School site plans put on the table

Twelve single family lots proposed by North Cowichan for old elementary land

The community got to have a look at options for the old Chemainus Elementary School site, east of Chemainus Secondary School, on Tuesday, May 31.

The 3.8 acre parcel, which reverted to the Municipality of North Cowichan from School District 79 in 2013, sits at the foots of Severne, Arbutus and Lang streets, and abuts back yard fences of many homes in the neighbourhood.

It has not been used for school purposes for 15 years, and has been boarded up for much of that time.

North Cowichan’s Chief Administrative Officer Dave Devana told the Chronicle that the municipality hopes to have approval for development of the property before January, 2017, when the school building is scheduled for demolition.

The three options on the tables in the Chemainus Secondary School gymnasium all showed 12 single family lots, a dog park, and a food forest. The new Chemainus skate park has already been opened on the site.

The main difference between the site plans was the proposed street plan. Option one, which the municipality favours, would connect Elliott, Severne and Lang streets allowing access into the neighbourhood from both Elliott and Pine streets.

Option Two would cluster development around cul-de-sacs at the foot of Severn Street, from the east and Elliott from the west, with a dog park and the existing skate park sandwiched between the houses.

Option Three places the development along Elliott and Severne, but would not connect to Lang.

One of the features of all the proposals is a ‘food park’, which would have food bearing plants that could be harvested by anyone in the community, and which would be sustained using ‘permaculture’ techniques.

When a request for proposals is put out for demolition of the old elementary school North Cowichan will ask for both green and conventional options, Devana said, and will select the green option if it is economically feasible.