Cost Of Troubled Auguston School Just Keeps Rising

Abbotsford School District staff and plumbers had to jackhammer the concrete at the troubled Auguston School on Saturday, April 12th, because of problems with the sprinkler system and the plumbing.

The Abbotsford School District told Abbotsford Today Tuesday that, “On early Saturday, April 12 there was a leak in sprinkler line in part of Auguston school resulting in a hallway and five of the lower floor classrooms receiving water damage,” said the School District

“During the initial response and repair work, personnel from Abbotsford Fire & Rescue Service that attended used a steel bar to open the sprinkler room door; later school district Facilities staff had to jack hammer the concrete floor to get at the pipe joint in order to do the repair.”

“School District crews and plumbers were on site the Saturday and Sunday (April 12+13) repairing the sprinkler issue and fixing any areas affected by the flood, including removing and replacing some drywall and flooring. The school opened as per regular schedule on Monday, April 14.”

“The report on the damages is sent to School Protection Branch within the Ministry of Education for insurance coverage. We have no figure on these costs,” the District added.

John Smith

John Smith

The school, which was built as a P3 project while John Smith was Chairman of the Abbotsford School Board, was built by the Hong Kong developer who built the Auguston subdivision and Field & Marten Associates.

Smith touted the deal as a win-win for taxpayers, the developer and the the school district. It was the first controversial P3 development in Abbotsford and it quickly fell apart. Only the developer seems to have won out by being paid for a project which taxpayers have spent years and millions of dollars fixing.

According to a report by Janet Steffenhagen of the Vancouver Sun, “The plan, announced at a news conference in 1999 by former NDP finance minister Joy MacPhail and former board chairman John Smith, would see Beautiworld Development Corp. build the school according to provincial guidelines and the board lease the building at an annual cost of $228,000 for 20 years. After that, it would have an option to buy.”

The deal unravelled within months of MacPhail’s announcement, however, and the province, faced with mounting legal bills and no other investor in sight, bought the school outright.” – Janet Steffenhagen of the Vancouver Sun.

Joanne Field

Joanne Field

Raymond Field, director of Field & Marten, is married to Joanne Field, who served on the Abbotsford School Board for 15 years, four of those as chair. Field refused requests to comment on the building when the Vancouver Sun initially broke the story.

The Auguston School quickly developed a reputation as sink hole for taxpayer funds with the cost of repairs reaching almost as high as the cost of building the school.

According to a report by Janet Steffenhagen of the Vancouver Sun November 10, 2008, the school, ” which opened in September of 2000, was built faster than usual and at a cost that was 10 per cent below normal.

[excerpt] “Today, the elementary school is draped with tarps, students have been shuffled to avoid construction and the province has a significant repair bill.
“Auguston is the only leaky school in the Abbotsford district, but it is one of several dozen leaky schools in B.C. being repaired at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars under the provincial Building Envelope Program.”



Auguston traditional school, which initially cost $3 million, was hailed at the time as a win-win deal for the developer, who needed a school to accelerate house sales, the school board and a government anxious to avoid debt and uncertain about whether a school was needed in that location.

The building cost $678,000 for the purchase of the land and $3 Million to construct. Repair estimates for the school have been upwards of $2 Million with questions now being raised about the entire foundation, footing and floors of the building.

Auguston has not been the city’s only experience with the P3 formula.

Smith was also a major proponent of Abbotsford P3 hospital and the scheme to use a P3 formula to buy a new water supply for a city in a rainforest without the capacity in its water pipes to handle the amount of water we currently have.

Former Mayor George Peary

Former Mayor George Peary

It was later revealed that while the City of Abbotsford was actively promoting the Yes side in the referendum to spend some $300,000,000 on the fictitious water shortage, the City knew full well it was not facing a water shortage.

George Peary was retired by voters after one term.

Frank Pizzuto

Frank Pizzuto

City Manager Frank Pizzuto, who, along with then economic development manager Jay Teichroeb, played an active role in publicly pushing for the massive P3 project and telling citizens economic development in the City
Jay teichroeb

Jay teichroeb

would come to an end without a new water supply, left the City’s employ last year.

John Smith, who never tires of reminding fellow councillors and the public that back in the last century he was once a banker, is finishing out his third term as a councillor best known for pushing through the mammoth financial disaster which Plan A has become for taxpayers and for his part in a decade-long battle to criminalize homelessness in Abbotsford.

Leave a Reply