Photo: Sacred Heart Public School may be saved depending on various parties coming together to strategize and plan. Photo by Rosalind Russell
By Rosalind Russell – A move is underway to save AB Ellis Public School in Espanola from demolition.
Save AB Ellis committee member and engineer, Gary Clackett, believes the school can be retrofitted for apartments and other amenities instead of being demolished to make way for a parking lot.
He says they met with representatives of the Rainbow District School Board and found out two options; one calling for the wrecking ball, the other to maintain the building with parking arranged around it, however only option one was presented to the town.
Both parties have to now go back to the town with option two and both have to agree to change the bylaw agreement to save the 100-year-old building.
It would be the first of many steps needed to declare the building surplus and save it from destruction.
If both parties agree and the bylaw is rescinded, the land the building sits on has to be severed from the property that abuts the Bourcier Funeral Home to be able to declare the school surplus.
Clackett says when school buildings are declared surplus, they can be purchased by, in this case, the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board. For example, the Algoma district DSSAB purchased a school building and will be retrofitting it for housing units this year. If DSAB does not move on the building, then, and only then, can it be sold publicly.
There is a shortage of housing in Espanola, especially senior housing and market value rental units.
Clackett presented plans to the committee last summer, which shows that up to 50 units could be built into the building including a mix of market value and subsidized units.
The committee is now gathering more information from DSSAB and LAMBAC.
The school currently is housing the students and staff of Sacred Heart School, until the new double school is completed. The completion is slated for September 2020.