughout this build. We thank Urban One Builders and all the subcontractors who have had a hand in building QSS for their dedication to this school and to our community.”


The school district said the postponement of the new school’s opening does have some benefits.

“For example, the Neighbourhood Learning Centre, that includes the Indigenous Cultural and Language Centre and the Quw’utsun Youth Health Centre, are being developed in collaboration with our invaluable partners, Cowichan Tribes and Island Health, and this additional time will ensure that these extraordinary programs, and the overall building, are meticulously prepared for current and future generations,” a statement from the district said.

The new three-storey Quw’utsun Secondary School will be approximately 11,975 square metres and built for 1,100 students, with the ability to expand to house 1,500 students with the addition of new classrooms, when it opens.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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