Delhi District Secondary School has been approved to begin a $2.5-million fundraiser for a new gymnasium.
The school is home to around 520 students and is the only Grand Erie secondary school without a double-sized gym.
“The project was born out of a desire to make things better for the school and the community simultaneously,” said principal Stephen Wills.
A previous principal and the staff of DDSS looked at the programming needs of the school and came to the decision that the space they have is not adequate for the health and physical education classes.
The high school then approached the school board and asked if it was a viable plan, at which point a viability study was conducted.
Members of the board toured the school to learn about enrolment and facilities. DDSS is at 95 per cent efficiency for their capacity, said Wills.
“They determined that there was a gap between what the students need, and what the students have access to,” he added.
The goal of the fundraiser is to have the money raised by March 2023, and the construction completed for the 2026-27 school year.
“It is going to offer great opportunities for the students at Delhi, no doubt about it,” said Rita Collver, Grand Erie District School Board trustee. “It will also help the community by giving them opportunities for recreational and physical activities in the community. It will really open up more space for everyone.”
Wills mentioned that the school and community have a strong relationship and they have heard positive feedback from different levels of government and community partners.
“The goal is to explore a bunch of different partnership opportunities. We’re willing to work with whoever is willing to work with us,” said Wills. “Be it private donors, local businesses, any levels of the government.”
The expansion of a double-sized gym would allow the school to be a host to tournaments, such as the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association meets, increased performing arts, and increased extra-curricular activity, according to a report submitted by Rafal Wyszynski, the board’s superintendent of business, and treasurer.
“Some people may question the timing but I think this is a great opportunity for the community to have a purpose after this challenge of COVID-19,” said Collver. “I can really see the community rallying around this, and being so supportive.”
The fundraiser is still in early stages and a committee is being put together. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic a clear timeline for the beginning of fundraising has not yet been decided.
The cost of the project has been estimated based on construction-per-square-foot benchmarks in Ontario. A project of this size could cost between $300 to $400 per square foot.
The initial cost estimate is in the range of $2.7 million to $3.6 million based on 2020 construction rates. Those numbers do not include professional fees.
Anyone interested in donating is being asked to contact the school to receive more information.