Tuesday's announcement the Steveston Secondary school site had finally been sold for just over $41 million will act like a bargaining chip for the establishment of some new, local schools.
That's according to Richmond Board of Education chair Donna Sargent who said she was "ecstatic" the sale to Polygon Pacific Homes Limited had finally been completed six years after the site on No. 2 Road had been closed and a replacement school — Steveston-
London — had taken its place when it opened its doors in 2007.
Sargent said the district is limited to using the proceeds of the sale — $41,125,000 for the 13 acre parcel, of which eight acres sold and five acres allocated to the city for park use —strictly for capital projects.
And two items topping the district's five-year capital plan that was just submitted to the ministry of education include new elementary schools for the city centre and Hamilton area on the eastern end of Lulu Island.
Densification of the city's core and an expected doubling of enrolment in Hamilton are driving the needs for new schools.
Sargent said that while the province is still be responsible for providing funding for new schools, there is an increasing trend for districts to "bring something to the table" when discussions start.
"There seems to be a real shift," Sargent said, adding "We'll still be advocating for the ministry to provide for the facility that we need."
The Steveston school sale does represent a lot of money, "But it will not pay for all the needs that we have," Sargent said.
"It's very exciting we could put together the agreement. Now we have funds for the school district."
But more than just the infusion of funds is the progress the sale means for the community.
"It was a piece of land that people either walked or drove by every day, and it had become so dilapidated," Sargent said. "That's not really the memory of what happened in that school for 50 years."
© Copyright 2013