It’s arguably the most desirable piece of real estate in Revelstoke, and it’s sat vacant for more than five years.
The future of the old Mountain View Elementary site remains unknown, almost six years after the students moved out.
“We have not done anything with it since Dean Strachan left,” said Mike Hooker, the superintendent of the Revelstoke School District, referring to the former city planner who left his post at the end of 2016.
The school district has been moving deliberately slow on the disposal of its old properties, proceeding one at a time. Initially, it wanted to sell off the Big Eddy Elementary site first, followed by Mountain View, and Mount Begbie. Big Eddy was held up by water issues, and is the final stages of being approved for sub-division. The historic Mountain View school building was sold to a developer, and the MBE site was just sold to BC Housing, leaving the rest of the MVE property as the last to go.
It’s been some seven years in the making. In May 2012, before Begbie View Elementary opened, I wrote my first article about the future of the old school sites.
There is interest in the property, confirmed Mass Spataro, the managing broker at Revelstoke Remax. “We’ve had people ask about when these lots would be coming up,” he told me. “I’ve heard of a couple of people that would probably take the whole site.”
Whether or not the site gets sub-divided or is sold as a whole is not known. Five and a half years ago, the school board held an open house asking people their thoughts and the response they got was to divide the bulk of the property into single-family lots, with townhomes along Garden Avenue and some parkland preserved. The school district looked at submitting a sub-division application, but was turned down because the city, as outlined in the Official Community Plan, wanted multi-family development on the property.
I spoke to a few people involved in planning and real estate and heard a mix of ideas that jibed with both the school district’s and the city’s plans. One said it should be divided into 30-foot wide lots, which would encourage smaller homes accessible to young families, while still maintaining the character of the existing neighbourhood. Another said it would be a great spot for single-story townhomes for seniors looking to downgrade to something requiring less maintenance. Another voiced an opinion for mixed-use development with multi-family buildings.
There’s technical complications on the site because of old city streets criss-crossing the property that exist on maps, though not on the ground. One proposal floated by Strachan saw the city and school district trade land, with the city portion going to Community Connections for a new building.
Any development would likely be preceded by a land-swap between the school district and the city.
Hooker said the school district wants to work with the city on re-zoning the site before it puts it up to sale. “There would be more (community) consultation at this point because the consultation that was done is getting long in the tooth,” he said. “We want to ensure what happens to that site is good for the community and good for the school district.”
Marianne Wade, the city’s new director of development services, said she and Ingrid Bron, the director of economic development, want to meet with the school district before talking about the site.
“Myself and Ingrid will be reaching out to Mike from the school board to have a conversation to see where things have been left in their mind,” she said.