Sooke School District signs agreements for new land for schools

The money offered for the different parcels of land ranges from $300,000 to $2 million an acre, says school district superintendent.

The Sooke School District is looking to accelerate the process for purchasing land to accommodate the increase in students projected for the West Shore.

District superintendent Jim Cambridge confirmed last week there are a number of signed agreements in place for between four and six parcels of land.

The money offered for the different parcels of land ranges from $300,000 to $2 million an acre, depending on the location and how ready the land is for building, he said.

“That could change in the next little while,” Cambridge said, referring to the possibility of more deals moving forward.

All of the proposed purchases are subject to approval by the Ministry of Education’s capital branch, he noted. A request for proposals put out in October by Colliers International, on behalf of the district, has a closing date of March 15.

“A second round of proposals should be going to the ministry once we identify other land options,” Cambridge added.

Parcels of land in Colwood, North and South Langford, Westhills and the Latoria Road area are in the mix as possible sites for new schools.

“Our top priority is a new middle school for the West Shore in Colwood or Langford,” Cambridge said. Three new elementary schools are required as well.

Although growth on the West Shore has made this a challenging process, he said it is a good problem to have.

The district has just over 10,000 students, an increase of 500 from the year before, and projections over the next 10 years foresee the total increasing by 2.5 to 3.5 per cent a year.

“We want to have the seats available when the time comes,” Cambridge said. “That’s why we’re aggressively going after the land now.”

New schools would have to be close to where an existing school is overcrowded, Cambridge said.