Whitehorse Daily Star

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Andre Bourcier

$20-M francophone school’s timeline uncertain

Francophone students and parents counting on the completion of the Whitehorse French-language high school by the end of 2019

By Taylor Blewett on November 14, 2017

Francophone students and parents counting on the completion of the Whitehorse French-language high school by the end of 2019 – as slated by Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee last spring – now have less certainty as to when the school will be fully constructed.

An old fuel spill at the former F.H. Collins Secondary School site – where the francophone high school is set to be built – required more extensive soil remediation than anticipated over the summer, delaying any new build until its completion.

That remediation work is now finished, according to Jason Mackey, a spokesperson for the Department of Education. The next step is environmental testing to ensure the work was successful.

Upon getting that confirmation – tests should be completed in December – the department will update the school’s construction timeline.

The minister said as much in the legislature last week, in response to questions from Yukon Party house leader Scott Kent.

Kent referenced the previously established late 2019 deadline, and asked when the school will be occupied.

“This government is completely committed to the French first language high school and the concept of that process, but we are, at this point, needing to make sure that this is the appropriate land,” McPhee told the house.

“We have no reason to believe, at this point, that it hasn’t been properly remediated, but testing is required.

“There may well be some delays with respect to the land issue that I have indicated.”

Mackey did confirm that construction will not start in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which will end next March 31.

Andre Bourcier, the president of the Association franco-yukonnaise (AFY), said his organization would like the build to happen “much faster.

“We thought that everything was in line to be able to build the school as quickly as possible, and we’re waiting to hear from the department to know exactly where they are on this and what timeline is there.”

Bourcier stressed the importance of the new school to the Yukon’s francophone community.

“It’s really a way of making sure that we can develop.”

He explained that retention is a challenge in the Académie Parhélie French First Language program for students in Grades 7 to 12 at École Émilie-Tremblay.

“At this point, we have to offer equivalent services in French as what is offered in English.

So this is what we’re waiting for.

“The need for a high school was made a long time ago, we thought that the government was very clear on this idea.”

Marc Champagne, the executive director of the francophone school board, empathized the desire to see the school go up as quickly as possible. However, he noted, delays are part and parcel of a project this size.

“It’s a big project,” he explained. “These take time. But we’re making progress.”

He also emphasized that the school is not being built for the 58 students who are already enrolled in Académie Parhélie.

Rather, it’s intended to service the nearly 180 students registered in the French First Language elementary school program at École Émilie-Tremblay “that are going to be eligible for that high school in just a few years.”

École Émilie-Tremblay is the fastest-growing school in the Yukon “by far,” according to Champagne.

Neither McPhee nor the Department of Education would confirm the projected occupancy of the Francophone high school

Its design is still being finalized with the school board and the architects working on the project, Mackey said.

However, Champagne said the building’s estimated capacity has always been 200 students.

The capital budget for the project stands at $20 million, Mackey confirmed, but this figure is still under negotiation with the francophone board.

Once the conceptual design is finalized, the project will go to tender for a design-build contract.

Comments (23)

Up 0 Down 0

Inclusive Yukoner on Nov 20, 2017 at 8:54 pm

I am really tired of all the bashers and haters coming into every article about this french school and the french community in general!!! These people have every right to be here and are a major part of our community! They are going nowhere, they belong here just as much as you or I and we are BLESSED to have them integrated in our society! The Yukon's societal fabric has always included French people and we are a better city for having them!
And to my french buddies out there, I am so lucky to have met you!! Thank you for all the good memories and everything you have brought to OUR shared community!! So sorry that you have to deal with the ignorance and pettiness of a very vocal minority. These uneducated sods couldn't get a clue if it was handed to them in a gold pan!

Up 5 Down 2

greg on Nov 20, 2017 at 3:45 pm

2017 per capita federal handouts.

NUN $42,055, NWT $28,867, YUK $25,884, PE $3,981, NB $3,709, NS $3,243, MB $2,749, QC $2,710

Up 13 Down 0

Lost in the Yukon on Nov 17, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Dearest Sarah ... I may well be wrong in this but I was under the impression that in fact the Courts at the lower level had ruled in favor of the Government but rather than fight it out through appeals the Yukon Government (Doug Graham) decided to negotiate a deal in order to avoid further animosity, legal fees and the fear of alienating a large voting block prior to an election. I don't believe there was any ruling saying YG must construct a school and where it should be. If I am wrong on this my mistake and I apologize.

