The City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo school district have agreed in principle to a $4.1-million deal for lands encompassing Serauxmen Stadium and Rotary Bowl.
The two parties made the announcement Thursday. A bulk of the 5.94-hectare land parcel will be used for recreational purposes, while a small parcel adjacent to Vancouver Island University could be developed in the future.
The city and district are also partnering on an artificial turf, Canadian football regulation-sized field near Nanaimo District Secondary School with a price tag of about $2.4 million, with a 50 per cent cost-sharing formula.
Steve Rae, school board chairman, said the district is responsible for education and not sports facility management.
“We can turn one of our assets over and still have the ability to use it like we use it now, gain an all-weather field out of it at half the cost,and put that money back into our schools immediately, as opposed to maintaining those things ourselves. It seemed like the right thing todo,” said Rae.
Previous Nanaimo school boards have discussed constructing a new Nanaimo District high school, but Rae said the Ministry of Education has said there isn’t money for that and the initial plan is to use the $4.1 million on an aging NDSS.
“The ministry is not handing out money for new schools, other than places like Surrey … A new NDSS is not in the future, so this is how we’re going to move forward and try to put money into NDSS this way,” said Rae.
Bill Corsan, city real estate manager, said of the $4.1 million, $1 million came from city parks development cost charges and the remainder from the property acquisition fund.
Corsan said the city wanted ownership and control over Rotary Bowl and Serauxmen stadiums because it views those as community facilities. It hasn’t decided on what to do with the smaller parcel yet.
“Council was keen to acquire that for potential future development opportunities, whether that’s student housing or office space or something like that,” said Corsan.
The school board will hold public consultation at a future date.
Approvals from the Ministry of Education, as well as the school board will be needed as well. The school district will still have access to both stadiums.