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Flood damage closes Argyle school gyms

Gravel washed from a field area blocked an exterior drain at the secondary school, resulting in a flood

Student athletes at North Vancouver’s Ecole Argyle Secondary are getting an unwelcome start to the new year after flooding following last week’s snow and rain storms caused significant damage to the high school's gymnasiums.

Principal Kim Jonat sent a note to parents on Dec. 30, warning “the Argyle gyms and equipment rooms have been significantly impacted by flooding that happened this week.”

Flooding was caused by runoff from the upper field area, washing gravel over a retaining wall and blocking exterior drains outside the school, said Jonat in the letter, adding that water then flooded into the gym through the west exit doors.

Much of the Lower Mainland had been on a flood watch advisory over the Christmas period after snowstorms and ice that hit the North Shore Dec. 20-23 were followed by a rapid increase in temperature and significant rainfall on Dec. 24-25.

Jonat’s letter didn’t specify when the flooding occurred or when it was discovered, but said school district facilities and maintenance staff, insurance adjusters and a restoration company have all been up at the school, assessing the damage.

“Unfortunately the damage to the floor is extensive and requires an immediate closure of both the small and large gyms,” Jonat wrote.

“I am deeply saddened to receive this news yesterday as I know how important the gym facilities are to the Argyle community,” Jonat added.

Administrators are now busy trying to find space in other nearby gyms for physical education classes and extracurricular athletics programs.

Some of those have been rescheduled for this week at elementary schools and rentals at other high school gyms, according to parents.

But longer term plans are still unknown.

Parent advisory council chair Leslie Jaremchuk said Jonat has been working around the clock to try to make alternate arrangements since the flood was discovered.

She added her understanding is that it is likely at least some of the gym floor will need to be replaced.

The Argyle gym is only two years old, and was one of the centrepieces of the new school, which opened in January 2021.

The large gym can be partitioned into two or three separate spaces, or opened up completely to accommodate larger events and competitions.

The gym flooding has come at a time when parents and athletes at Argyle are still waiting for construction of a long-promised artificial turf field to get underway. Legal agreements between the school district and the District of North Vancouver – which is paying for the field – delayed construction of the field, which is expected to get underway between January and March 2023.

Altogether, the rebuild of Argyle has meant five years without a school field.

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