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District of North Van approves development of Handsworth Secondary rebuild

The school will be a little smaller and the move-in date might be a bit later, but a new Handsworth Secondary is officially on the way.
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The school will be a little smaller and the move-in date might be a bit later, but a new Handsworth Secondary is officially on the way.

Following a six-week delay, District of North Vancouver council unanimously approved a development permit for the $62-million school rebuild at a May 27 council meeting.

“I’m very glad that we took a little bit of extra time to look at this and keep hope alive and make sure that we can put this incredibly important piece of infrastructure in at this site,” Mayor Mike Little told the crowd of parents, neighbours and school trustees at the meeting.

Escalating construction costs can boost the project’s price tag by approximately $575,000 per month, according to the North Vancouver School District. Additional cost overruns could mean scaling back the project, advised North Vancouver school trustee Christie Sacre, who urged council to issue the development permit.

Council deferred in April with Coun. Lisa Muri calling for neighbourhood consultation on traffic and parking.

Several neighbours called for parking restrictions on nearby streets and cul-de-sacs while others voiced concerns the school won’t have enough on-site parking.

In response to those misgivings, there will be No Parking/No Stopping signs in the cul-de-sacs at Handsworth and Edgewood roads and a new traffic signal at Capilano and Edgewood Road. Crews are also set to remove the raised crosswalk at Handsworth Road and Timberline Place to “avoid potential conflicts,” according to a staff report.

The pickup/drop-off spot at Edgewood Road will be maintained “to reduce pressure on Handsworth Road.”

“Overall, the new school is not expected to generate additional traffic or parking demands,” according to a district staff report.

The new Handsworth will be 139,931 square feet – a reduction of 13,239 square feet from its current footprint. While Handsworth’s current enrolment is 1,471, the new school has a capacity for 1,400. The new school is slated to get one extra parking space for a total of 120 spots.

The school is tentatively slated to open to students in September 2021. However, the school district has indicated the move-in could be pushed to the December 2021 holiday break.

Once the school is built, the 57-year-old building is set to be demolished and replaced with a grass field in 2022.

Due to steep slopes and environmental constraints, the school will not host an eight-lane track. While a six-lane track is feasible, the district is set to investigate the “cost and space implications” of a four-lane track around the school’s 64- by 104-metre grass field.

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