Vacant building a community eyesore
© Derek Montague
Closed since 1998, Robert Leckie School in Happy Valley-Goose Bay has been a constant eyesore in the Spruce Park area.
Robert Leckie School has sat vacant and mostly unused in Spruce Park since closing in 1998. Now, the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is hoping to get rid of the old eyesore and utilize the property.
“When we talk about Spruce Park, obviously the biggest eyesore is Robert Leckie School,” said Coun. Bert Pomeroy.
“We’ve written the provincial minister responsible for Labrador (Nick McGrath) … we’ve asked the minister to work with the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to find a way to rid the community of that eyesore.”
Robert Leckie is one of 18 vacant school buildings collecting dust across the province. Out of the 18, Robert Leckie as also been closed the longest.
Back in November of 2012, then director of education for the former Labrador School Board, Henry Windeler, told The Labradorian that the board was in the process of getting full title to the Robert Leckie property. Once that process was complete, they planned to sell it to a private contractor.
Windeler also said that, because of prior building restrictions in Spruce Park, there was no point in trying to sell Robert Leckie.
“The whole thing is rather complicated … spruce park had a no building (restriction) because of low level flying … there wasn’t any opportunity to sell the land because of the low level flying. They changed that two years ago,” said Windeler in 2012.
In an emailed statement to The Labradorian, a spokesperson for the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said the process is still ongoing to get rid of the property.
“The district is currently in the process of obtaining information necessary to address a Crown grant related to the property. We will continue to work with the Crown Lands division of the provincial government to ensure all the necessary processes are completed. It is the intention of the district, once all preparations are complete, to then market the property.”
The Happy Valley-Goose Bay town council would like to see the Robert Leckie land used for residential housing, especially since the property is already located in a residential neighbourhood. Coun. Pomeroy believes it would be perfect for seniors’ housing.
“The town would certainly be interested in acquiring the property and the land that’s available around that school,” said Pomeroy.
“We’d like to remediate that whole site, to carry out some improvements and, hopefully, redevelop site into residential building lots.”
Trying to remove Robert Leckie School goes hand-in-hand with council’s “Spruce Up Spruce Park” initiative, which is taking place this summer.
The council wants to carry out improvements to the different neighbourhoods in Spruce park, making it nicer to look at and nicer to live in.
“Many of our neighbourhoods are lacking open, green, spaces,” said Pomeroy. “Playground facilities have been rundown over the years. We need to encourage property owners to make improvements … we have car wrecks, stuff like that, that are strewn throughout the community and other debris.”
Pomeroy also said the town will be cracking down on commercial vehicles being parked in residential areas.
“Once people see improvements in their neighbourhoods and they take pride in their neighbourhood, then everybody joins in,” said Pomeroy.
Pomeroy could not give a budget estimate for “Spruce Up Spruce Park,” saying that it will depend a lot on Robert Leckie School.
“A lot of it would depend on whether we can get rid of that school and what the cost would be to redevelop that land,” said Pomeroy.