The School District 69 (Qualicum) board of education voted to begin the process of disposing of an unused property in Meadowood during its regular December meeting at the school board office in Parksville.
Despite modest gains in enrolment over the past two years, district staff believes the location will not be needed for the construction of a new school in the foreseeable future.
The motion approved this month does not direct staff to dispose of the property directly, secretary-treasurer Ron Amos told the board, but rather seeks the Ministry of Education’s approval for disposal.
“We have to, number one, declare it as surplus for educational use,” Amos said. “Two, we have to have public notice and public process. Once that’s done we go forward to the ministry indicating what we’ve done to date and reason why we’re seeking to dispose of it. At this juncture it’s really just due process.”
The property is located at the corner of Meadowood Way and Galvin Place, adjacent to Meadowood Community Park.
The board actually began the process of disposing of the land in October, when it approved a 30-day public consultation. Throughout November, Amos said, the school district received a number of written comments suggesting alternate uses for the site, including creating sports fields or a public recreation area; offering it for sale to the Regional District of Nanaimo; or adding it to the community park.
“If the minister gives approval to dispose of the property, you’re still not handcuffed to do anything at that point,” said Amos, who added that it could take 6-8 weeks for the board to hear back on the ministry’s decision. “It will be brought back to the board and it will still be the board’s discretion whether we want to act on it.”
Trustee Julie Austin asked whether the property was costing the school district anything while sitting vacant. Amos said the only cost outlay is part of the district’s liability insurance on all its properties.
“We are certainly liable,” he said.
Board chair Eve Flynn noted the property is leased by the Meadowood Residents’ Association for events. The land’s possible dollar value was not mentioned by board or staff at the meeting.