A 93-year-old former elementary school in South Slocan will soon only be a memory.
The RDCK-owned building was originally scheduled for demolition in 2021 but the costs associated with the project were unfeasible at the time.
The demolition is set to begin before the end of the month, and Joe Chirico, general manager of community services with the RDCK, says it should take about a month to complete.
The building was built in 1929 and operated as a school until 1977. The RDCK purchased it in 1987 and it has seen a variety of tenants. However, the community has never been taxed for its operations and Chirico says demolishing it ensures it doesn’t become a tax burden in the future.
To complete the demolition, the RDCK has hired Hydraclean Disaster Restoration, a company with experience in handling and disposing of hazardous materials.
Chirico said whether the building was upgraded or demolished, hazardous materials were inevitably going to be present due to the age of the building.
“Whether it be asbestos or lead paint or other types of material that we wouldn’t use in construction anymore, those are most often always present in these old buildings and the company we hired is aware of those and will make sure that they are contained and disposed of correctly.”
To help offset some of the costs of the demolition the RDCK proposed a plan last year to build a community structure on the site with the hope of securing grants and funding to see both projects through.
Chirico says the community shelter plans are still in the works, but the demolition could not wait any longer.
“What became very apparent was that the demolition itself was taking on a life of its own and it was complicating the movement towards the redevelopment of that site,” he said.
“By bringing the building down, we haven’t lost the long-term goal of building a shelter on it. It’s just that we’ll now be able to focus our efforts on what we’re going to do with that property after.”
Once the schoolhouse is demolished, Chirico says the district will resume consultation with the community to move forward with plans for the community space.
Both projects combined have a $900,000 price tag. Chirico says the $150,000 allocated for the demolition has not changed, although the RDCK did award the project to Hydraclean slightly under budget.
The RDCK secured funding for the demolition through the provincial Growing Communities Fund.
Crews will begin identifying and clearing out any hazardous material in the coming weeks before tearing down the structure.