The process of converting the old A.B. Greenwell school into a public works yard for the Town of Lake Cowichan has hit an unforeseen snag.
“We ran into a brick wall,” confirmed Lake Cowichan chief administrative officer Joe Fernandez.
Greenwell was originally opened in 1969. In February of 2007, the school was closed due to a mould infestation and students and staff were moved into the vacant Yount school in Youbou which was then closed in June of 2006. The old Greenwell school was formally closed by bylaw on May 15, 2013 because it was determined to be surplus to needs as the district underwent a big reorganization.
In 2015 the Town of Lake Cowichan eyed the site for a new public works yard.
School District 79 spokesperson Mike Russell explained the district’s side of the story:
“We are still currently working through the process to see if a transfer to the Town can happen,” Russell said. “As the school sits on Crown land it’s a more involved process to make a potential transfer work.”
Fernandez explained further what the delay in the process was on the Town’s end.
“What happened is the Agriculture Land Commission turned down our application to have it taken out of the ALR,” he said.
Not too many people were aware the school was on the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“It was a surprise to us too,” Fernandez said. “So we applied to take it out because we wanted to get it into our hands and they said ‘no’ and we are appealing that decision.”
Since its closure, the building, located at the east side of the Hundred Houses neighbourhood, has sat vacant and become a blank canvass for taggers.
“This graffiti trap Greenwell school in Lake Cowichan is an eyesore, it needs to be torn down,” said one reader email.
Russell said he’d notify SD79’s operations staff of the graffiti.