South Canoe School is no longer up for sale.
The former elementary and alternate school has been taken off the market by the North Okanagan Shuswap School District after more than a year of trying to find a buyer.
But there may be some future in the building returning to its original use.
At a recent school budget meeting, official trustee Mike McKay says the school district may need the school space to alleviate pressure on other elementary schools in Salmon Arm, many of which have seen enrolment increases in the recent year. Should the trend continue, elementary schools in the area could be facing overcrowding. Bastion Elementary, for example, is already deemed at capacity.
McKay noted recent economic declines in Alberta and high house prices on the Lower Mainland have led families to move into the region.
“We are still in discussions. We will have to see what happens in terms of re-purposing (South Canoe), but I think we have to be really careful about selling off our school properties,” said McKay who pointed to discussions regarding the potential sale of Parkview Elementary in Sicamous as an example.
The school district was estimating a purchase price of $500,000 for Parkview school if it was put on the market.
“So we would have had $500,000 in our pockets, but what if suddenly everyone discovers what a wonderful place Sicamous is to live, and enrolment goes way up and we need another school. Do you know what it would cost to buy property and build a new school? he asked the audience assembled at the budget meeting.
After a few audience guesses, McKay came out with a figure — $15 to $20 million.
Last summer, the City of Salmon Arm had made an offer to purchase the unused school for $475,000 conditional on its approval from the Agricultural Land Commission on non-farm use for the property. The plan was to convert the land into the city’s public works yard — a move which sparked considerable outrage among residents in the area.
In November, the ALC chose to deny an application for non-farm use of the property located on the corner of 10 Ave. SE and 60 St. SE and the deal fell apart.