Demolition of the former Meadows Community Centre building is still ongoing while the Sea to Sky School District and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) continue negotiations on a short-term lease for the adjacent playing fields.
Rick Hume, director of facilities for the school district, said dismantling of the old Pemberton school building is expected to be finished by mid-August and that contractors are doing a good job to meet the project’s mandate.
“They’re salvaging things, they’ve got the old building material up for sale,” said Hume. “They want to do a good, sustainable job and that’s what we were looking for. It’s taken a little longer than we expected but it’s going well.”
The building was tendered for demolition after the SLRD ended a lease agreement with the school district, as the structure had increasing safety concerns and skyrocketing maintenance costs. As the structure is being torn down, however, the playing fields on the property have been inaccessible.
SLRD Chief Administrative Officer Lynda Flynn said she expects a new lease for use of those fields to be in place by the time demolition is complete.
“That’s what we’re working towards,” said Flynn.
The long-term future of the property is still up in the air, however. The SLRD board saw a draft lease for the playing fields, endorsed by PVUS, during its meeting last week in Pemberton and gave approval for negotiations to continue. The draft lease had a term that begins as soon as the building is entirely removed and runs to the end of October 2013.
Flynn said Monday (July 30) that the SLRD had returned the lease to the school district with “suggestions.” The previous lease between the two bodies was on a month-to-month basis, but the SLRD wants to make $100,000 worth of improvements to the fields and is looking for a longer-term lease.
“That’s part of the reason that we want the longer lease. If we’re going to make a significant commitment of funds, then we want a longer time frame – three to five years – to recover our commitment,” said Flynn.
In the meantime, the school board will be undertaking a future use assessment for the property that won’t be finished for at least several months. The SLRD won’t go ahead with the improvements – which would include removal of the gravel track, upgrades to the existing ball diamonds, landscaping and irrigation – without more certainty about its tenancy.
Sturdy targets ‘skeeters
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy’s motion to look at mosquito control in the region was well-received at the board table last week in response to the valley being inundated with the blood-sucking insects this summer.
Sturdy said it’s been a “particularly problematic year” for mosquitoes around Pemberton and noted that the Fraser Valley and Thompson-Nicola regional districts are among others in B.C. that have mitigation plans in place.
“Given the impacts it has on tourism, on visitors and, not the least of which, on our residents being able to step outside, I think it would be worthwhile for us as a region to look at what options there are for a mosquito-control program and see if it’s worth initiating,” Sturdy said to the board.
Area C director Susie Gimse agreed that it’s been a bug-filled summer, stating: “This year is probably the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
Staff is expected to compile a report on the issue for the board later this year.