The Okanagan Skaha School District is in the process of selling off a strip of land next to Queen’s Park Elementary to the owner of neighbouring properties. Photo courtesy Google Street View

School district selling Penticton property

A strip of land next to Queen’s Park Elementary is being sold to a neighbour

The Okanagan Skaha School District says the time is right to sell a strip of property next to Queen’s Park Elementary.

The gravel strip, long used for parking and access to neighbouring businesses and buildings, is owned by the school district, but Superintendent Wendy Hyer said it’s not being used by the school and the rest of the Queen’s Park property won’t be affected.

“All the grass area that is normally playground, that’s still school property. It’s just that little strip in between the grass and the buildings,” said Hyer.

Larry Lund, whose company owns the adjacent property, offered to purchase the land from the school district for $375,000. He said the strip originally belonged to the railway.

“That’s the old railway line, it’s never been used for anything else,” said Lund, explaining there are no plans to develop the area.

“We just wanted to consolidate some of our property down there and it made sense to purchase that land,” said Lund.

One of the motivations, he said, was the of parking for their tenants.

“It will give us some additional parking. That was the main motivator for doing it,” said Lund. “Plus, it’s been sitting there, vacant and unused, ever since the railway left.”

“Because we don’t really have an educational purpose for that space, and he was prepared to offer fair market value, we thought it would probably be in the best interests of the district to do something like that,” said Hyer, who explained the proceeds of the sale, when it is completed, will go into a capital fund with the Ministry of Education.

“I believe it is 25 per cent we can use for something we would like, and the other 75 per cent goes to the ministry and we have to ask them permission to use that money for capital projects.

“It will sit in a fund, that is targeted to our district and we will get to use it down the road for a renovation or something like that.”

The funds from this sale join those from last year’s sale of school district property in Naramata.

“We’ve got a little bit of money there saved up and we are looking to make sure we have a fund there so we can do something down the road,” said Hyer.

That might be for extensions to schools like Uplands and Parkway, which Hyer said are near capacity.

“If those areas continue to grow, we might need the addition of a couple of classrooms somewhere,” said Hyer, adding that it might also go to a long-awaited upgrade in Summerland.

“We’ve had the Summerland gymnasium on our capital project list. That is a project that is dear to many people’s hearts because it is a small outdated gym that is pretty small from a classroom perspective.

“It’s a good little fund to have access to when there is a real need.”

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Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan

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