City council will be weighing its options to consider costs in preserving King George V School. Councillor Don Basserman said Tuesday that although council had embraced in principal Monday night the idea of preserving it as a heritage building (the original structure was built in 1922 though new portions have been added over the years), costs must be considered.
The City will have to examine, he said, how much is too much to spend.
The estimated $2.35 million restoration cost of the old building may be out-of-reach, said Basserman. “A complete, full-fledged restoration of the old section costs $2.3 million. If it is designated a heritage building, we may be able to get other funding to help with the restoration.”
Council voted Monday to work with the school district, he said. “We need to meet with the school board as soon as possible to discuss options. We need to decide who are the players. We meet with them anyway once or twice a year, but we need to meet on this specifically. If there is no hope of getting the funding we need, or leveraging funding – by that I mean putting up money to demonstrate our commitment and having those funds matched – then maybe we should consider celebrating and preserving the building in another form in the new Duchess Park School.”
Basserman said he was willing to “set aside a day” when he travels to Ottawa in his role with Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) to discuss the funding needs. He also suggested a possible solution might be to preserve a distinctive part of the old King George V school that could be incorporated into the design of the new Duchess Park Secondary School. “Maybe something like KGV’s entrance way could be rebuilt using new materials. Or just the facade could be preserved.” Alternately, he said, such things as models and pictures of the historic school could be on display at the new one.
Basserman was a school teacher at KGV in 1967.
“That was my first school after coming to Prince George,” he said. “And I was principal there for three years in the late 1990’s toward the end of my teaching career. So I have a real attachment to the facility. But I’m also a practical person and if we are to preserve it, we have to think about the best way to do that. And at what cost.”
Mayor Colin Kinsley agreed with Basserman that money is at the heart of the issue in preserving the old King George V building. “It’s just a matter of money,” he said.