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             Local Government – School District Collaboration

Opening Summary

The City of Chilliwack and Chilliwack School District #33 have successfully collaborated on a project to
construct the new 900 student capacity, $28.5 million, G.W. Graham Middle Secondary School using a design-
build delivery model. The Minister of Education, in the 2004/2005 Capital Plan, supported the requirement
for a new school in the Sardis/Vedder area of Chilliwack. In an effort to maximize the school program spaces
and amenities, the School District obtained assistance from staff at City Hall in the design-build project
delivery model. The City had extensive experience and knowledge with recent successful design-build projects.
The City also provided additional property to allow expansion of the sports fields by 20 percent in order to
satisfy the increased demand for sports facilities in the Sardis area.

The collaboration between the City and the School District was a natural decision as there were numerous
successful partnerships including sharing uses and responsibilities for a running track, jogging trail, playground
equipment, sports fields and community schools. The co-operation between the City and the School District is
exemplary and the completion of the middle secondary school through the design-build process is expected to
be a catalyst for other institutions to follow. The efficiencies of the design-build approach provided a 20
percent larger facility including a 350 seat theatre, enlarged music room, enhanced audio-visual equipment, an
additional gymnasium, additional student social spaces and additional change rooms. The additional property
from the City increased the playability and the safety of the sports fields and allowed a link to a neighbouring
school site, which will enhance maintenance operations and joint use for major events. This school including
the educational program areas and site amenities, was designed with extensive community consultation lead by
a Steering Committee consisting of students, teachers, parents, Trustees, City staff, School District Staff and
citizens. The outcome was a comprehensive school with a fine arts focus. The collaborative process gained
public support for the first local school that will commingle middle (7-9) and secondary (10-12) programs.
City of Chilliwack – G.W. Graham School                                          UBCM Community Excellence Awards

G.W. Graham School – A Design-Build Partnership
The Ministry of Education 2003/04 Capital Plan included support for the 900 capacity combined middle and secondary
school for the Sardis area. Site acquisition funding was approved in 2003/04 based on the site evaluation and feasibility
study submitted by the School District. A 5.6 hectare site, on Thomas Road, was purchased from Canada Lands

The construction of the 900 capacity school was supported in the 2004/05 Capital Plan. The Board selected the design-
build delivery model. The request for expressions of interest resulted in the selection of two proponents who submitted
proposals for the new school. The Board developed selection criteria that were used to determine the best solution to the
stated school requirements. The proposals were received on January 14, 2005. The Titan Construction Company Limited
proposal received the highest score during the evaluation process. Construction began with the site clearing on March 21,

The budget for the new school was established based on the funding model applied to the traditional design-bid-build
delivery model for school construction. Appropriate price escalation factors were included.

The design-build delivery model results in the builder taking the lead in the project and engaging an architectural firm,
sub consultants and sub-contractors to complete the design and construction. The approach has generated an excellent
school design. The Board determined through the community consolation process, the school would provide a
comprehensive educational program with a fine arts focus and enhanced related technology. The key features included in
the design are as follows:

       The 900 capacity school incorporating a middle school pod organization for 450 middle school students. The
        required teaching areas include: 7 science labs, 2 business ed labs, 2 art rooms, 1 foods room, 1 combined foods
        & textiles, 17 general purpose classrooms, 1 carpentry shop, 1 set construction shop, 1 mechanics shop, 1
        drama/dance room, 1 computer assisted design lab, and 1 music room, plus 1 large gym with divider, 1 small
        gym, 1 weight room, 4 change rooms as well as special education, library, computer lab, and administration areas;
       Enhanced common areas including a multipurpose area, art gallery, separate middle and secondary student
        interaction areas;
       350 seat theatre;
       Enhanced sound, lighting, acoustics and communications technology in the theatre and common areas;
       Sustainable design utilizing high efficiency equipment, heat recovery units, and a ground source (geothermal)
        heating and cooling system;
       2 full size, irrigated, soccer fields and 1 practice field, portable bleachers, 4 tennis courts, 1 outdoor game court, a
        jogging trail, an art patio and outdoor student gathering areas;

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City of Chilliwack – G.W. Graham School                                         UBCM Community Excellence Awards

       256 parking spots, separate bus and parent drop off areas;

The project budget including site acquisition, design, construction and equipment is $28.5 million. In addition the City
expanded the sports field area at a cost of $500,000.

