SMUS scraps jr. school project

School plans to amalgamate with Saanich

senior campus

St. Michaels University School plans to unite its junior and senior campuses instead of redeveloping the Oak Bay junior school.

“We’re still rebuilding a junior school it’s just not going to look like the original plan,” said Laura Authier, SMUS director of marketing and communications.

The plan to redevelop the Oak Bay site, which required some variances, went to Oak Bay council through its committee of the whole meetings twice several years ago.

“They didn’t say no but there were some clear obstacles and opposition,” said Authier. “After that we looked at the escalating costs associated with building on that site … the neighbours raised some good points – we decided to reevaluate.

They announced the decision to parents recently, but don’t yet have a timeline associated with combining the campuses at 3400 Richmond Rd.

“We will absolutely be going through the same process of public consultation,” Authier said. The senior campus is in Saanich, so that process will go through that community and municipal council.

“I’m sad to hear they’ve made the decision to move out of Oak Bay,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “We certainly wish them all the best in their decision to move the junior school to the main campus and will certainly do what we can to assist and accommodate them in doing that.”

The junior school has been at the Oak Bay site since 1918, with the current building dating back to 1959. As a regional school with an expansive catchment area, Jensen acknowledged there were over the years some concerns of traffic around the Victoria Avenue site.

“There’s no question a school such as St. Michael’s University School has an impact on traffic in an area as well as parking. That’s a reality of having a school in a residential neighbourhood,” Jensen said. “Residents there have had concerns with parking and traffic over the years and will no doubt be relieved.”

With no timeline in place yet, potential use of the Oak Bay property remains in limbo.

“We don’t know yet what we’ll do with it. There’s a convincing reason to keep it but we also may sell it, we don’t know,” Authier said.

Jensen agreed: “This will take quite a number of years to evolve. There will be plenty of time down the road for us to review what are the best uses of that property,” Jensen said.