Medium-density housing preferred for Mount Begbie school site

Public sentiment is leaning towards medium-denisty development on the old Mount Begbie Elementary site

Public sentiment is leaning towards medium-denisty development on the old Mount Begbie Elementary site, following an open house held last Tuesday.

“I think there is significant interest in the options that involve smaller lot sizes,” said Anne Cooper, the retired superintendent who is managing the disposition of the surplus school sites for the Revelstoke School District.

The school district presented four main options for dividing up the school site in Southside at an open house at the community centre on Tuesday, June 21. The Review did not attend the open house, but spoke to Cooper on the phone the following morning.

She said about 50 people came out to the open house. “We were very pleased with the level of engagement of folks that came by,” she said.

All four options would have a few elements in common — they would preserve park space, involve demolishing the school and gymnasium, and restrict access to homes from Fourth Street.

Option A involved 10 large lots of about 1,000 square-metres in size each, similar to what exists in the neighbourhood right now. The existing playground would be maintained.

Option B would also include large lots, but the park space would be located along Fourth Street.

Option C divides the property into smaller lots centred around a cul de sac extending from Downie Street, with some accessed from Edward Street. The existing park would be maintained.

Option D is for a townhouse development, with access via an alley between Downie and Edward. The park would be located about where the existing gymnasium is right now.

You can look at each option at the end of this article.

“The majority of the interest is around ones that look something like C or D, with some variations,” said Cooper.

One potentially controversial element is the call to demolish the gymnasium. There was talk of maintaining it as a community space, but the school district says it would be too expensive to make the building a stand-alone facility once the rest of the school is demolished, and that its location in the middle of the property would make it difficult to redevelop the rest.

“Right now it looks like it really isn’t doable,” said Cooper. “It’s in the middle of the site and would affect the whole development.”

She said the district is looking to demolish the old school this fall.

The school district is now going over the feedback from the open house and will use it to prepare a re-zoning application with the city.

Cooper said they would likely seek some sort of comprehensive development zone that would allow for a variety of densities and housing types.

“A broad re-zoning so it would be somebody else that would assess market conditions for strata homes or duplexes or single-family,” she said.

Mount Begbie Open House panels by AlexCooperRTR