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Razing a fuss: Town of Clarenville and NLESD at odds over old primary school demolition

The old primary school building in Clarenville.
The old primary school building in Clarenville. - Jonathan Parsons
CLARENVILLE, N.L. —

The Town of Clarenville has been “spinning its wheels” in efforts to get the old primary school in the community torn down.

According to Clarenville’s chief administrative officer David Harris, the appeal hearing for the demolition order was on April 25. He announced the news at the council meeting May 14.

He says the appeal process has been postponed due to a request by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD).

The appeal was initially issued in October of last year after Clarenville’s town council issued a demolition order on the old primary school building, which has been vacant for many years.

The town, considering it to be an eyesore in the community, has been trying to get the building torn down for eight years now.

Mayor Frazer Russell called the news of another delay “regrettable,” at the meeting.

“If that were a business or a private individual that had a structure like that, we would be all over them and it would come down in a much shorter period of time,” said Russell.

The process has been a complicated one because the school board owns the building, while the United Church owns the land. They want to sell the property, and don’t want the building torn down.

According to the NLESD, title to the former Clarenville Primary School property is vested in the NL Conference of the United Church of Canada.

“However, under the provisions of s. 84 of the Schools Act, 1997, the building remained under the control of the English School Board, as it was our predecessor board which originally signed the Articles of Integration to which s. 84 refers,” said the NLESD in a written statement to The Packet. “This relates, of course, to the end of denominational education in Newfoundland and Labrador more than 20 years ago.”

The NLESD says the church and school board have been working on a mutually satisfactory agreement, allowing for the sale of the property. The two groups have recently come to an agreement, which will allow them to issue a tender for the sale of the property.

They say the appeal is because the board feels “the building still has structural value and can be repurposed by a potential buyer,” achieving a maximum price in the sale.

Deputy Mayor Heber Smith disagrees with the claim the building can be used again. He says they had a party interested in the land in recent years, but anyone who would buy it in the future would surely tear it down anyway.

“The building is that far gone they’re going to have to knock it down,” he said. “So for us to lift the demolition order, the buyer could leave it there for years and years again.”

In addition to any worries about the structure, there has been substantial graffiti on the exterior walls over the years.

However, it was noted at the meeting the NLESD covered much of the graffiti on the building in early May.

Going forward, the next sitting of the appeal board is in late August or early September.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons
 

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