With nowhere to go in the immediate future, the existing home for the Lake Country Food Bank and the Lake Country Boys and Girls Club has been put up for sale by the Central Okanagan School District.
Both the food bank and the boys and girls clubs operate out of the old Winfield Elementary School next to Highway 97 in Winfield, a location the district says it no longer needs to hold onto for future use.
“We don’t see a lot of build out in that downtown core in Lake Country where the old Winfield Elementary School is,” said Larry Paul, school district secretary treasurer. “It’s an undersized site. It’s not overly safe with the play-field sloping toward the highway so it’s not the best conditions for having a large number of elementary kids there.”
It’s the second piece of property owned by the school district that is up for sale in Lake Country, as it also plans to sell a parcel of land on Woodsdale Road, currently used as a dog park. Last year the district purchased the Aspen Grove Golf Course with plans to use the course for playing fields when a new middle school in Lake Country is eventually built. Currently that project is fourth on the district’s capital project priority list.
The boys and girls club has been in the old Winfield Elementary School for the past 13 years. It currently has 280 members participating in a variety of programs from mom and tot morning programs to after school care.
Okanagan Boys and Girls Club CEO Diane Entwistle says they are confident they will find a new home when the property is sold.
“Our Lake Country Club is a vibrant community centre, providing children, youth and their families a place to call their own,” said Entwistle. “We have a long history of tremendous community support in Lake Country and are looking forward to working with our partners to find a permanent location in the community. “
Paul says while there has been one showing of the old Winfield Elementary School, it remains to be seen when it will sell. He added it was a tough decision for the school board to approve the move to put it up for sale, knowing the boys and girls club as well as the local food bank are in operation there.
“It’s very unfortunate. I know the food bank has been working on a new location but the boys and girls club, that’s going to be a challenge for them,” he said. “What would be nice is if we could eventually work a situation where they get back into our school.”
Paul admitted there will likely be a time between the eventual sale of the Winfield Elementary building and the construction of a new middle school, but added there could be potential for the boys and girls club to have a location built in a new school, under a current provincial government program called Neighborhoods of Learning.
Under the program, school districts may partner with a community group to expand the construction of a new school to include as much as 15 per cent extra space. The province funds the extra costs of construction and the community group runs the extra space. However there is no guarantee the program will still be in place, when the new middle school is eventually built.
Once the old Winfield Elementary School is sold, the school district plans to look into purchasing more land in Lake Country for a future elementary school, likely in the Tyndall Road and McCoubrey plateau area of the district.
“We see a need in the reasonable near future in the Tyndall Road area,” said Paul. “If you look at the District of Lake Country’s Official Community Plan, it shows significant growth along the whole Western corridor. The big area for development now is the Lakes but eventually they will run out of land and development will go further south. We want to have a school that is close to the kids where we see a need.”