The rumour mill is running rampant again about the sale of the former St. Joseph’s School building in Chemainus, prompting Keefer Pollard to deny it once again.
The latest unconfirmed report making the rounds involves a sale to a group proposing to turn the site into a drug addiction treatment centre, with in-patient services.
“No decisions have been made yet,” noted Pollard, the district principal of Island Catholic Schools that owns the building. “We have been in conversation with members of All Saints Parish – St. Mary’s Ladysmith and St. Joseph’s Chemainus – but nothing for certain yet, all speculation.”
The diocese began discussions in December of 2019 with All Saints Parish regarding the future of the building. A committee was formed to examine options, with the following criteria: 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.
In July of 2020, there was a general consensus around town about the sale of the building that now houses the St. Joseph’s Art Studios and South Island Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the gym.
“The school has not been sold,” Pollard said at the time. “We have informed the artists that most likely there will be no change until at least Christmas, so, barring unforeseen circumstances, they can feel secure in their rented space until then.”
That Christmas came and went and no other decisions have been made. The resident artists continue to rent their studios, up to Christmas 2021 and perhaps beyond, Pollard indicated.
He assured the Courier we’d be the first to know of any developments with the building.
St. Joseph’s Elementary was a well-known Catholic School in Chemainus that served the community from 1964 to 2018, but closed in June of 2018 due to ongoing financial challenges.