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Fruitvale affordable housing project readies to break ground

Beaver Valley Middle School closed in 2003, has remained vacant ever since
Kootenay Savings Credit Union (KSCU) has committed $10,000 towards the development of affordable housing units on the site of the former Beaver Valley Middle School. L-R: Mark McLoughlin, KSCU chief executive officer; Jan Morton, president, Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society; Prab Lashar, Fruitvale chief administrative officer; Steve Morissette, Fruitvale mayor. Photo: Submitted

With the demand for affordable housing higher than ever, Kootenay Savings Credit Union has generously committed $10,000 towards the development of affordable housing units on the site of the former Beaver Valley Middle School, located in Fruitvale.

The Fruitvale Affordable Housing Project is a partnership between the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society (Society) and the Village of Fruitvale.

The new build will offer 31 units of varied affordable housing with the goal of construction being completed in early 2025.

“Until recently, the project was projected to be fully funded by BC Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and Columbia Basin Trust,” the Society said. “However, with construction costs and interest rates rising, additional funding was required to make the project a reality, and the local credit union didn’t hesitate to step-up and offer their support.”

Immediately adjacent the housing, the village is also constructing a new community childcare centre.

The middle school property was purchased by the village in two separate acquisitions; the first through a court-ordered sale in 2018 and the second parcel for $149,000 the following year.

The village now owns the full block — or 3.7-hectares of land — between Columbia Gardens Road and Green Road. The old school will remain standing as new construction goes up nearer Columbia Gardens Road and on the school’s old parking lot.

For a timeline on the affordable housing complex and child care centre builds, the Trail Times contacted Mayor Steve Morissette.

“’Phase one’ is the piece of property adjoining Columbia Gardens Road in front of the old school and does not require demolition of the school,” he clarified. “The affordable housing building and the child care centre are separate projects, side by side, on ‘Phase one’ on the former middle school property.”

The 37-seat child care centre — 12 infant-toddler seats and 25 toddler to kindergarten seats — will be built alongside Columbia Gardens Road, and is planned to be the first to break ground this spring.

“The three storey affordable housing complex will be built behind it closer to the old school but still on the parking lot in front of the school,” Morissette explained. “The affordable housing complex is tentatively scheduled to break ground in the early fall this year.”

Read more: Fruitvale developing plan for middle school property

Read more: Fruitvale to lease middle school land to affordable housing society

Read more: Beaver Valley families to benefit from new child care spaces

Former Beaver Valley Middle School. Photo: Times file

History of Beaver Valley Middle School

By the late 1960’s the old Fruitvale School on Laurie Street and the new elementary school on Columbia Gardens Road were filled to capacity. A new junior high school was built further along Columbia Gardens Road, and in October 1970, Principal Lloyd Wilkinson and staff supervised pupils from grades 8 through 10 as they carried their desks down the street to the new school.

In 1967, two grade 7 classes moved into the school, leaving one grade 7 class at Fruitvale Elementary. Subsequent years saw the grade configuration and the school’s name change numerous times as grade 7 pupils from Montrose Elementary were added and in 1989, grade 6 children were included in the school. While the school’s name officially changed to Valley Middle School for the 1993-94 school year, the final name of Beaver Valley Middle School was adopted in 1994. In June 2003, pupils in grades 6 through 8 saw Beaver Valley Middle School empty and close. Grades 6 and 7 pupils rejoined Fruitvale Elementary.

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Sheri Regnier

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