Work on the foundation of the Tulnuxw Lelum Cultural Learning Space building at Bowser school goes on in early fall. Organizers of the project have since asked the RDN for more money and more time to finish the project, while they continue to fundraise. — Submitted by Laura Bonnor

Work on the foundation of the Tulnuxw Lelum Cultural Learning Space building at Bowser school goes on in early fall. Organizers of the project have since asked the RDN for more money and more time to finish the project, while they continue to fundraise. — Submitted by Laura Bonnor

Bowser school asks RDN to double funding for outdoor learning area

From $30,000 to $60,000 for Tulnuxw Lelum Cultural Learning Space

Bowser Elementary School is looking to the Regional District of Nanaimo to double the funding of an outdoor learning space that aims to teach greater understanding about local First Nations.

The school’s Tulnuxw Lelum Cultural Learning Space project has been ongoing since 2016, with a fire pit, a garden of local flora and trails comprising the first phase of the work.

Since June 21, work on constructing a traditional Aboriginal building beside the fire pit has been ongoing.

Originally estimated to cost $50,000, the 24- by 36-foot building had some donors lined up before work began, with local individuals and companies contributing donations, and the RDN pledging $30,000.

Teacher Laura Bonnor, one of the project organizers, was also hopeful the building could be useable by September.

However, in a letter to the RDN board, she and other organizers asked the RDN to increase their funding pledge from $30,000 to $60,000.

“We have begun on the foundations and are proceeding with the structure,” reads the letter, received by the RDN Committee of the Whole on Oct. 10. “However, construction costs throughout the process have continued to escalate.”

Those unforseen costs include extra work in preparing the ground for the foundation, difficulty in finding construction companies to work with, and a general increase in the cost of the work since the school applied for funding, said Bonnor.

“Also I’m sure we were a bit thrifty… thinking we could get it done for cheaper than we could,” she said.

The letter also asks that the RDN move the deadline for the project from the beginning of November of this year to Nov. 11, 2018. Weather is slowing the foundation work, said Bonnor, adding that organizers continue to hope to find a timber company willing to donate logs.

The idea isn’t necessarily to use all the time or the money they’ve asked of the RDN, said Bonnor. Securing the funds from the RDN would allow work on the project to continue as she and others continue to secure donations from elsewhere.

“We can’t go out on a limb and say to a company that we’d be able to pay this, and then we can’t as it turns out,” Bonnor said. “In order to proceed, we need some assurances that we can cover (costs). But we are still receiving all kinds of support from the community.”

Talks with the local Rotary Club having begun, and the Qualicum First Nation Band is providing support, said Bonnor.

“We’re very optimistic,” she said.

The committee of the whole has unanimously passed a motion to allocate up to $60,000 and extend the deadline into November. The motion has yet to be carried by the RDN board.