Demolition process begins in advance of new Yarmouth elementary school construction

Tina Comeau
Published on March 13, 2016

YARMOUTH – It’ll be a while before construction of a new elementary school gets underway in Yarmouth, with some former school buildings needing to be demolished first to make way for the new school.

That demolition work has begun, but it will be a long process. And a design for the new elementary school has yet to be confirmed. That will involve local input.

The plan is to first demolish the P.A. Best Education Centre on Parade Street (once a junior high school and also where the board’s adult high school program was located) by the end of March. Interior and exterior work to tear down the building has been happening.

It’ll take considerably longer to tear down the old Yarmouth Junior High School building, which was also once a former vocational school and an annex to the high school. The schedule only calls for the demolition of that building to be completed by August 2016.

Asbestos Abatement of Dartmouth has been awarded the tender for the demolition work. According to the province the cost of the tender is $1.162 million.

The area has been fenced off and signs posted in doorways of the P.A. Best Centre – the first to go – warn of the presence of asbestos.

The junior high gymnasium at the former Yarmouth Junior High School is not part of the demolition, as it is a newer portion of the building. It will be incorporated into the design of the new elementary school.

The new school isn’t expected to be ready for occupancy until September 2018. The timeframe has been determined by the province.

In January, Tri-County Regional School Board voted in two 7-3 votes to close Arcadia and South Centennial Schools at the end of this year. Arcadia students will go to Plymouth School in September. South Centennial students will go to Central School.

At the school board’s March monthly meeting, board member Michael Alden Fells brought forth motions to rescind the board motions to close the two schools in June.

He said he sees no rationale to closing the schools ahead of the opening of the new elementary school. Fells is concerned about the impact of moving students twice in a span of two years, which will happen with South Centennial students who will go to the new elementary school, as well as current Grade 5 students from both schools who will move on to junior high a year after their move.

Fells is also concerned about students attending class and playing on a playground directly across from a construction site, where a lot of dust will be present. Board members Andy Baxter and Dolores Atwood echoed concerns similar to those raised by Fells at the meeting.

In the end, however, they were the only three board members to vote in favour of rescinding the motions. So the original motions stand.