DSBN Breaks Ground on Walker Living Campus
Over 36,000 students at the District School Board of Niagara will soon have a state of the art environmental learning centre. On Wednesday, April 2, the Board and its partners officially broke ground on the Walker Living Campus at Woodend.
Telling the assembled crowd that the groundbreaking marked the end of the first leg of the journey, Special Initiatives Facilitator Kevin Graham said the moment had been six years in the making.
Saying that a project of this scope required a great deal of vision, Graham credited Director of Education Warren Hoshizaki with “patiently painting a picture” of the potential for a revitalized learning campus at Woodend.
Director Hoshizaki said it was important for the DSBN to update the facilities “while still holding true to the rich history and natural surroundings of Woodend.”
The Walker Living Campus will completely reinvigorate the outdoor education centre currently sitting atop the Niagara escarpment. The development will include a school house consisting of two classrooms, a gathering place where students will explore sustainable building practices and renewable energy sources, and an outdoor classroom for students to become immersed in the beauty of the natural landscape.
Once completed, the Walker Living Campus will host more than 10,000 students each year. The revitalization project will allow students to enjoy learning in an ecologically friendly facility designed to help them gain an appreciation for the environment and an understanding of how they fit into the ecosystem.
Kevin Maves, Chair of the DSBN Board of Trustees, noted that the Woodend project would not have been possible without the generous support of donors and sponsors who contributed over $2.4 million dollars to bring learning to life for students.
“I am pleased to say that this project is being built without a cent of taxpayer dollars,” said Maves.
One of the biggest supporters of the Woodend revitalization project is the Walker family, which contributed $500,000 towards construction. It is the single largest gift the DSBN has every received.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Geordie Walker said Woodend represented a unique opportunity for them at a local level. “We are very proud to be a part of this project, which will be built using sustainable design initiatives,” said Walker.
The TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF), Cogeco Cable and the Ontario Thorold Paper Foundation also contributed significant amounts to making the Walker Living Campus a reality.
“We know a good project when we see one,” said Carolyn Scotchmer, representing TD FEF. “The impacts of a project like this are immeasurable.”
The Walker Living Campus at Woodend is being built on land owned by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA). Kevin Graham said being able to work cooperatively with the NPCA was key to being able to break ground this month.
Representing the Conservation Authority, Bruce Timms echoed Graham’s thoughts, saying the NPCA has always enjoyed a beneficial relationship with the DSBN.
“We are proud to work with the Board to develop this project on a site of great ecological significance,” said Timms.
Students will have an important role to play in the construction of the project. Students from the Specialist High Skills Major Regional Construction program will work alongside Walker and Mountainview Homes to build the campus. Students from the Regional Horticulture program will contribute to the landscaping of the facility.
Poppy Gilliam, Principal of Westdale Public School, said Woodend will be so impactful on student learning. She brought invited two students to share what they enjoyed most about visiting Woodend. Brandon said he liked finding patterns in nature, while Alexa loved seeing all the beautiful colours.
Expected to be completed in the fall of 2014, Director of Education Warren Hoshizaki said “this fabulous facility will be enjoyed and appreciated by students and families for many generations to come.”
Trustees and Senior Administration officially break ground on Woodend.
Westdale students Brandon and Alexa at Wednesday's groundbreaking.
DSBN Director of Education Warren Hoshizaki chats with Westdale students at the groundbreaking.