Kelvin gym project axed by province after school raised more than $1M

Kelvin gym project axed by province after school raised more than $1M

A $6.7-million, 17,000-square-foot gym addition promised to Winnipeg's Kelvin High School by the former NDP government won't be receiving funding from the province.

On Friday, Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart announced the approval of 72 infrastructure renewal projects across Manitoba, to the tune of around $44 million, but the Kelvin gym isn't one of them.

In a news release, Wishart said the health and safety of Manitoba students and teachers must be prioritized. The projects going forward include necessary health and safety-related infrastructure upgrades to roofing, mechanical systems and accessibility, the province said in a news release.

Sherri Rollins, chair of the Winnipeg School Division's board of trustees, said she was disappointed and troubled when she learned about the cut in an email late Friday afternoon.

"It's one of the largest high schools in the province, first of all, and second of all, it's impossible for kids to cycle through that gym, right?" she said, adding that the gym doesn't have the space to meet demand. 

"If you have any club, they're working in the hallway or they're outside. You can't cycle through the classes that you need to cycle through," she said.

As part of the deal struck with the NDP, the school and community had already raised more than $1 million for the capital costs of the project, Rollins said. She's still hopeful the project will eventually go forward.

"For sure, as a school division, we will stick [the $1 million] back in the five-year plan," Rollins said. "We'll still submit it to the public schools finance branch for consideration. A 'no' you have, a 'yes' you can get."

'Mean-spirited' cuts, NDP education critic says

The cuts have come under fire by NDP education critic Wab Kinew, who said it was "mean-spirited" to axe the projects "at this late stage."

Kelvin already had blueprints and architectural renderings of the planned space.

Kinew noted that some Kelvin students currently have to pay to use outside facilities to obtain their mandatory phys ed credit and urged the Progressive Conservative government to reconsider.

The projects Wishart announced include:

- $11.3 million for roof replacements for schools in the Brandon, Flin Flon, Mountain View, Pembina Trails, Pine Creek, Prairie Rose, River East Transcona, Seven Oaks, Sunrise, Turtle River and Winnipeg school divisions.

- $14.4 million for mechanical systems replacements for schools in the Brandon, Frontier, Interlake, Lord Selkirk, Pembina Trails, Red River Valley, River East Transcona, Seine River, Seven Oaks, St. James-Assiniboia, Sunrise, Turtle River and Winnipeg school divisions.

- $10.3 million for structural projects for schools in the Lord Selkirk, Mountain View, Pine Creek, Portage la Prairie, Prairie Rose, Seven Oaks, Sunrise, St. James-Assiniboia, Swan Valley, Turtle River and Winnipeg school divisions. 

- $8.8 million for access projects for schools in the Brandon, DSFM, Garden Valley, Hanover, Mountain View, Pembina Trails, Portage la Prairie, River East Transcona, St. James-Assiniboia, Turtle Mountain, Turtle River and Winnipeg school divisions.