Proposed school plan would replace Massey Theatre with new performing arts centre

The City of New Westminster just sent out the following news release about a new plan proposed for school construction in New Westminster. The proposal includes replacing Massey Theatre, keeping Mercer Stadium and adding a new sports field to the school that will be built on the former St. Mary's Hospital site.

The City of New Westminster & SD 40 just sent out the following news release about a new plan proposed for school construction in New Westminster. The proposal includes replacing Massey Theatre, keeping Mercer Stadium and adding a new sports field to the school that will be built on the former St. Mary’s Hospital site.

What do you think of it? We’ll pass on any questions to the City & School Board and let you know what they say.

New secondary school proposal features new performing arts centre

New Westminster, BC — School District #40 and the City of New Westminster have announced a proposed plan that will see a new regional community performing arts centre to replace the existing Massey Theatre included as part of the New Westminster Secondary School replacement project. The announcement came following a thorough discussion process between the School District and the City.

“It’s been a lengthy process and the issues have been complex,” said Mayor Wayne Wright. “The proposed plan will see all major components of the secondary school site maintained with a new high school and state-of-the-art regional community performing arts centre, in addition to new elementary and middle schools delivered for the citizens of New Westminster. We look forward to sharing this exciting concept with the community and getting feedback in the coming weeks.”

As part of the proposed plan, Mercer Stadium would be maintained at the secondary school site and a new field added at the St. Mary’s site.

The proposed plan has been presented to the BC Ministry of Education for initial review. The Ministry feels that the proposal has merit and has encouraged the School District and the City to continue their collaborative efforts to achieve a solution that balances the education needs of students and the broader needs of the community.

The School District and City are planning public information sessions in early September, followed by focused consultation and public workshops. The consultation will take place as part of public consultation regarding inclusion of community programs in schools under the Neighbourhoods of Learning (NOL) program introduced by the Ministry of Education in 2009. Under this program, the School District can receive additional funding to accommodate programs that serve the needs of students and the broader community in new schools.

After these consultations have been completed, the Board of Education and City Council will each consider the findings of the public consultation process and determine whether the proposed plan should move forward.

“We’ve been working hard with the community and the City for a long time, it’s great to see it pay off with this agreement,” said Board Chair James Janzen.”We have 3,000 kids waiting for new schools, and a community that’s been living with uncertainty.”

Once a plan for New Westminster Secondary School is finalized, the school district will be able to proceed with the construction of a new elementary on the St. Mary’s site, a new middle school on the John Robson site and a new high school on the existing NWSS site.

More information on the proposed plan and community consultation process will be forthcoming. Updates will be posted on the School District’s website at www.sd40.bc.ca and on the City website at www.newwestcity.ca.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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5 comments

  1. I think this is wonderful news! Of course the "devil is in the details" but I believe this is a win win solution to a complex problem with many conflicting requirements.

    There is a certain nostalgia to think that the Massey will be no more, but it will live on in our memories and the many photos and videos that have been shot in the past.

    I certainly look forward to the public consultation sessions!

    Heidi Mueller

  2. At first glance, it seems like a good plan, but there's been plans before. I'll believe it when I see it. According to this plan, the high school won't actually be completed until 2016 and a lot could happen between now and then.

  3. While I have not yet had a chance to speak to the Massey Theatre Society Board, today’s announcement by School District 40 concerning the future of our Massey Theatre seems to me to be the best news that could come from a long-standing bad situation.

    When the School District first announced its intentions to rebuild the high school, part of the original objective was to include upgrading the Massey Theatre. Since then, studies have determined that it would be cost prohibitive to upgrade the theatre to meet existing building codes. That, coupled with the extent of the historical on-site cemetery issues, did not bode well for the old theatre because to achieve a new school, the options were to lose either the theatre or the City-owned Mercer Stadium.

    The announcement that the Province will fund 650 seats of a proposed new state-of-the-art 1000 seat theatre as part of the new high school replacement project indicates that all levels of government recognize the important contribution that Arts & Culture bring to the students and community of New Westminster. There are details to be worked out and the consultation process will hopefully bring to light any kinks, but at first blush it seems that the Province, the School Board, and the City deserve our congratulations: there is no question that this investment in New Westminster will profit many generations to come!

  4. Personally, I am optimistic about the whole package. Its been quite a struggle to get to this point but finally we have a plan that is good for district students and staff, good for the Arts community and City Sports groups, … good for all New Westminster residents, and certainly due credit should be given to the Province for their commitment to New Westminster. Given the many complexities associated with the capital projects process, I don't think a better proposal is possible.

    Lisa Graham,

    New Westminster School Trustee

  5. The devil is in the details, which is why the package took time to negotiate and covers a range of issues, not least of which are the future of education for our children, and the long-term well-being of the arts in New Westminster. Happy to discuss this further with people.

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