The Chilliwack School Board employed a naming committee and extensive public consultation to determine the name
for the school. The Board selected the name GW Graham Middle Secondary School after Mr. Graham a prominent
Chilliwack resident, who has been involved in education for many years at the local and provincial level. Mr. Graham,
aged 98, participated in the ground-breaking ceremony on March 22, 2005.

The School District’s choice to use the City’s expertise through experience with the design-build approach to build G.W.
Graham School is a unique aspect of the initiative. The design-build approach allowed the School Board to choose the
proponent offering the best value for money through the Request For Proposals (RFP) process. In addition to the
specified requirements in the RFP, the contractor was able to include the following amenities in their proposal to become
the successful applicant: a 350 seat theatre, an additional gymnasium, additional student social spaces and additional
change rooms (2 boys and 2 girls plus one male and one female for community use), plus a sustainable design including a
geothermal heating and cooling system, heat recovery and high efficiency lighting and mechanical equipment. The
combined efforts of the School District with the City also allowed for a better quality sports fields that will be maintained
by the City in exchange for joint usage. The City accepted a 5% land dedication from Canada Lands Company for future
development and provided a 20% increase in the total land available for the fields. The City also funded the
improvements to this additional property.

The benefits to both parties, and the community, include a new, sustainable, comprehensive middle/secondary school
with an abundance of fine arts and sports amenities for use by the students and other citizens in the community.

The need for the new school was supported in the 2004/05 Capital Plan due to recent population growth in Chilliwack,
over-crowding of existing schools and increased demands for sports amenities. Since the City of Chilliwack has had
numerous successful projects completed using the design-build delivery approach, the School District consulted with the
Mayor and Council to obtain staff assistance. The City and the School District have a history of successful partnership
agreements, which allowed for a natural decision to team up once again.

Some of the planning principles identified for the success of the G.W. Graham School and initially considered by the
board were to establish a New School Steering Committee to gain public consultation on the school design, to obtain the
best school possible with the available budget, to allow for the future expansion of the facility from a 900 to 1,200
capacity secondary school, to accommodate two distinct student groupings – 450 grade 7-9 with 2 “pods” of middle

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City of Chilliwack – G.W. Graham School                                           UBCM Community Excellence Awards

school students and 450 grade 10-12 with physically separate areas from the middle school students, to meet the ministry
of education standard for a school of this size as a minimum and to obtain enhancements in functionality, sustainability
and aesthetics.

The New School Steering Committee was instrumental in guiding the planning for the new facilities. The Committee
consisted of the School District staff, administrators, trustees, teachers, parents, students, union members, and City staff.
The committee members brought numerous ideas to the planning process. Through various meetings and public
seminars it was determined that a full range of educational programs was required and the focus for the school would be
towards fine arts with supporting technology. Once the Committee came to a conclusion on the requirements, an RFP
was posted with the following Scope of Works: 17 regular classrooms, 7 science labs, 2 business education labs, 2 art
rooms, 1 foods room and 1 combined foods and textiles room, 1 carpentry shop, 1 set construction shop, 1 mechanics
shop (metal work), 1 drama/dance room, 1 computer assisted design lab, 1 music room with recording studio, 1 large
gymnasium with divider, 1 small gymnasium, 1 weight room and change rooms, 1 library and computer room, special
education areas and administration areas. The site requirements include: 1 playfield, 1 practice field, 2 tennis courts, 1
basketball court, 2 baseball/softball diamonds, 258 paved parking spaces, 3 paved wheelchair accessible parking spaces, 4
loading spaces, paved industrial education work areas, garbage enclosure, driveways, gates, fencing and landscaping. To
be considered acceptable, proposals were first required to meet all the initial requirements for a typical comprehensive
middle/secondary school. Once they met this threshold, the two proposals were evaluated on the enhancements they
provided. The evaluation criteria included 45 points for Functionality, 10 points for Aesthetics, and 45 points for Life-
Cycle Costs/Sustainability.

