The life of the SASCU Downtown Activity Centre as a property of School District 83 may be coming to an end. But accompanying the end of an era could come the birth of a new elementary school.
School District 83’s official trustee Mike McKay reports that an information and feedback session will be held at the DAC on Wednesday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m., where the future of the former school and plans for an elementary school will be discussed.
Plans on the agenda include: sale of the DAC, moving the Storefront School to the main floor of the new District Education Support Centre – also on Shuswap Street; and making a request to the Ministry of Education for capital funds for a new elementary school downtown.
Kim Sinclair, executive director of Aspiral Youth Partners Association, which took over managing the DAC when it closed as a school in order to create a community centre, would also like the public to come to the meeting. He says the partnership with the school district over the past 15 years has been a great one which he is sorry to see possibly coming to an end.
“Our hope is that the community will come out if this is something important, that they will come out and let the school district know that… I think the power of the community is the voice that needs to be heard.”
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McKay outlines the background of the plan to sell the DAC, which was closed as an elementary school in 2003. The board received updated approval from the Education Minster in October 2015 to initiate proceedings for the sale. At that time, the board decided not to sell the property.
“Currently, much of the building is leased and we have our Salmon Arm Storefront program operating there as well. While it is fully utilized, it is no longer justifiable for the school district to continue using operating funds to keep the building operating,” McKay states. “Lease revenues cover many of the ongoing costs, but the district must annually allocate operating budget and time to maintain the property. I believe those funds should be made available to support other budget priorities. Most urgent is that we know there are several pending building and site improvements that would have a significant impact on our district’s resources.”
To renovate the DAC so it meets current building standards has been estimated at more than $8 million, he says.
Related: Efforts to save the DAC continue
The district’s draft plan will be outlined in more detail at Wednesday’s meeting, which will include gathering feedback from the public.
Alice Hucul, with district communications, says the school district still owns the approximate four-acre piece on the north side of the property near First Avenue SW, which could be a consideration for a school site – although nothing has been decided. About 110 students from kindergarten to Grade 5 live in the downtown area.
Users and uses of the DAC have included: badminton, Salmon Arm pipe band, cello lessons, duplicate bridge, meditation, Questers, Toastmasters, gospel coffeehouse, Metis coffeehouse, Shuswap Daycare, Narcotics Anonymous, Salmon Arm actors, Responsible Drivers program, Round dancing, midget hockey, lacrosse, Shuswap miners, Shuswap women’s rec soccer, Canadian Mental Health Association, Employer’s advisory, air cadets, Grace church, Voice of the Shuswap radio, Kids Club after school program and The Loft program.