Board's decision to keep school land in public sector sidelines two bidders
That effectively puts St. Patrick's School, a private school and one of two high-profile bidders, out of the running for the property on Richmond Road. The other, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, is a public body and remains a possible buyer for the eight-acre site.
A third bidder, Langford's Hayward Communities, was looking to build seniors' housing on the site but is also no longer eligible because it is a private developer.
Other bidders may be affected, but not all have gone public with their plans and the board has yet to unseal the proposals.
School board chairman Michael McEvoy said keeping the property in the public domain is one of three primary concerns put forward by the surrounding community.
"One is Bowker Creek, which is very important environmentally and important to the community. People were also concerned about the greenspace in terms of ensuring that it remained part of the community, and the third thing was that [the site] remain within the public domain.
"The board listened and said yes, we will make those part of the criteria prior to opening the bids."
Backers of the St. Patrick's bid had hoped to move to Richmond from their smaller site on nearby Trent Street, adjacent to Royal Jubilee Hospital. School parents and others were active in canvassing neighbours and drumming up support.
VIHA is looking at the Richmond property for various services that do not have to be located directly on the hospital grounds. There has been speculation that if St. Patrick's had won the bid for the Richmond property, which has an assessed value of $5.2 million, VIHA might buy the current St. Patrick's property.
Richmond Elementary was closed in 2004, and was subsequently leased to Ecole Victor-Brodeur for 21/2 years. The property was put up for sale in January through Colliers International, with 13 bids being received before the Feb. 21 deadline.