The facility was designed to accommodate both normal school operations and after hours community use. The theatre
was designed as a separate entity from the school which will facilitate public use after hours and in the educational off-
season. The gymnasiums and sports fields will be utilized by the public after school hours when available and on
weekends with full accessibility to the male and female change/wash rooms. Future considerations will also be made to
allow public accessibility to other program spaces such as computer lab and home economic classroom for adult courses.
The library has potential to be considered as a shared service for citizens in the local area.

The total cost of the project is $28.5 million, which includes the purchase of the site, design, construction, equipment
and supplies. In addition, the City added 20 percent additional land plus the cost of the improvements, which allowed for
expansion of the sports fields. The city land was obtained from the 5 percent land dedication from Canada Lands
Company, the developer of the remainder of the area. The expertise of the City in the design-build delivery model played
a major role in the success of the project. The outcomes of the project included increased services such as the stand-
alone theatre, an additional gymnasium, additional student social spaces, additional change rooms, three irrigated and
drained soccer pitches and 2 ball diamonds, four tennis and one game courts, a jogging trail and a sustainable design

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City of Chilliwack – G.W. Graham School                                           UBCM Community Excellence Awards

including use of geothermal heating and cooling as a renewable energy resource for on-going operating cost savings. The
sustainability of the initiative’s continued operation will rely upon joint use agreements with the School district and the
City to provide the public use of the facilities after hours, which in turn, provides community funding through enjoyed
leisure activities. The sustainable design using high-efficiency equipment, heat recovery units, and a ground source
(geothermal) heating and cooling system will achieve significant savings in operating costs; the building is 50 percent
more efficient than the Model National Energy Code for Buildings. The annual operating grant from the province to the
School District will fund the routine operations and maintenance costs for normal activities. Specific program costs will
be recovered from the user groups.

To date, the G.W. Graham Middle/Secondary School initiative has been developed as a comprehensive
middle/secondary school with two local elementary schools designated as feeder schools. The fine arts focus of the
school is being enhanced as the staff and community build the program offerings. It is expected that the technology
components of the programs will also expand with time. The community demands for the theatre and other fine arts
amenities are expected to increase as the reputation of the quality service spreads. The excellent sports fields have been
identified in the Parks and Recreation annual field allocation plan for community soccer and baseball. Casual use of the
sport courts and fields by the general public will increase as the housing development in the area proceeds over the next
2 to 3 years. This project is a great example of a successful model demonstrating the entire community’s efforts for a
sustainable, cost effective school with full amenities and no compromise to student and public services. G.W. Graham
School is already being monitored by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Small Business as a model for the
delivery of future provincial institutions.

The awareness of the partnership in the community is currently realized by all planning members and citizens who chose
to be involved through the public consultation process. The ground-breaking ceremony was well covered by the radio
and newspaper media raving of the excitement of the project; specific mention of the inclusive consultation process was
made in the Editorial of the local newspaper. The presentations to the school community provided excellent coverage of
the available amenities to a broad spectrum of the public. The benefit to the public from the use of the new facilities will
be a seamless process due to the convenience of city staff allocating all sports facilities for the entire community.

The design-build project initiative defines excellence through the outstanding partnership and collaboration between the
City of Chilliwack and the Chilliwack School District to deliver a first class facility with additional amenities for the
benefiting the entire community. The theatre, gymnasiums, sports fields will be a significant asset to the whole
community for many years. The use of sustainable design features including a geothermal heating and cooling system will
provide long-term use at reduced operating costs resulting in reduced environmental impact. The community is proud of
the excellent new complex generated through the cooperative working relationship of the City and School District.

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City of Chilliwack – G.W. Graham School                                      UBCM Community Excellence Awards

Project completion is in August 2006 but the benefits to the School District, City and community are already clear and
anticipation for use is growing.

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