Mulgrave seeks help for school demolition costs

Still unknown if newer section could be salvaged

By Helen Murphy    

MULGRAVE – Already in a tight spot financially, the Town of Mulgrave could soon be saddled with a major bill for the demolition of the Mulgrave Education Centre.

The town's school is closing in July 2018. By law the town has no choice but to take ownership of the surplus building. But the cost of the demolishing the structure would be prohibitive for the cash-strapped municipality. So at last week's monthly council meeting, on Feb. 20, council agreed to send a letter to the premier, with copies to MLAs Lloyd Hines and Derek Mombourquette, and the Union of NS Municipalities, asking for help.

Council approved a motion, shared in the letter to the premier, asking the UNSM to engage in discussions with the relevant government departments "to set in place a process wherein when a surplus educational structure and related property has been or will be turned over to a municipal unit that there will be sufficient funding to assist in the potential future re-development or demolition of said building and related property, including but not limited to environmental remediation costs."

The old part of the school, with 27,000sf, dates back to the 1950s. In 1988 the school board decided to expand the facility into a centre where meetings and special events could take place. Construction on a 19,000sf addition was completed in 1991.

"That new section is in good shape," Mulgrave CAO Jim Davis told The Journal. "The old section is probably ready to come down, unless someone has another use for it."

The big question, said Davis, is whether the newer section can be salvaged separate from the old school and re-purposed.

"As it stands now we are responsible for taking over the whole thing and demolishing both parts if we don't have another use for it."

Davis said it's a frustrating situation, in part because the addition was constructed without any approval from the town, but if it must be demolished, the town has to pay for it.

"If the demolition costs come in at $400,000, we have to cover that," he said. "That is unfair."

He noted that even with the old school, it took in students from well outside the town limits, including areas like Sand Point. "But if it has to be demolished, it's the Town of Mulgrave that has to pay for that."