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Busby gymnasium construction should only take seven months

Director of facilities Tracy Tyreman delivers report on capital projects at final Pembina Hills board meeting on Oct. 13
New Pembina HIlls Sign
At their final meeting on Oct. 13, the Pembina Hills trustees received a report on various capital projects completed over the past year and a half using stimulus funding and the Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) grant.

The construction of a new $2.25 million gymnasium at Busby School should only take about seven months, which is about three months sooner than expected. 

That’s according to Pembina Hills director of facilities Tracy Tyreman, who mentioned that the ground had been broken on the Busby project while delivering the Facilities Information Update to trustees on Oct. 13. 

“It’s actually going to take less time than what I anticipated,” said Tyreman, who noted this should save the division some money due to needing the contractors on site for less time. 

The reference to the Busby gymnasium was only a passing one in the Facilities Update, in which Tyreman detailed the projects that had been completed over the past year and a half using provincial stimulus funding and the division’s annual Infrastructure & Maintenance Renewal (IMR) Grant. 

Tyreman noted that in April 2020, the province had asked for a list of higher priority projects from school divisions with the intent of getting some contractors and construction companies working again amidst the pandemic. 

He said he had applied for roughly $4.9 million and ultimately received $2.5 million in Capital Maintenance & Renewal (CMR) stimulus funding, which he noted was still fantastic. 

“We actually were able to jump ahead and have a head start on some of these bigger items that otherwise would have taken me years (to complete),” he said. 

One of these projects was an $800,000 roof replacement at Westlock Elementary School, along with a less costly roof replacement at Fort Assiniboine School and partial roof work at R.F. Staples School (Westlock) and Swan Hills School. 

Some other big-ticket items he was immediately able to pursue were the replacement of boilers at Westlock Elementary and R.F. Staples, as well as upgrades to a corridor in an old wing of R.F. Staples originally built in the 1960s. 

By the time all the tenders went through, there was still some CMR money left, so Tyreman said he applied for an extension from the province. 

He was then able to use the remaining funds on refinishing the east gym floor and replacing the fire alarm system at Barrhead Composite High School (BCHS), putting in new air conditioning units for modular classrooms at Neerlandia Public Christian School and Pembina North Community School, installing a new camera system at Dunstable School and completing hazardous material assessment reports for all schools in the division. 

The CMR money was also used to put in a new commercial kitchen at Busby School, which the building had lacked before. (On a side note, Tyreman mentioned that a commercial kitchen must have a triple sink and a dishwasher capable of reaching a certain temperature.) 

He noted they can utilize the new kitchen to serve a hot lunch program or simply allow the community to use it for certain events. 

Tyreman then detailed how the division utilized $1.2 million in IMR funding over the course of 2020-2021 to install motion detectors and renovate the food labs at BCHS, put in a new public announcement system worth $35,000 to $50,000 at Fort Assiniboine, conduct fire panel repairs and fix the sidewalks at Pembina North, put in a new hot water tank at Westlock Elementary and replace a sewer line at R.F. Staples, which cost $75,000 alone. 

When asked about the food labs upgrade at BCHS, Tyreman noted that the division had shifted its plans for a new building to replace the high school and was instead focused on modernization. The food labs renovation would be considered part of that, he indicated. 

One interesting use of IMR was to repaint the gymnasium and renovate the stage at Westlock Elementary, which Tyreman noted is going to be converted into an exercise room and feature a climbing wall. 

Tyreman also briefly touched on some projects paid for out of school reserves, such as replacing the score clock and bleachers at BCHS, putting in a new sound system at R.F. Staples and building a new running track at Pembina North. 

The trustees thanked Tyreman for all the work he and the other staff in the facilities department do in maintaining the division’s schools. 

”Our facilities look really good, and that’s due to you and your team,” said board chair Jennifer Tuininga. 

Tyreman also thanked the trustees for their support, noting that most of them would be retired following the Oct. 18 election.

Kevin Berger,

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