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EDITORIAL – Stuart Wood needs to be recommissioned as a school

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE DOWNTOWN CORE is getting crowded. New apartment blocks are densifying the heart of the city. With 445 units in the new City Gardens proposal between Nicola and Battle Streets, there will be even more people living close by the city’s main shopping area.

Based on the usual average of 2.5 people per living unit, that could mean a lot of kids in a one-square block area.

Where will they go to school? If they were to move into a completed City Gardens today, they’d have to be bussed somewhere else.

But there’s a beautiful school just a couple of blocks away, if only our civic leaders would show some vision and common sense. It’s called Stuart Wood School.

It was closed four years ago by a school board that chickened out on the costs of restoring it and raising it to modern building-code standards.

Ever since, negotiations have been going on aimed at turning it into a museum and indigenous cultural centre. It’s an OK idea but it’s second best to what the building should be used for, which is a school.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — clearly, with residential construction exploding nearby, there’s a growing need to return Stuart Wood to its intended use.

Stuart Wood is a heritage gem. Restoring and upgrading it for school use might soften the loss of 20 heritage homes that will be bulldozed to make way for City Gardens. The developers are keen community supporters and may even be interested in contributing to the costs.

After all, their development will create the need for a school. And having a school close by would make their development more attractive to buyers.

So, the City and School Board need to get back together and rethink the situation and the future of Stuart Wood.

In other words, show some common sense.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7758 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

11 Comments on EDITORIAL – Stuart Wood needs to be recommissioned as a school

  1. lorrainewinter // October 3, 2020 at 11:04 AM // Reply

    The pic above shows a child standing almost alone in an almost empty schoolyard. Stuart Wood could and should once again become the vibrant neighbourhood place of learning and childhood memories that it was originally built to be. I’d love to see our downtown kids walk just a few blocks to get to their own school and go crazy wild at recess. Since there will be more young children moving into the neighbourhood in a few years (City Gardens), let’s do what we can to give all the kids in the downtown a good place to grow from.
    I appreciate your editorial Mel, and the comments from Denis, Trish, Trudy, Frank and others. Nothing beats a beautiful heritage school just a few blocks away.

  2. Dear School Board.
    Move French Immersion to Ralph Bell and have Lloyd George be the downtown school again.
    With the debt from Covid 19 (more to come and needed) we cannot afford all the new schools you have proposed. And we do need a downtown school. Stuart Wood could be a costly reno. Parkcrest children are in George Hilliard. Hopefully the funds for Parkcrest are in place.

  3. Mel, I agree 100% with your editorial for the reason’s you have stated, including many more. The recent Downtown Planning Advisory Committee (DTAC) also identified the need for a future public elementary school in the downtown core. There were 5 expert planners involved from Vancouver, that suggested if we want higher density and attract young families to live downtown, we will need to have a new elementary school in the Downtown core. A possible new school site was identified near 7th ave./Nicola&Battle, but a brief research shows it could cost taxpayers $20-30 mil to build a new elementary school downtown. With the Stuart Wood site, we have been told it would cost maximum $5mil to upgrade Stuart Wood to a safer and more functional elementary public school. If people feel strong about restoring Stuart Wood as a school, it will require a focused effort from residents and businesses to lobby our Provincial Government, School District 73, along with both Tk’emlups te Secwépemc Council and City Council. When successful, we could save Province and resident taxpayers some money, restore an outstanding heritage site and help create a more balanced and vibrant Downtown community by attracting more young families to move Downtown.

    • Thanks, Denis. Can you supply a list of names, email addresses and phone numbers for our lobby messages.

    • Well Denis, why should the public spend time, put in the effort and suffer the headaches when it should be your job and your colleagues job to do the right thing and truly look after local matters? Why not stand up and be counted, with courage and with a loud voice if need be?

      • Sheila Park // October 1, 2020 at 10:17 AM //

        Pierre
        Because we live in a democracy. It is not just elected officials jobs. It is ours as residents so stop bullying and contact Trish and help out. Trish I will help from home but please read my comment re Lloyd George. That in my thinking is the
        best and least cost right now and quickest. It could be done by next Sept.
        PS Denis W stands up and uses his voice a lot on our behalf, thank you Denis

  4. Make it a real neighbourhood standard curriculum school. Not a special interest school which would necessitate children coming from all over the city to attend. It would be suitable for the west end, downtown, and Sagebrush neighbourhoods.

  5. In total agreement!

  6. Super Mel. A school, especially an elementary school, is at the heart of community. We should remember all the benefits of walking to school in your own neighbourhood – what this inoculates in children. The pandemic – and future ones – should encourage resistance to the scourge of bussing. Gutting community to throw up ever more pricey apartments invariably degrades the human scale of a vibrant downtown. This brick palace of sorts has sat vacant for too long. It is a fine and historic school. Let’s return it to that prized role.

  7. Your brain is working overtime and clearly, clearly. Will they listen or put up a fight just because it wasn’t their idea hence find excuses for not making it happen?

  8. Trudy Montgomery // September 29, 2020 at 4:49 AM // Reply

    Well said, Mel. So sensible to return that beautiful old gem to a school which also happens to be its’ highest and best use. Council could do with a decision showing they understand the heart of a community is its’ roots. Upgrade Stuart Wood to today’s standards, make it a community school and get buy-in from the developer. Perhaps Council needs a delegation of concerned folks to bring good attention and share creative ideas with them.

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