Bob Clarke of Coast Realty Group takes works to remove a coat hanger from one of the old classrooms inside the former Campbellton school.

In demolition, old school teaches three Rs

Pieces of the old Campbellton school will help provide needy families with new homes

Pieces of the old Campbellton school will help provide needy families with new homes.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers, along with Coast Realty staff, have been salvaging what they can from the old, abandoned building. The recovered items will be sold, with the proceeds going towards construction materials for new homes.

“We do these salvage operations for two reasons – it keeps materials from entering the landfill and we raise funds for our mission, to build homes for people who need them,” said Ken Miller of Habitat for Humanity Campbell River.

Coast Realty Group, who works for the new owner of the old building, contacted Habitat for Humanity to give permission to take what they can from inside the facility.

Miller and his crew have been dismantling parts of the school for about a month now and figure they’ll be working for about another week more.

Volunteer Terri Chalaturnyk, from Coast Realty Group, found not only precious recyclables but a keepsake of sorts.

Behind a cabinet was a dusty piece of ripped, orange construction paper with a note written by two students on May 23,1968. It reads: “Campbellton is the best school by far. We went to this school.”

Volunteers have also pulled out blackboards, coat hooks, breaker panels, basketball netting and hoops, a stage in the gymnasium and tons of plywood – some pieces up to 10 feet long.

The material is then turned over to the ReStore on Willow Street, which sells the items for 50 to 70 per cent off retail prices. The proceeds then go towards Habitat for Humanity’s building program which provides housing for low income families.

Miller, who manages the local ReStore, said de-construction and salvage operations have been ongoing in Courtenay for the past three years, and would like to see the program get going in Campbell River. So far, Habitat for Humanity crews have salvaged parts from an old home on Racepoint Drive and from a mini-storage in Campbellton.

“We hope to do more of this, we’re hoping to take down more houses – and we’ll take it down completely,” Miller said. “We’d love to have more people donate materials and homeowners are eligible for a tax receipt for all materials we’re able to sell.”

And demand for the materials is huge.

“The shelf-life of the wood is about a few minutes once I get it to the store,” Miller said. “I’ll have about 15 people a week come by and ask ‘when can I get plywood?’ I have the clientele that want the material, so if there’s people who have the material to fill that bill, it’s great.”

Habitat for Humanity has so far been able to house two families in Campbell River. The society built a duplex on Maple Street in 2009 and it hopes to build more.

Miller said the group hopes to see a fall start, but housing all hinges on whether there’s land available that the city is willing to part with.

The materials taken from Campbellton School, which was sold by School District 72 to E&D Properties Ltd. in late June, will go to the Campbell River ReStore but will go towards housing projects in both the Comox Valley and Campbell River.