School District 69 Superintendent Rollie Koop speaks to a Qualiucm Beach Chamber of Commerce gathering last week.

Foggy future for Qualicum Commons

School district superintendent says building needs pricey upgrades

Since closing down the former Qualicum Beach Elementary School in 2014, School District 69 and the Town of Qualicum Beach have turned the facility into a “vibrant” success story.

But looming infrastructure upgrades and the Town’s Official Community Plan (OCP) leave the facility’s long-term future in question, the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce learned during its meeting in the newly-named Qualicum Commons on Wednesday evening.

Beginning with the signing of a licensing agreement with the Society of Organized Services (SOS) to be the anchor tenant, the school district has brought in private businesses, government agencies and social services providers, as well as its own Distributed Learning Program, to fill the former school classrooms and offices.

“We knew really clearly, given the strategic location of this building in downtown core Qualicum Beach, that it was going to be really crucial not to have this site become a boarded-up building and one that became a deteriorating asset,” SD69 superintendent Rollie Koop told chamber members following a wine-and-hors d’oeuvres reception in the commons’ meeting room.

“From that standpoint, it’s been a success.”

Koop added the rent brought in by the commons now pays for its operation, with a little put aside for deferred maintenance. But the building will eventually need some expensive capital work, he said.

That work will include replacement of the building’s air-exchange system, new roofing and seismic upgrades — those expenses will all be factored into the year-long OCP process the town will embark on next month.

“We need this OCP and long-term vision to … make sure the school board, potentially with other partners, are equipping themselves for the investment required to maintain a building, if this building is maintained,” said Daniel Sailland, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Qualicum Beach. “There are many ‘ifs’. The OCP process is the opportunity to explore those ifs, and it can get prickly.”

During a question-and-answer, one chamber member noted the closure of Qualicum Beach Elementary resulted in part from the school’s need for major upgrades, and asked if those repairs would be subsidized by the district now that it has tenants in the building.

“We know we have a ticking meter, on the air-handling units for sure, and the roof,” Koop said. “These (expenses) don’t go away, but we’re also looking at an asset management plan to look at what we might do.”

That plan, he said, will take into account two other buildings closed by the Board of Trustees in 2014 — the former French Creek Elementary and Parksville Elementary buildings, which do not enjoy the tenancy rate of Qualicum Commons.

“We may have to be in conversation with other organizations about the viability of this place and maintaining it so that it can continue to function in the short and medium term,” Koop said.

“What we don’t want is a boarded-up building which many jurisdictions see.”

Koop noted all of the school district’s licensing agreements in the commons are set up on a short-term basis. Sailland said that is the proper course of action until the OCP process and a dialogue with the community establishes and vision and/or strategy for the commons.

“This process will create space for that dialogue so we’re not wasting taxpayer dollars,” Sailland said.

“They are your dollars at work, and if Rollie has to invest $100,000 in this building and then finds out three years later we’re shutting it down, people will be scratching their heads.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WATCH: Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock pedals into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Volunteer LeMoine doesn’t get locks shaved but still finds a way to raise funds

Oceanside Folk/Roots Club to hold first show Oct. 2 in Qualicum Beach

Community hall to serve as venue for performances

Committee endorses $4.5M Qualicum Beach all-season turf project

Letter of support sought from regional district for grant application

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

Most Read