Good news for the General Gordon Elementary’s little yellow school house.
Vancouver School Board Trustee Patti Bacchus says it’s looking into options to preserve the building, and at the very least it will stand for another week.
Options for the fate of the schoolhouse will be discussed at a public meeting next week.
“The number one preference of the community is to keep it where it is. The second option would be trying to move it somewhere else, maybe off-site for another purpose. The least favorite option is demolition”.
If the schoolboard chooses to move it, it won’t be cheap.
“We’ve had various estimates over the years ranging from 100 thousand dollars to move it to 500 thousand dollars to move it. There is a hazardous materials issue with the building, it does contain asbestos and lead paint. Any movement would require full hazmat abatement”.
Bacchus says the trustees didn’t have enough information to assure that all options have been looked at.
Previously, a group of Kitsilano residents appealed to the City of Vancouver to save the 100 year old schoolhouse that could be demolished as part of a seismic upgrading project.
The West Kitsilano Residents Association estimates the “Arts and Crafts” style schoolhouse which is on the General Gordon Elementary property was built in 1912.
On its website, the community group claims the Vancouver School Board had originally told them the building would be retained as a part of the project, but later changed track and plan to demolish the building to make way for a teachers’ parking lot.
“To demolish a beautiful historic building like this for the sake of a few parking spaces makes no sense, particularly in a city like Vancouver that is striving to be a green city, that is rapidly losing its heritage resources, and that also has a shortage of community space.”
But in an update this weekend to a petition to save the structure, campaigners say they believe it could be torn down this week.
They’re calling on the city to halt the demolition and instead renovate the property to act as a daycare using provincial funding announced last year to create new childcare spaces.
VSB Trustee Patti Bacchus says the plan to demolish was never a plan adopted by the Board, and that it was something staff said as they were getting into the major part of the project.
“And it turned out we really didn’t have enough funding in the Ministry’s budget for us to do the original project, so staff had said their plan was to demolish the building.”
“We’re hearing a great outcry from the community, and rightly so.”
She says the Board asked staff to look for alternatives a couple years ago, including moving the building off-site.
Bacchus hopes to find a solution this week, and will be meeting with senior management Monday before their public board meeting.
– With files from Emily Lazatin