The Sooke School District may look to sell the Metchosin School, which now hosts community arts and seniors groups. Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff

Sooke School District looks to dispose of Metchosin School

Property currently hosts Metchosin Arts & Cultural Centre Association

While the Sooke School District is looking to build new schools and expand some of its existing facilities, it’s also looking to get rid of one that hasn’t held regular classes in over a decade.

Metchosin elementary school played host to Happy Valley elementary students in the wake of the 2004 fire that destroyed the original school, as well as some of the district’s trades programs a few years ago, but otherwise it has remained dormant as far as public education is concerned.

Late last month school trustees passed first reading of a bylaw that would allow SD62 to looks at the disposition of the property, which sits within the Metchosin village and has hosted the Metchosin Arts and Cultural Centre Association (MACCA) for the past seven years, as well as the Metchosin Seniors’ Information and Resource Centre.

Superintendent Jim Cambridge shared three reasons why they are looking at disposition.

Firstly, he said, there is little projected growth in the area and it’s become clear that the school won’t be re-opening.

“The second reason is that the revenue generated from rentals doesn’t cover the cost of operating and maintaining the building,” Cambridge noted.

The third reason is tied to the school district’s planned expansion. “The government would like us to contribute to that and part of their conditions are to get rid of surplus property,” he said.

The property’s value has been assessed, but Cambridge declined to disclose any figures.

Art Brendon, chair of MACCA, wrote a letter to the district board outlining their hopes for the building on behalf of the organization.

“It is our belief that the entire property could be operated sustainably as a public access facility,” he wrote.

Brendon detailed that the centre has become an arts and culture hub for the community, local artists and organizations.

“This is not just a ‘piece of property’ but the actual geographic and social heart of a community. Any use for this property must respect and reflect this,” he continued in the letter.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, who attended the school in his youth, would like to see the school district go in a different direction.

“From sitting on the outside and seeing how difficult it is to find school sites and seeing how fast Colwood and Langford are growing … I would like them to reconsider the sale altogether and maybe work with us on how to establish an arts-based school option,” he said.

The property is zoned for instutitional use and Ranns said Metchosin won’t allow re-zoning. He said they’ve floated an offer to the school district that falls below the assessed value, but that an agreement hasn’t been reached. A completed sale would likely see Metchosin secure leases for its user groups before selling the building to a private educational instution.

Conversations with private interests have already taken place, Ranns confirmed.

The school district’s bylaw is scheduled to receive second and third readings at a meeting on May 23. “If they do that we’ll be having to put it to tender through an agent,” Cambridge said.

The school district wants to have a piece of land near Latoria Road and Happy Valley Road excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve in order to host a new middle school and eventually an additonal elementary school. They also have land in Colwood earmarked for another elementary school, the location of which remains undisclosed.

Altogether, four new schools are planned for the near future.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

Twitter: @joelgazette

Just Posted

Highlands celebrating 25 years of incorporation

Event features a video look at the District’s history

Third rink needed immediately at Pearkes, say users

Only four ice pads for Saanich, Victoria groups

City of Victoria looks for emergency shelter options amidst bed shortage

My Place considered for tier-2 shelter during harsh weather

B.C. historian helped Viola Desmond make it on the $10 bill

Merna Forster of Oak Bay petitioned for years for a Canadian woman to be honoured on currency

Algae bloom at Elk Lake prompts CRD advisory notice

Reappearance of blue-green algae lethal to dogs a constant concern for water quality

Victoria Grizzlies partner with Military Family Resource Centre for military appreciation

The Grizzlies met with children at the centre’s daycare Tuesday

Good Food Summit plants seeds for food security

The Good Food Summit runs Nov. 22 and 23

POLL: Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

The Christmas lights are twinkling and holiday music is playing in local… Continue reading

Trial: Witness describes encounter with accused murderer while tending to fatally injured Descoteau

Wright said he was working in his yard when he heard a woman screaming.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Most Read