The new Cowichan Secondary school will feature a modern structure that incorporates Cowichan culture, heritage and design now that the Board of Education of the Cowichan Valley School district has selected the long-awaited project’s builder.
Vancouver-based Urban One Builders was picked during the design-build process and they’ll begin building the state-of-the-art facility.
The 11,975 square-metre school, will feature a lot of wood and natural light, as well as room for 1,100 students initially — with the potential to accommodate up to 1,500. It will become not just the heart of the Cowichan Valley school system but a new feature of the greater Duncan skyline.
“We are thrilled to welcome Urban One Builders to the Cowichan Valley. Their innovative and carefully crafted design for Cowichan Secondary School will be an architectural centerpiece of our district, and will serve our learners in exceptional ways for decades to come,” said Board Chair Candace Spilsbury.
The building, which will include purpose-built learning communities with collaboration spaces and incorporate spaces for technology and innovation throughout, has been designed in consultation with Cowichan Tribes.
“Cowichan Tribes was thrilled to be a part of the planning and design of the new Cowichan Secondary school, which will be built on our unceded territory,” said Suniimtunaat (Stephanie Atleo), acting director of Education, Quw’utsun Syuw’entst Lelum. “The ability to incorporate Cowichan culture and heritage provides our Indigenous students a safe space that they can connect and relate to. When our students enter the building, they see themselves and their culture and know this is a place that values them and their community. We are excited to continue to be a partner on this project and we are so happy for all our Cowichan Valley students who will attend this beautiful, culturally rich new school.”
The original Cow High was built in 1950 and updated in 1998. It’s been on the list for seismic mitigation since 2004 but the long-term goal has been to replace it.
The Cowichan Valley School District bought the 5.3 hectare Cowichan Place property in 2012. The provincial government committed to spending $83.8 million for the school’s replacement as part of the province’s Seismic Mitigation Program, while the Cowichan Valley School District is providing $2.2 million.
According to the school district, the new seismically safe Cowichan Secondary School will feature three storeys “with several architectural features that will complement the surroundings and will honour the unceded Quw’utsun lands where it is situated. The grounds will offer beautiful outdoor learning spaces that pay homage to the past, while providing spaces that allow students to focus on creating their future.”
The board announced in May 2020 that an Indigenous Language and Culture Centre would be the cornerstone of the Neighbourhood Learning Centre that will also house health and wellness facilities, and a high-tech boardroom/meeting room.
“Students deserve to learn in safe, positive and inspiring learning environments that give them the best opportunities to succeed, and that’s exactly what this new school will provide to the Cowichan Valley,” said Jennifer Whiteside, minister of Education. “Every step forward this project takes is an opportunity to look ahead to the future facility and what it will mean to students, staff and families for generations to come.”