South Wellington Elementary School. (Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools photo)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district looking at demolishing South Wellington school

School board passes 2020-21 capital projects bylaw motion

Demolition of South Wellington Elementary School is on the Nanaimo school district’s capital projects list for 2020-21.

The school, situated south of Nanaimo, was shuttered in 2013. While the school board passed a capital plan bylaw at its regular meeting April 22 that includes plans to raze the building, it also approved a separate motion seeking a meeting with the South Wellington and Area Community Association and the Regional District of Nanaimo as part of business case development for demolition.

Trustee Stephanie Higginson introduced the meeting motion, citing long-time interest from the community.

“I know that they are really chomping at the bit to be able to make this property something that’s meaningful to their community and I just think that we need a little bit of communication with them,” Higginson said. “I’m not talking about a huge detailed plan … if we have to develop a business case for the demolition, then it feels to me like it’s an opportunity to include that initial consultation that could help provide that direction.”

At the meeting, Pete Sabo, school district executive director of planning and operations, told the board the building is not without issues and would be at risk in the event of an earthquake.

“When it was on our seismic plan, when it was a building that was in use, it was rated the highest seismic risk of all elementary schools…” said Sabo. “Besides that, it wasn’t in the best condition and it could be described at this point as dilapidated.”

However, Sabo also said use of the building “could be viewed in the eye of the beholder,” pointing to situations at Cedar secondary and North Oyster elementary schools where volunteers wanted to “take over a building that the district was looking to demolish.”

According to a staff report, capital plan submissions are due to the B.C. Ministry of Education by June 30, although the ministry has requested a draft business case for school demolition by June 1. The ministry spends the summer and fall reviewing all submissions, the report said.

The total estimated budget for school demolition is $550,000, according to the report.

The News Bulletin has reached out to the South Wellington and Area Community Association for comment.

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