Klaus Kuhn is voicing his support for a proposal to purchase and redevelop the old Yount School site.
The director for Area I (Youbou/Meade Creek) will be going before the Cowichan Valley Regional District board of directors to ask for its support in principle for the Youbou Innovation and Development Association, which wants to buy the long-vacant property and repurpose it for use by the community and visitors.
“I’m in support of whatever possibility there is to develop the school and do something with the premises,” Kuhn said. “There have been talks in the past and efforts in the past to get something going, and it didn’t happen. If this group can pull this off, and contribute to the economy and well-being of the community, that would be great.”
The new proposal includes new uses to align with Youbou’s emergence as a gateway to recreation opportunities like local and West Coast trails and kite-surfing at Nitinat. Local architect Darryl Jones has drawn up plans for a new facility that would allow overnight stays, with a cafe and other services. It could also include a gymnasium and possible climbing wall.
The rest of the property would become affordable housing under the group’s proposal.
The school was upgraded shortly before it closed in 2013, Kuhn pointed out.
“It’s a crying shame that whole property has been sitting there for years now. It’s really unfortunate.”
While the Cowichan Valley School District has started the process to dispose of the property, board chair Candace Spilsbury cautions that it’s still just in its initial stages and no committments have been made.
“While the board is actively in the disposal process for several school district sites, including Yount, the real estate process is just beginning. The disposal process is set out by the Ministry of Education and it directs how a school district can sell the property or enter into a long-term lease for it. Some school sites have been approved for disposal and the Board recently issued an Expression of Interest for real estate services. The successful proponent in this process will help ensure the Board has all the information required to make a decision on the disposal of School District properties. It is crucial to remember that this process is ongoing and none of our school district properties, including Yount School, have been advertised for sale,” she said.
Spilsbury also cautioned that the district will need to receive “fair compensation” for the property.
“These funds allow us to do things like plan for growth in the district through the purchase of new school sites, enhance existing buildings to better serve our learners, and as populations grow, to build new schools. The competitive real estate process benefits all of our communities and ensures we can serve our learners for years to come. Providing the spaces and opportunities for our learners to succeed is core to the District’s overall well-being,” she said.
“As we go through this process, it is important that we do so with patience and understanding. It is our hope that any school site sale will be a benefit to our learners as well as to the whole community.”