To the editor:
Re: "Letter of the week," Nov. 23.
Bruce Levens questioned the wisdom of the VSB's decision to preserve the original heritage school house of Kitchener Elementary. I thought it would be helpful to explain the information that supported the retention decision.
The wooden school house was built in 1914. The building we are planning to save is rated Heritage A, one of a limited number of its kind in Vancouver. We believe buildings with high heritage significance need to be protected when it's fiscally practical to do so.
While in many cases heritage preservation comes with a high premium, in the Kitchener school house case, it is financially possible to have our seismic upgrade and keep our heritage too. Because the building is wood-framed, it is far less costly to seismically upgrade than a masonry or concrete-framed building. Further, the decision to move the playground will allow us to upgrade and retain the exterior of the school house and put it front and centre. The remaining (newer) sections of the school will be replaced with a modern designed building that will be less visible. While this may seem elaborate, it was in fact one of the least expensive options available for the Kitchener project.
Patti Bacchus, Chairperson, Vancouver Board of Education