BANFF – Elementary students in Banff are now learning in style.
The newly built and modernized Banff Elementary School had its grand opening Monday (Sept. 16) to cheers from students after phase two of the project nears completion, including a new full size gymnasium to also be used by the Town of Banff.
“It is a very special day,” said Canadian Rockies School Board superintendent Chris MacPhee to a crowd of community members, staff and students gathered in the new school gym.
“I may be remiss without making a comment that I have not worked in a community like this in my entire career, where it’s not just about the beauty – it’s the community, it’s the businesses.”
The grand opening of the school and the symbolic cutting of the ribbon marks the wrap up of a roughly four-year project that included two phases, and the construction of the full-sized gymnasium available to the Town of Banff for exclusive use after 6 p.m. weekdays and throughout weekends. CRPS treasurer, Mike Guindon, said while numbers haven’t been finalized, the budget for this phase of the project is currently at $15.3 million.
“The actual cost of Phase II hasn’t been finalized yet, as the demolition and reclamation of the grounds are still in progress,” Guindon wrote in an email.
“We expect that we will be pretty close to the budget allocated to Phase II.”
Guindon said phase II will see the completed demolition and remediation of the grounds by winter.
The project was initially approved by Banff's Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) in December of 2015. The Town of Banff issued a building permit for phase two in November 2017 following the successful completion of phase one, which included building 13 new classrooms, office space and a mechanical room. It also included the installation of 204 solar panels on its roof, large windows to allow more natural light and a new layout to optimize the flow of traffic within the building.
The second phase included an additional 13 classrooms, a library and a full-size gymnasium. The school now has the capacity for 550 students. The Town of Banff has contributed a total of $1.75 million to the overall budget for phase two of the project, including $961,909 for the gymnasium. Banff Elementary School principal, Debbie McKibbon said in an email the Town of Banff also have two classrooms.
Mayor Karen Sorensen was in attendance as well as Alberta’s Education Minister, Adriana LaGrange, who, alongside CRPS board chair Carol Picard, helped cut the ribbon.
“I’m always excited to go to an opening of a school, it’s just great to see a new centre of excellence and learning,” LaGrange said.
“I’m excited for everyone who’s put so much effort into getting this school up and running.”
MLA Miranda Rosin, also in attendance at the grand opening, said she feels the students in Banff are particularly lucky to live and learn in a place people strive to visit.
“We are so blessed not only to live in Banff, but to have facilities like this that best serve our kids … Not only do they get to live in the incredible mountains and grow here, but they get to learn in this incredible new facility,” she said.
For more information on the Canadian Rockies School Board or Banff Elementary School, visit www.crps.ca.