Nature Program Coming to Mill Bay Elementary


The following news release was issued on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at the Board Education and Business Committee meeting.

Re-opened Mill Bay Elementary to be home to new nature program

Elementary students from across the school district will have an opportunity to enroll in a nature-based program being offered at Mill Bay Elementary this September, as the school district received Ministry of Education approval to access $1.4 million to re-open the school to address enrolment pressures in the district.

“The Board of Education is very pleased that we have access to the funding to re-open Mill Bay Elementary so we can begin to address capacity challenges in the district,” said Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education. “After years of declining enrolment, the Cowichan Valley School District is experiencing continued enrolment growth, which is very exciting. However, this is creating pressures on our schools. Re-opening the school will help us address our immediate need for student space, as we continue to review how to best address our future needs.”

“This is good news for students and families in growing communities in the Cowichan Valley,” said Minister of Education Rob Fleming. “I am proud to be part of a government that is supporting our education system with record investments. It will be great to see Mill Bay Elementary open its doors to students once again.”

In September 2017, districts implemented new class size and composition requirements that impacted the capacity of schools in the district. Combined with continued population growth, many schools are at or nearing capacity—the south zone in particular is an area that will see immediate pressures starting this fall. With the implementation of the new B.C. curriculum, there is also an increased demand for educational programs that provide learners with unique, hands-on experiences.

“Re-opening Mill Bay Elementary and offering a unique program like a nature-based school will help us address capacity issues in the south end, but also in other areas of our district” said Rod Allen, Superintendent. “There is an increased demand for more hands-on learning opportunities, like our successful land-based learning program at Cowichan Secondary. This is a really exciting opportunity to address capacity challenges, while also offering a unique program of choice for our young learners.”

A nature-based program is an ideal choice for the Cowichan Valley, which has a strong agriculture industry and year-round access to beautiful natural environments that make the perfect classroom for students in the district.

While operational details are still being worked through, it is anticipated that the school will initially re-open with four divisions in the main building which can accommodate up to 80 students. When running at full capacity, the school will be able to accommodate 10 divisions with up to 200 students. The grades for the 2018/19 school year will be confirmed once a Principal is hired and registration is underway, but it is anticipated it will begin as a Kindergarten to Grade 3 school.

Work will be underway over the next few months to restore Mill Bay Elementary to an operational school. Work includes the installation of a new roof, interior upgrades and renovations, and the installation of a playground.

In the next couple of weeks, a new Principal will be hired to oversee the re-opening of the school and begin the design of a nature-based program. When ready, registration information for parents will be available on our website and our district Facebook page.

For more information on enrolment growth and projections, please review the recently published district demographics report: Report on District Demographics and Changing School Capacities.


View a PDF version of this news release.

Media Contact:

Katie McLaughlin
Communications Specialist
Cowichan Valley School District (SD #79)
Phone: 250-748-0321 ext. 308