Plans to renovate the school in Wells got a boost last week.
Barkerville Gold Mines Ltd. (BGM) gave the District of Wells more than $500,000 towards the completion of renovations at the Wells-Barkerville Culture and Recreation Centre. That donation could turn into more than $2 million, thanks to the Canada Infrastructure Community Culture and Recreation Program. Granting through that program requires governments to cover 27 per cent of the cost of the project.
Even if the grant is not successful, the money will be used to improve the building.
A plan to renovate the building was put together by a committee brought together by the District of Wells.
“With little notice to raise such [a] large amount of funds, the committee approached BGM, who immediately recognized the importance of this facility to the community and were happy to partner on this project. The submission would not have been possible without the contribution from BGM,” a news release from the District reads.
The space is used right now by the Island Mountain Arts Society, school groups attending Barkerville’s summer programs, a daycare and independent artists.
It also remains active as a school.
The committee has put out a business plan to renovate the centre. The plan outlines four areas for upgrades: energy efficiency, accessibility, health and safety and recreation and green space.
The project is broken up into three phases, with projects in each area completed over each phase. Upgrades as small as $1,000 to patch cement are included, as well as larger projects, like $450,000 in insulation and window repairs, and $250,000 for a roof over the skating rink.
The community fought to keep the school open 18 years ago, buying the building from the Quesnel School District after a student strike and a hunger strike by a local artist and the mayor.
If the funding is received, construction will begin next fall, with the project — if funded — set for completion in December 2024.
“There is still a ways to go, but by working together, once again, we have shown what our community can do,” Mayor Gabe Fourchalk said in the news release.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the school closed in August of 2019.
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