Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Cowichan’s infrastructure gets a boost with new buildings

Robert’s column

The full auditorium at Cowichan Secondary School broke into applause and cheers on Dec. 18 when B.C.’s Education Minister Rob Fleming announced that the province is finally moving forward with a new high school for the Valley.

It was the culmination of more than a decade of tireless efforts by school, municipal and provincial officials, as well as many others, to replace the aging and seismically unsafe CSS, and Fleming’s announcement that Victoria is kicking in $80 million for the new facility was one of the worst kept secrets in the Valley that morning.

Mike Russell, the Cowichan Valley school district’s communications director, did his best to keep mum on the reason for the press conference and large gathering that was being planned at CCS.

But the fact that the minister himself was coming to make the announcement, and almost every local leader from the Valley was attending, left little doubt to us in the newsroom as to what was going on.

The new school, which will be constructed on the Cowichan Place property next to Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan campus, should be open for classes by September, 2023.

It’s just one of a number of construction projects that the Valley can expect to see come to fruition in the coming years as the area grows and modernizes.

Premier John Horgan showed up at the Cowichan District Hospital in the summer of 2018 to announce the Valley will have a brand new hospital by 2024.

That announcement was also very well received by those who attended the press conference because the construction of a new hospital for the Valley to replace the aging CDH has been considered to be Island Health’s No. 1 capital priority for years.

The new state-of-the-art hospital, which is expected to be much larger than the CDH with more beds and health services to meet the region’s growing population and needs, will be built on Bell McKinnon Road.

Since the current CDH was opened in 1967, the Valley’s population has more than doubled, and is expected to grow by another 20 per cent during the next few decades.

The final cost of the new hospital has yet to be determined, but it was estimated that it would cost approximately $350 million when the idea was first raised a number of years ago.

Plans are also progressing that will see a new approximately $40-million facility for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment to call home built on a five-acre property owned by the Municipality of North Cowichan bordering Ford Road and Drinkwater Road.

The detachment building was originally scheduled to be replaced in 2012, at a cost at the time of approximately $23 million, but the project has faced multiple delays.

The new facility will replace the detachment’s current facility on Canada Avenue, which is too old and small to meet current demands, and will bring together the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment, Forensic Identification Services, South Island Traffic Services, and First Nations Policing under one roof for the first time.

Mix in those projects with the large housing developments that are planned for the Valley in the coming years, and I expect the area’s builders and contractors will be kept busy for some time.

These are exciting times for the Cowichan Valley.

I wonder what it will look like in another 20 years?



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Cowichan councillor Christopher Justice wants to see rare habitats protected in the municipality. (File photo)
North Cowichan wants rare ecosystems to be a priority in OCP

But some council members want public input into decision

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary is taking a pro-active approach and closing the thrift shop as a precautionary measure as of Saturday. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop closing again as a precautionary measure

Second closure this year will last at least six weeks due to the COVID situation

The Santa’s Workshop fundraiser being put on by Camosun students on Dec. 5, 2020, will benefit Providence Farm. (Submitted)
Camosun students harness spirit holiday season with Providence Farm fundraiser

The next event, coming up on Dec. 5, is a virtual “Day in Santa’s Workshop”

Colwood resident, Geoffrey Irwin, has been missing since Sep. 27. His vehicle was found in Vancouver on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Police search for former Caps player last seen in September

Geoff Irwin’s vehicle was found in Vancouver Nov. 25

Cowichan Tribes’ artist Darrell Thorne (left) and Phil Kent, chairman of the Island Corridor Foundation, hold Thorne’s first-place winning design in the ICF’s First Nations artist competition. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes’ Darrell Thorne wins ICF art competition

Artists designed perspectives on passenger trains of the future

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Most Read