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More input sought before demolition of Mackenzie Elementary School

Tim Bennett is seeking re-election to the School District Board of Education October 20.
School Board Chair Tim Bennett

School District 57 has committed to more consultation with Mackenzie community members regarding the proposed demolition of Mackenzie Elementary School.

“I don’t have any information as to what that is going to look like yet,” Board Chair Tim Bennett told those in attendance at a public meeting at the Mackenzie Recreation Centre Friday. “That’s going to be a conversation that the board is going to have.”

During the two-hour meetings residents asked questions about the condition of Mackenzie Elementary School and its potential demolition. Rather than demolition, a desire to see the building – or parts of it – retained for future use in the community was expressed by some. General support for retaining public use of existing playground structures was also voiced.

The 3,916.7-square-metre facility and the 3.2-hectare parcel of land on which it sits is owned by School District 57.

Mackenzie Elementary School opened in 1966 and closed in 2010. The school’s operating capacity was 325 students. A facility condition report performed for the Ministry of Education in 2015 rated the facility as being at end of life (generally 40 to 50 years).

Five years ago, the cost of upgrading the school to the standards of the day was estimated at almost $5 million.

School District 57 staff is proposing the demolition of the school. Currently, the Ministry of Education has funding available to cover a portion of the cost, with the remaining balance being the school district’s responsibility.

The project would be put out to public tender. The estimated timeframe for demolition once the contract has been awarded would be two to three months.

Following the April 12 meeting, School district representatives met with Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson, chief administrative officer Dean McKinley, and other officials. An agreement was reached to keep the lines of communication open regarding the future of Mackenzie Elementary School.

Responsibility for the final decision regarding future plans for Mackenzie Elementary School rests with the school board.

Mackenzie’s Morfee Elementary School serves students from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Students in Grades 7 through 12 attend Mackenzie Secondary School. The Grade 7s are part of a middle years program at the high school.

Along with Bennett, School District No. 57 (Prince George) was represented at Friday’s meeting by trustee and Mackenzie resident Shuirose Valimohamed, and by trustees Betty Bekkering, Trent Derrick and Ron Polillo. Other school district personnel in attendance were assistant superintendent Cindy Heitman – whose area of responsibility includes Mackenzie – superintendent of schools Marilyn Marquis-Forster, secretary-treasurer Darleen Patterson, general manager of operations Brett Apolczer, general manager of capital projects Nino Maletta and executive assistant to the secretary-treasurer’s office Diane Nygaard.

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