For the first time in more than a century, no students climbed the stairs at Stuart Wood elementary in anticipation on the first day back to school.
After 109 years, the City-owned school at Third Avenue and St. Paul is empty and quiet, left in limbo by the changing needs of education and costly demands of repurposing a heritage building.
Neighbourhood students began attending Beattie elementary Tuesday, based on a school board decision two years ago to leave the downtown heritage school to the City.
“This is about the kids,” Coun. Ken Christian said of the school board’s decision. “It’s disappointing but I understand it completely.”
When the school was ceded to the City years ago, the provincial government stipulated that future use of the building must remain educational.
TRU administration took a hard look at the school as the potential site of a downtown campus but decided that it didn’t fit into their plans.
Now the City awaits clarification from Victoria on its interpretation of “educational use” before taking the next step. In the meantime, the City is spending more than $75,000 a year on maintenance costs for an empty building.
Christian said City council expects to learn from staff within the next month as to how to best manage what he describes as an iconic building. A home for Kamloops Museum and Archives has been suggested as one potential use.
But there has to be a funding partnership with senior government to enable restoration and upgrading, he added.
“Not on our own,” Christian stressed. “It will be a very expensive fix.”