Mold creating uncertainty around fate of closed down schools

As the condition of shutdown schools in the Prince Rupert School District (SD52) deteriorates, the fate of the buildings are in question.

As the condition of shutdown schools in the Prince Rupert School District (SD52) deteriorates, the fate of the buildings are once again being questioned.

Four schools in SD52 have been closed in recent years, starting with Seal Cove and Kanata in 2008, Westview Elementary in 2011 and Port Edward Elementary in 2012.

While the Port Edward-property was taken over by the District of Port Edward, SD52 is currently still responsible for the three remaining properties.

When SD52 secretary-treasurer Cam McIntyre shared the results of recent air quality studies undertaken at Kanata and Seal Cove, it raised questions and concerns from members of the board of education.

“They have come to the conclusion that our employees need to be masked up now when they go into [the Kanata and Seal Cove] buildings because of the degree of mold,” McIntyre said during the June school board meeting earlier this month.

For trustee Janet Beil, the findings highlighted the need to take action so district employees don’t have to work in unsafe conditions.

“As a board we have … a responsibility to our employees to move on these issues and either do something to dispose of them or force the issue on the province,” said Beil.

SD52 has discussed the topic with the B.C. Ministry of Education previously, however no action has been taken as of yet.

The Kanata property may soon be out of the district’s hands, with the board of education recently accepting an offer to purchase the site.

But SD52 cannot sell the Seal Cove and Westview properties, as the land was provided to the district on the condition it be used for educational purposes.

While McIntyre said the district has no intentions of reopening either as a school, SD52 is looking to consolidate district offices into the Westview building.

Although its in better condition because it has remained heated since its closure, it would still cost approximately $3 million to completely restore Westview. But McIntyre noted not all of the restoration work would be necessary to get people into the building.

But for now, McIntyre said the schools will remain sitting unused.

“It’s a file that’s on my desk to continue to work at,” he said.