The Revelstoke School District has come up with multiple options for sub-dividing the Mount Begbie Elementary school site, ranging from larger single-family lots, to denser townhouse development.
“It’s a very preliminary overview of the work that we’ve prepared that would roll out later this winter for a big open house around potential uses for the site,” said Anne Cooper, the former school district superintendent who is handling the sale of the old school sites.
The school district provided seven main options to the city for the site, each with several variations. They were put together with help from planning consultant Graham Farstad.
Possibilities include dividing the three-acre property into as little as nine single family lots, all the way to a design that would include multiple townhouses. Some options include preserving the school gym, built in 1993, as a community space, and all call for the rest of the school building to be demolished. All provide for preserving some form of park space.
None of the options consider commercial use. “It’s not consistent with the OCP currently,” said Cooper. “I don’t believe our analysis has shown any real need in that location for commercial.”
The proposal went in front of the city’s development services committee earlier this month. “Discussion was mostly centre on who else should review this,” said Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services.
He said the report would be referred to the city’s parks, recreation & culture committee, and that he would be preparing a report for council to discuss next year.
“Likely council will have some options and discussion around what’s being suggested,” he said.
Strachan agreed that the site likely wouldn’t support much commercial development. “It’s certainly likely to be residential oriented,” he said. “I don’t see how larger commercial would be supported by that neighbourhood. There’s not enough population density to support much more than what’s already there.”
Part of the discussion will be on whether or not the city wants to acquire in the gym.
The assessed value of the land is $518,000, while the buildings are worth $2,438,000 — though the report says, “Clearly the buildings do not have this value at this time.”
Cooper said the goal was to get input from the city before holding an open house and seeking community feedback.
When asked why the school district wouldn’t just try to sell the site and let the prospective developer handle the re-zoning, Cooper responded that re-zoning would make it easier to sell. “If we can get it re-zoned to something that removes that obstacle and removes that small risk, we might as well do that now,” she said.
The school district is also planning to re-zone the Mountain View Elementary site in order to facilitate its sale. So far two requests for proposals have been issued to solicit ideas for developing the site, but no responses were received each time.
“It’s one less concern that people have, that they end up buying a property and can’t get the zoning they want,” she said.
The district will be applying to re-zone the site as a comprehensive development zone that will allow for a mix of residential development.
They are also hoping to restart on re-zoning, sub-dividing and selling the old Big Eddy Elementary site now that movement is underway to address neighbourhood water issues. “We’re going to look carefully this winter to do the remaining work to put them on the market ourselves and be our own developer,” said Cooper.
The school district is expected to return $2.4 million to the B.C. Ministry of Education from the sale of the surplus school sites as part of the contract for the construction of the new schools.
You can read the school district’s report on the Mount Begbie Elementary site on the Review website.