District to liquidate surplus properties

School District 72, during Phase Two of their newly-adopted 10-year Facility Plan, will look at selling off some property.

The district currently has surplus property in the form of the old Evergreen Elementary, on Stuart Island, at Rock Bay and on McPhedran Street.

“Given declining enrolment, the amount of surplus space in our existing schools, and present development plans by the City of Campbell River, it is highly unlikely that these sites would be required by the School District within the next 20 years,” reads the recommendation in the Facility Plan.

“As such, there could be an opportunity, through the sale of some or all of these properties, to free some funds that could be directed towards the maintenance and betterment of our existing facilities.”

Those properties, once it is determined that they will go up for sale, will first need to be considered for purchase by provincial organizations, First Nations, local government and community organizations at fair market value before being put on the open market.

“What would be a reasonable expectation of how much of that money we could actually retain (upon the sale of a property), asked Trustee Joyce McMann, “given that the Ministry (of Education) would get to take some of that?”

That’s where it gets complicated, said Sectretary Treasurer Kevin Patrick. Patrick informed the board that a detailed history would have to be determined for each property in order to know what the school district would be entitled to in the event of a sale.

“If the Crown provided it, the school district is required, upon sale or disposal, to provide 75 per cent to the Ministry of Education,” Patrick told the board.

The district can then ask for approval to access those funds in the future, but there’s no guarantee they won’t just be recovered by the Ministry, never to be seen again by SD72.

If there’s a “Crown Reverter Clause,” on the ownership of a property that was given to the district – meaning the property was given to the district contingent on it being operating as a school facility, which is the case with many of the district’s rural properties – it would be returned to the Crown with no financial compensation to the district.

If the school district bought or attained the property themselves, 100 per cent of the sale of that property would go back into the school district coffers.

The various properties in question have been acquired through a variety of those options, so a detailed analysis of each property’s history would need to be determined before the question of “what does the school district get?” can be answered.

The process of performing that analysis will begin during Phase Two of the Facility Plan – which begins next September – now that the board has approved the plan.