Community fights for historic school

Photo: 104 year old Sexsmith Elementary on January 27, 2016.

Community members want to preserve the Sexsmith Elementary School building that is facing demolition.

The demolition of the 104 year old school is scheduled to happen by March 31 and will be converted to grass fields for school and community use.

A Facebook group “South Vancouver Changes” was arguing against the demolition and now wants a tribute of some kind on the land.

Although it’s difficult to confirm whether all heritage buildings deserve preservation, Kathryn Morrow, communications manager of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation said “it is always reasonable for communities to fight for what is important to them.”

“While heritage projects can be more expensive on paper there is also significant value in retaining irreplaceable historic building materials along with the cultural value significant buildings represent to the community,” said Morrow.

Janet Fraser, vice chair of the Vancouver School Board, thinks it would be a great idea to acknowledge the school.

“The school board is aware that heritage is important in the city but we just don’t always have the mechanism to preserve all our heritage schools,” Fraser said.

Alternative proposals for the building were looked at but were not successful, as renovating for safety was too expensive.

“The challenge is that you have an old building that’s not earthquake safe. When looking at how to provide a safe school it was cheaper to buy a new school than to renovate the old one,” Fraser said.

Not all community members oppose the demolition

Ron Todman, a resident of South Vancouver who attended Sexsmith in the 70s has fond memories of playing sports and attending community activities in the field but said that preserving the school might not be worth the price.

Todman thinks the plan to convert it to grass fields is a good idea.

Todman, however, agrees acknowledging the school would be a good idea. “Maybe a picture of the old school in the new one or a little plaque,” he said.

Before the demolition of Sexsmith Elementary, the school board staff will check for any heritage artifacts to save.

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