Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board approved a recommendation for Franklyn Street gym demolition. Pictured here, Nanaimo Fire Rescue staff on scene after a gym fire in October 2018. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board approved a recommendation for Franklyn Street gym demolition. Pictured here, Nanaimo Fire Rescue staff on scene after a gym fire in October 2018. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustees decide to demolish Franklyn Street gym

SD68 board votes to demolish heritage building, damaged by fire in October 2018

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board has decided to demolish the Franklyn Street gym.

The 97-year-old building, on the corner of Franklyn and Wesley streets, was damaged in a 2018 fire and insurance money isn’t adequate enough to fully fund repairs, last estimated at $1.3 million, according to the district. Trustees voted, at their Nov. 25 board meeting, to tear down the heritage building alongside the old district career resource centre on Selby Street.

B.C. Ministry of Education approval for resource centre demolition had been granted, Mark Walsh, district secretary-treasurer, said at a Nov. 18 business committee meeting. While bids came in “a little higher” than originally anticipated, the ministry was supportive, Walsh said, and officials are confident that gym demolition can take place using insurance money and “small investment” from local capital.

A staff report stated the facility is “long past its useful life from a building systems perspective,” but following a question at the business committee meeting, from trustee Jessica Stanley about reusing anything from the gym, Walsh said the gym floor is still functional and will be moved to Pleasant Valley Elementary School if demolition is approved.

Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Society had used the gym to serve “vulnerable youth and families,” the report said, and the non-profit has since been relocated to the Woodlands Secondary School site, which it said wasn’t an ideal situation, as there was a decrease in program attendance. Scott Saywell, district superintendent and CEO, told the committee Grace Elliott Nielsen, Tillicum Lelum Friendship Centre executive director, had been informed about the latest developments.

When trustee Greg Keller asked about considering future programming for the site in the long-range facilities plan at the business meeting, staff said there were things in the works.

“We’re working with a few partners, that include the City of Nanaimo, B.C. Housing, Snuneymuxw, Tillicum Lelum and Kw’umut Lelum – really just initial conversation to explore what opportunities might exist down on that property, in a way not unlike our Te’tuxwtun property on Fifth Street,” said Saywell. “The designs would be to imagine sort of a ‘village’ down there, but [they’re] very initial conversations and certainly nothing substantial for sure.”

While a majority of trustees voted in favour of the recommendation at the business meeting, some, including board chairperson Charlene McKay, said they were conflicted.

“The value of a building goes beyond its monetary value and I think that this is a piece of history that is highly valued by members of our community, trustees, people who have grown up in Nanaimo and most certainly Tillicum Lelum…” said McKay. “The possibilities are endless when all of us come together about what we can create in that space, and I’m sorry that it wasn’t a revitalization of the gym for future use, but I believe that we can still find a good way to work together in that area of the land.”

Nielsen told the News Bulletin she was saddened and services offered at the site had benefited many.

“We worked probably with three or four generations of families over the years there and we have managed to redirect and support some people that would probably not go anywhere else for services,” Nielsen said. “Although this school district has been good about letting us use Woodlands, it really isn’t in a location that we can address the needs of the people that we had served before. Some of them we can, but usually those are the ones that are doing not too bad anyway.“

Nielsen said she has ideas for the potential village at the old gym site.

“We were mostly concentrating on let’s make it look really nice and have a field and a gym where we can work with the kids and provide the wraparound services that we did there before,” said Nielsen.

All trustees voted in favour of the recommendation at Wednesday’s board meeting. Stephanie Higginson abstained from voting on the recommendation due to a perceived conflict of interest, as she said her husband had “arms-length” involvement.

RELATED: SD68 may combine demolition of gym, resource centre demolitions

RELATED: Council gives SD68 OK to demolish Franklyn Street gym

RELATED: Nanaimo heritage building damaged by fire

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Longlake Chateau in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak now over at seniors’ facility in Nanaimo

Island Health commends Longlake Chateau for containing the spread of the virus

Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigator Mark Jonah probes the scene of a blaze that destroyed two apartments on Sunday, April 18. The cause of the blaze has not been determined. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: RCMP say Wakesiah Avenue fire was arson, suspect has been arrested

35-year-old man arrested for allegedly starting fire lived in the complex

The City of Nanaimo will further investigate an initiative to set up two 12-cabin sites to create transitional emergency housing for people experiencing homelessness. (Black Press file photo)
City of Nanaimo will ask for expressions of interest to operate tiny cabin sites

Staff expresses concern about workload, councillor says sheltering people must take priority

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Club Phoenix Fitness in Langford is the first Island business to be ordered closed by the provincial workplace closure order put into effect April 11. It will be closed until at least April 29. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
Langford gym first Island business to be closed by public health order

Workplace closure order can now close businesses with three or more COVID-19 cases

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

Alex Mah of Chemainus spends a sunny day at Kin Beach reading to daughter Beatrice Mah. 3. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Vancouver Island’s mini-summer poised to fade

Cooler and damper this weekend, summer-like conditions not likely to return until late June

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)
B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Small wildfire burning in difficult terrain near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating, but confirms blaze is human-caused

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Most Read