The fate of the century-old yellow schoolhouse on the grounds of General Gordon elementary school in Kitsilano is getting increasingly complicated. The building was scheduled for demolition to make room for teacher parking, but concerned residents have raised convincing arguments about historic preservation, sparking a big fat, “what now?” from all concerned parties.
For the parents of students at General Gordon, and additional delay to school construction is detrimental to their kids’ well-being. Students have spent two years in portable trailers, getting bused to alternative locations, and various other disruptions to their education and social stability.
Parent comments on our coverage have pointed out that the demolition has been scheduled for two years, and now is not the time to panic and delay.
On the other hand, the conservationists have made the salient point that the Vancouver School Board needs to step it up on awareness and action. The City of Vancouver should come to terms with the fact that the Vancouver School Board is the custodian of the largest collection of heritage architecture in the city. The public should be aware of the degree to which these things are actually not being preserved.
Relocation, whether on- or off-site, comes with increased cost due to the complexity of the move and complications caused by the presence of asbestos and lead paint. Moving the building off-site would also require cutting the structure into three parts and removing up to 20 mature trees from the property.
VSB staff estimates for both options do not include the cost of moving the building or amending existing construction contracts. Relocating on-site would cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to move or maintain BC Hydro, fire alarm, security, water and sewage services for the schoolhouse, plus $8,600 annually in operating, maintenance and custodial costs.
According to a VSB staff report to be presented to the board tonight, the City of Vancouver said it would not contribute funds to keep the building for childcare use. The city indicated it would be cost-prohibitive due to the price tag of bringing the building up to code and its limited capacity.
Last modified: March 9, 2016