Students at Pleasant Valley Secondary School (PVSS) in Armstrong can look forward to a brand-new gym with $15.85 million in funding approved by the Province.
“Physical education and team sports are an important part of youth development and learning,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “I know it’s been difficult for students at Pleasant Valley to not have access to a gym on school grounds, and I’m pleased that this will soon be fixed. Our government is committed to providing students across B.C. with safe, supportive and inclusive learning environments.”
The new gymnasium will be constructed according to LEED Gold standards and will include energy-efficient design elements. In addition, the gym is being built with non-combustible exterior materials to make the building more climate resilient and better able to withstand a wildfire. The new gym will also be available for use by the larger community as a gathering place for sports teams, First Nations groups and other organizations.
“The board is very pleased that the PVSS gym replacement is being prioritized by the Ministry of Education and Child Care,” said Tennile Lachmuch, vice-chair of the board of education, School District 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap). “The closure of the gym has been a loss for both students and the broader community, as school gyms play an important role in rural communities. The board is very grateful to the City of Armstrong and the Township of Spallumcheen for providing alternative indoor spaces for students during the closure. It will be a day of celebration to have students from Armstrong, Spallumcheen and Falkland return to an innovative and modern gym. We appreciate the ministry’s support of this renewed physical literacy learning space.”
The Government of B.C. is investing as much as $15.2 million to replace the PVSS gym. School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) is contributing an additional $615,000. The gym was deemed unsafe and closed in 2021 after previously unknown damage to the structure was discovered. Students are currently being bused to nearby city-owned facilities for physical education classes and to other nearby school gyms for team sports. The old gym will be demolished this summer and construction will begin in winter 2023. The new gym is expected to be ready for students in winter 2024.
SD83 Director of Operations Travis Elwood reports the architectural services and the demolition/hazmat are both out to tender. He adds the tender closes on July 14 and he hopes demolition will begin shortly after the awarding of the project.
As many are aware a planned renovation in 2020-21 to the Pleasant Valley Secondary School (PVSS) gym uncovered unexpected and significant structural damage. Since the discovery, SD83 has been working hard to get the necessary approvals and funding in place to replace the gym, explained School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) Secretary Treasurer Dale Culler. Temporary shoring was installed to properly support the roof structure and ensure the rest of the building was safe, however the gym could not be used.
PVSS’ gym was the top request in SD83’s major capital project submission and in the 2022-23 Capital Plan it was approved, but how the project would proceed (renovation or rebuild) had not yet been decided. The Ministry’s recent decision was to go with a rebuild.
Community has stepped up
Until the gym can be rebuilt, the School District is providing PVSS with a bus to transport students each day to community facilities so that PVSS can continue to have an athletics program. SD83 is very grateful to Armstrong/Spallumcheen Parks and Recreation as well as to neighbouring schools for making it possible for PVSS to hold physical education classes and programs in their facilities.
Structural damage which occurred decades ago, was discovered during the early stages of a retrofit of Pleasant Valley Secondary School gym. The project (which was supposed to include a new floor, new bleachers, a new gym curtain, and a general facelift to the space) was halted when the contractor raised concern about evidence of fire and structural damage which wasn’t properly fixed in the ceiling of the gym. Using the engineers and architects involved in the renovation project, structural assessments of the gym were conducted in order to determine the severity of the damage. Both structural reports deemed the gymnasium unsafe for use until major repairs are completed.
The fire in question took place in 1976, at that time the roof trusses, wiring, and insulation were damaged by the heat of the fire. Repairs at the time dealt with the observable damage while the unseen effects caused by the heat from the fire on the steel structure was not addressed. Over time the weight on the roof from snow and water caused the structure to bend and become structurally unsafe.
The PVSS gym project is part of $3.1 billion for school capital projects over the next three years, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and land purchases for future schools.