Up 14 Down 2

June Jackson on Nov 17, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Arturs: my election predictions were bang on.. Paslowski went down and the LIberal party was elected.. but...after that.. you are right...my predictions did go into the sewer .. I predicted all kinds of great things would flow from a Liberal government.. I didn't predict that Trudeau would drive us into the ground with debt.. http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/government-debt-in-canada-set-to-top-1-3-trillion-in-2016-fraser-institute http://www.debtclock.ca/

I didn't predict that taxpayers would get a 30% tax hike every year, (15% Fed. 15% territorial..I didn't predict that almost every deduction would be eliminated, or that 90% of the newcomers to Canada would be on SA 15 months later.. http://newobserveronline.com/canada-90-of-syrian-refugees-on-welfare/
I didn't predict that Canadian's would be..http://www.news1130.com/2017/04/24/drowning-debt-new-normal-canada/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/05/09/consumer-debt-canada-mnp-sentiment-survey_n_16510320.html

So, yeah.. I was really wrong.. but, Canada is in a LOT of trouble financially..85% of Canadians expressed concern about this deficit.. at this moment it will take 54 years to pay it down. https://globalnews.ca/news/3823636/commentary-this-is-a-really-stupid-time-for-canada-to-be-running-deficits-yet-here-we-are/

If Sandy Silver is not going to put in a sales tax..he'll find another way to get that money, Trudeau is cutting deductions for diabetic supplies, anyone think he is going to let the Yukon get away without a sales tax? Or a mean's test, or a health care premium? Someone is going to have to pay this bill.. Oh.. and I don't quite understand what your last sentence is intended to convey..can you kindly elaborate? I had great expectations for the Trudeau government. It completely escaped me that he is a substitute part time drama teacher, who never held a job in his life, that he admired China more than any other country because they really know how to get things done. That he said terrorists only need some love, (and 10.5 million dollars), cried when Castro died, and the infamous the budget will balance itself..

There are a lot of posters that don't like me..who have made their posts personal.. I sit next to a person that practically foams at the mouth..despises me that much.. when I leave this job it will be my pleasure to say.. I'm June Jackson, and I cared every single day about my community and about my country.. every poster here is the same.. they bother to post because they care. And I hope Arturs, that that is why you post too.

Up 5 Down 2

doug on Nov 17, 2017 at 3:29 pm

@ sarah. actually you're wrong about the location decision. The Yukon government gave the options of where they could build ( all were in Riverdale) and they also had last say on where it would be built( beside FH.) Check your facts.

Up 14 Down 1

Yukoner on Nov 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

From the YG press release today re. federal funding.
"These community spaces will provide French-speaking families, and the greater Yukon community, with places to come together and participate in performances, activities and programming that celebrate the French language and Franco-Yukonnais culture." Melanie Joly
So now you know how this is going to go. This space will be for ALL Yukoners to enjoy, as long as you speak French.....

Up 29 Down 4

Sarah on Nov 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Misconceptions around why it's going to Riverdale. Supreme Court decided they get a school. Supreme Court decided they GET TO CHOOSE WHERE TO BUILD THEIR SCHOOL. They chose the Skate Park. Didn't work out. They chose by FH. FHC was engineered so the French School could annex off of it. Not good enough for the Francophones. Need their own building. THEY chose where to be.

Up 12 Down 21

yukon56 on Nov 16, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Sad to see there are still a few anti everything people in this city. Francophones in this country contribute over 25% of the income tax revenue. How about the 2 billion plus transfer payments to Quebec????

Up 10 Down 27

Arturs on Nov 15, 2017 at 10:19 pm

June you were so horribly wrong with your last election predictions that in a way I'm overjoyed with your current predictions taking advantage of an obvious sore spot with the electorate. Keep up the good work we can use an increase to a 7000 vote advantage. Lowest unemployment rate ever, 4% GDP, 11 consecutive months of full time job increases, more. Oh, I think you missed the part where the pollution pricing comes back to the province or territory 100%, conveniently. The likelihood of the NDP governing anything is a negative value. They don't want the responsibility of leading they just like complaining, incessantly. Keep practicing your political pendency you might just get lucky, stranger things have happened but I don't see it. Please don't come back with the elitist or arrogant Liberal tag because that is stale and false.

Up 41 Down 15

jc on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Almost every school in Whitehorse now has French immersion. What more do these Quebecors want? For goodness sake, save some of the Yukon to the English who developed it since the gold rush days and before.

Up 13 Down 49

joe on Nov 15, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Sad to see there are still a few anti everything people in this city. Francophones in this country contribute over 25% of the income tax revenue and, since Yukon gets over a billion dollar handout each year, one can see Yukon receives over 250 million a year of tax dollars from Canadian francophones. Pretty easy math french or english. Hold your hand out eh!

Up 42 Down 4

north_of_60 on Nov 15, 2017 at 5:58 pm

@BnR's suggestion makes the most sense. We don't need another high school for French-only students. Build an addition on ET for those few who insist on French-only HS and the rest can go to the other two schools and learn how to integrate into our multilingual Canadian society. We've all had enough of these French-only elitists. Arrêtez la folie!

