Ashcroft HUB hoping to turn AES into centre for local user groups

A group of Ashcroft residents is working on a lease agreement with the school district for the recently abandoned elementary school.

Ashcroft HUB is hoping that the old adage, “when one door closes, another opens,” will ring true for Ashcroft Elementary School. They are hoping to turn the building into a multi-purpose centre for community user groups.

Ashcroft Council approved a $500 grant for them at the Aug. 24 meeting, even though they had already spent $8,045 of their $8,000 budget for community grants.

Coun. Al Mertens asked Council “to  find a way of accepting the request for $500 even though we’re overbudget. I believe believe they’re a valuable asset.”

Mayor Jack Jeyes noted that going overbudget wasn’t a good message to send out to the public, “but I think it’s important that this group be given every option to succeed.”

Mertens noted that Coun. Doreen Lambert would not be attending the annual UBCM conference this year even through there was money in the budget to do so, implying that the money could be taken from surplus funds there.

“Anyone who’s seen Clinton Elementary ‘ugly-ing’ itself away up there knows we have to act fast,” said Coun. Barbara Roden. “It will be a benefit young and old.”

HUB’s president, Juanita Little, says the idea came up at a community forum last April, hosted by the Village of Ashcroft. After that, a group of residents started looking into repurposing the building to avoid a derelict building and to provide services for the community.

“Closed schools  devalue the neighbourhood and are targets for vandalism,” she told a committee of the whole meeting of Ashcroft Council on Aug. 24. “By repurposing AES immediately, the community can avoid the pitfalls of an abandoned building.”

The HUB’s mandate is to keep the doors of the building open, to provide accessible, affordable space for clubs, groups and small entrepreneurs and support programming or events that build social connectedness through opportunities in wellness, recreation and the arts.

Other schools have done this, Little said, in Kamloops, Clearwater, Yale, Princeton and Spences Bridge.

The group has already met with school district and has a verbal agreement to lease the building. They would be responsible for heating and electricity costs as well as snow removal. The district would maintain the grounds. If they wanted to keep the playground, they would need to carry extra liability insurance.

Little said the group will work in stages to make the entire building available to the community as they work with the school district to develop the terms of the lease. The first stage (Sept. 2015-Dec. 2016) is to make the gym available for the current user groups who will be displaced come September.

Stage 2 (Jan.-Aug. 2016) will be to open up the use of front office spaces and rooms that can be most efficiently heated in the main hall to user groups, and work on the front facade and entrance area.

Stage 3 (Sept. 2016-Aug. 2017) will be to open up the main hallway of classrooms and library space, and look into facility upgrades.

Stage 4 (Sept. 2017-Aug. 2018) will be to open up other areas as needed while enhancing the outside grounds.

Little said the group was seeking a partnership with the Village.

“We would like the Village to act as a supporting partner in our grant applications and provide letters of support,” she said.

She suggested an in kind donation from the Village of snow removal from parking lot. In return, she sid, the Village could use the grounds to dump excess snow from around town.

She said the $500 grant from the Village would help with start up costs to get going before it’s boarded up.

“I think the biggest hurdle is the $30,000 per year operating cost,”  Gloria Mertens commented from the public. She suggested the group can look at two models of funding: try renting out space to cover costs, or persuade the Village to add a small parcel tax to tax notices that would be collected and forwarded to the group.

“It’s important to keep that $5 million asset in our community,” she said.

Coun. Doreen Lambert said she’d heard that the roof was in bad shape.

Little said they were aware of the building’s problems as outlined in a recent facilities report. She said through grants and fundraising, the group would hopefully find the money to repair it.

HUB member Susan McLean said the HVAC, as well, was cited for eventual replacement although it is still functioning.

Little said the group is currently developing the criteria of who they would like to rent the space out to.

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read