After years of vacancy, graffiti, and speculation, the fate of the old Crofton Elementary school has finally been determined.
With the help of $650,000 in demolition funding from the provincial government, the old school building is coming down.
The goal is to have the removal project complete by March 31, 2020.
Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley and SD79 board chair Candace Spilsbury were on hand at the school Friday amidst a hailstorm — complete with thunder and lightning — to announce the funding.
“After years of inaction we’re finally going to bring the funds necessary to support this community in improving its condition and I’m pretty happy about that,” Routley said. “It’s a small item for government but it’s so important for the community. These are the ones that really make a big difference for me personally.”
It’s been 10 years since the final students finished their time at the old Crofton Elementary. That school shut its doors for good in March of 2009 when the new Crofton Elementary on York Avenue opened.
“The old school here is unusable and has become a safety hazard for many people in the community,” Routley said. “The people in this community deserve better and I hope they’re going to be getting it.”
Since its closure, the building has been a haven for mischief.
When School District 79 learned in 2017 that the potential was there to demolish the building they set to work officially closing the building.
“We came together as a board and a community and a government to try to do something with this building,” Spilsbury said. “We have heard concerns for a long time that there was arson, graffiti, long grass, people living here at one point, climbing the roof… all of those concerns came up.”
In April 2019 it was clarified that SD79 owns the site — there had been a legal opinion commissioned on the site title as North Cowichan, the Crown and the school district had all contributed pieces to the original 1948 school site.
That put SDS79’s school board in charge of finally deciding what to do with the old school. The board queried the public in May about possible demolition and on Sept. 27 funding to do just what was announced.
The school board has not yet decided what to do with the property.