Closure of the Creston Education Centre (CEC) in 2017 is a strong likelihood, but local Regional District of Central Kootenay directors are unhappy at the lack of a response to their request for information from School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake).
“The school district has not responded to any requests for information,” Area A director Garry Jackman said at the May 12 Creston Valley Services Committee meeting.
Jackman, who has been working with other community representatives, including Valley Community Services executive director Serena Naeve, said it is vital to get information about both the building and grounds. Naeve’s organization runs a number of preschool programs in the CEC (the former South Creston Elementary School).
“This is not a short process if we want to keep the current services going the way the community wants,” Jackman said.
The CEC is one of six facilities being considered for closure by Kootenay Lake school district trustees. The board will vote on a final decision July 5.
Area B director Tanya Wall said there might be additional uses for the grounds.
“There has been interest expressed about it as possible site for a migrant workers camp,” she said.
Wall has been working with a group that includes local fruit growers to establish a migrant workers camp, but a suitable location has yet to be found.
Jackman said in addition to the many existing preschool services in the CEC, other community users have expressed interest, including the Creston and District Community Complex.
“We do rent space in other schools gyms,” CDCC manager Randy Feduik said. “There is no joint use agreement with the school district.”
He said the CEC could be suitable for recreation programs.
“The minister of education (Mike Bernier, who visited Creston in April) says we couldn’t buy it if there was school activity going on in the building, but he is willing to work with us if the building is closed,” Area C director Larry Binks said. “The building and grounds could be bought by an existing group or a new group, and the RDCK could rent a portion of the facilities.”
“What do we have to get from the school district?” Wall asked. “We don’t know what their intentions are and we have to know before we can do anything.
“We need to get the facility assessed and start to work with the organizations in the community. And we need to talk to School District No. 8. We are going to run out of time.”
Wall and Binks, along with Mayor Ron Toyota, agreed to have Jackman write another letter (a previous letter was dated April 12) to the school district requesting information once again, and to request that it appoint representatives to a committee so that planning for the CEC’s future can get underway.