Up 34 Down 5

Lost in the Yukon on Nov 15, 2017 at 4:54 pm

If our finances are in such bad shape this project needs to fall under the "nice to have" but not needed category.

It should be shelved until it can be afforded. As it stands it just puts us further in debt and could result in the elimination of services as suggested by Sandy's elite blue ribbon panel.

Up 16 Down 5

Riverdale Resident on Nov 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Ok Joe, apparently you're speaking for 2 Riverdale residents. Point taken.
Regardless, access is only an issue during the school year, so what do you propose? Build another bridge in addition to a new school?
Better would be to not build another school and phase out what we do have as time goes on. Re-building FHC there was a huge mistake.
What really slows down the traffic flow in the morning is all the vehicles coming into Riverdale, dropping off kids and re-entering the traffic flow. Residents leaving Riverdale have minimal impact as evidenced by the near complete lack of traffic issues during the summer.

Up 62 Down 5

Conflict of Interest? on Nov 15, 2017 at 12:01 pm

If Andre Bourcier is so concerned about the French community and overpriced learning facilities, why doesn't he work for L'AFY (instead of just being the President) instead of at the Native Language Center? Seems a bit contradictory and a conflict of interest.

I think we need a Native Language School dedicated to just that instead of another French school for a few of the Yukon's "elite".

Personally, if I was one of those French kids, I would want to go to school with the rest of the kids in my city so I could meet new people and not just be with the same group of kids my WHOLE LIFE. Has anyone actually asked one of these students if they would prefer to be isolated? It seems like a selfish adult move.

Up 59 Down 3

June Jackson on Nov 15, 2017 at 10:04 am

The Liberals are not going to get elected again Federally or Territorially.. it's only two years and taxpayers have already had enough, add the coming sales tax, and carbon tax, and health care premiums and means testing of all Yukoners..

Personally, I don't think there are enough french students to warrant this kind of expenditure...and when it went to court the judge was biased and brought down a biased decision, (for which he got his robes slapped). Riverdale residents did not want any more congestion.. but..its always the squeaky wheel that gets greased.

Up 56 Down 7

BnR on Nov 15, 2017 at 6:43 am


Seriously, why not add on to Emily Tremblay?
Riverdale needs another school like it needs another traffic circle. In fact, we should be removing schools from Riverdale. Grey Mountain and Selkirk are both nearing (if not already there) there best by date. Get them out of there and open that land for residential.

Up 69 Down 4

Pingo on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:47 pm

How much money does Bilingualism cost this country? Well, it's a whopping 2.5 BILLION Dollars. What other country would do this, it's beyond silly. Not to mention Riverdale is a complete mess getting into and out. If the school is "french First" why be surrounded by english only? What a waste of tax dollars period...I say we vote!

Up 53 Down 3

Maybeafter on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Another school in Riverdale? NO! Maybe after you re-evaluate and fix the roads going in and out of Riverdale 1st. Take the meridians that only seem to block people's view of pedestrians, wildlife (like last night, big deer in the meridian) and prevents others from continuing onwards, Out! Make a turning lane instead? Or another bridge in and out? At least add a turning lane if you aren't building another bridge.
That traffic circle has sure made an improvement, so much let's build another school! Even in Sim City you can't get away with this! You would need to spend thousands to upgrade the roads! Something the government should look into?

Up 20 Down 11

Joe on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:10 pm

@riverdale resident_ not sure who you're speaking for but certainly not for all residents of Riverdale. The issue should be access to and from Riverdale which is a City issue and yes, that does need to be addressed.

Up 48 Down 5

Josey Wales on Nov 14, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Awesome more elitist crap, more identity politics, even more polarized citizens, and why?
Because the victors were too polite soooooo long ago.
We settled this on the plains, political windbags of the day wished to not offend the defeated French.
Just like today...with the same crews AND the seventh century sycophants.
The mess of the future will not be under a maple leaf, we’d be very fortunate to see a bicentennial celebration the rate we are...decomposing.
So sick of this topic, too bad our political types of yesteryear and today were /are missing nads

Up 56 Down 9

comen sence on Nov 14, 2017 at 4:36 pm

20 M of our hard earned money again go to taxes to build a school they already have. The # of high school student graduates coming out of ET you can count on two hands. Let's get the first nations fixed up with their own High school. Please stop spending like there is no tomorrow.

Up 108 Down 7

Riverdale Resident on Nov 14, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Ok Libs. This WAS an election issue whether you knew it or not. The YP candidates didn't get elected, in part, because of the YP intentions to build this school in Riverdale.
We. Don't. Want. It. Here.
The traffic is bad enough with the schools we have without another.
You build it here, prepare to get punted next election.

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