Official Groundbreaking at Cowichan Secondary School


Yesterday, the Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, MLA, Minister of Education, joined Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District, and Cowichan Tribes Councillor Suniimtunaat (Stephanie Atleo) to officially break the ground at the site of the new Cowichan Secondary School.

This celebratory event is the official start to the construction of the new Cowichan Secondary School. On September 28th, The Board, members of Cowichan Tribes, and invited guests held a ceremony to bless the land and prepare it for the upcoming construction. Following that, on November 2nd, the Board of Education announced that Urban One Builders and HCMA Architecture + Design were the successful proponents selected in the Design – Build process.

”Children and families in the Cowichan Valley deserve a modern hub of education and community. This new school will provide a safe learning environment that is connected to the land and community,” said Whiteside. “With construction set to begin, I’m very excited for students and families to see their future school becoming a reality.”

The new seismically safe Cowichan Secondary School will be a three-story building with several architectural features that will complement the surroundings and will honour the 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.

“This day has been a long time in the making,” said Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District. “To see this physical start of construction on our new school is a thrilling moment. As a board, we are so grateful to Minister Whiteside and Councillor Atleo for joining us to kick off the construction of our new school. I also want to recognize Urban One Builders and HCMA Architecture + Design for creating such an inspiring design, we cannot wait to see it come to life.”

In May 2020 the Board announced 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 meeting room.

The new building will be approximately 11,975 square metres and built for 1100 students, with the ability to expand to house 1500 students with the addition of new classrooms. It will include purpose-built learning communities with collaboration spaces and incorporate spaces for technology and innovation throughout.

The Government of B.C. is providing $83.8 million for the replacement of Cowichan Secondary School as part of the Province’s Seismic Mitigation Program, while the Cowichan Valley School District is providing $2.2 million.

Architectural Features of the new School

  • Incorporation of Cowichan culture, heritage, and design throughout to tie the school to the rich history of the Hwulmuhw Mustimuh (first peoples)
  • Break out collaborative spaces to foster innovation and creativity
  • Outdoor gathering spaces so learning can take place in a variety of places
  • Incredible natural lighting and views to inspire and energize students and staff alike
  • Use of wood to create strong, warm, and welcoming spaces for all

Quick Facts about the Project:

  • Cowichan Secondary School was built in 1950, and had several additions until 1998.
  • The school has been identified in the Seismic Mitigation Program since 2004.
  • The Cowichan Valley School District purchased the Cowichan Place property, a 5.3-hectare site, in 2012.
  • Students will remain in their existing facility until the new school is complete.