Kevin Garinger, Horizon’s director of education, said the division has “got to be prepared” for the possibility of future population growth due to BHP’s Jansen Project potash mine announcement.
BHP’s board of directors announced in August that they will be investing $7.5 billion (US$5.7 billion) to complete the first stage of the Jansen Project mine near LeRoy. Construction is expected to take around six years, with the first ore targeted to come from the ground in 2027.
The school division board began preliminary discussions for what this could mean during their August council meeting.
“There are lots of communities that’s going to impact, you look at Viscount, you look at Lanigan, you look at Watrous, you look at Drake, you look at smaller areas like that in the general vicinity – LeRoy and Watson,” Garinger said.
“It’s further away than just the construction piece, but the construction pieces do bring people too and people may move here permanently.”
Garinger said the division’s current plan is to purchase and install portable classrooms, as required.
Portable classrooms are self-contained classrooms with their own heating system, connected to the main school’s electrical network.
Humboldt Public School is one of the facilities in the division nearing its capacity at 330 students, while Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) is in the process of receiving a portable classroom to assist with their own capacity limit.
Construction of the HCI portable classroom is expected to begin within the year.
“Short-term we’re going to be okay, if things really explode and Humboldt has a very significant population increase based on the announcement down the road, we, again, have the ability to do other things in both buildings related to portables. So I think we’re in a good place.”
As the population grows, Garinger expects it will also place the division in a better situation to receive capital project funding from the Ministry of Education.
“The ministry isn’t going to give us anything because something might happen. We always have to have data saying, ‘We need this to happen,’ he said. So I’m glad we have infrastructure that can support growth, and if it goes really crazy we’ll be in a good place to request and get some things put in place.”
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal