Other options for uses of the former St. Joseph’s School building continue to be explored.
Besides the art studios and gallery that initially went in after the school closed, the gym was rented out to South Island Brazilian Jiu Jitsu more than a year ago. And more could still be in store, according to former St. Joseph’s principal Keefer Pollard, the district principal on behalf of Island Catholic Schools that owns the building.
The diocese began discussions in December of 2019 with All Saints Parish that includes St. Joseph’s Chemainus, and St. Mary’s Ladysmith regarding the future of the building. A committee was formed to examine options for the building and the following criteria determined: to retain a place of worship for the St. Joseph’s Chemainus community; to pay off the $850,000+ of accumulated St. Joseph’s school debt; and to seek an option that would not just focus on acquiring money, but will have a community outreach component.
“We have been waiting to meet with the parishioners of St. Joseph’s to get some feedback from them, but the pandemic restrictions haven’t allowed us to have a discussion in person,” noted Pollard. “After a year of waiting, we have decided to invite their feedback by mail. We looked at approaching them by Zoom or even email, but as this is an elderly group of people, who may have limited abilities using technology, we worried that anything besides regular mail would exclude too many of them from the discussion.”
No other decisions have been made at this time. The resident artists continue to rent their studios, up to Christmas 2021 and perhaps beyond.
The Chemainus campus of St. Joseph’s School closed in June of 2018 due to ongoing financial challenges.