Going for broke

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As one of Saskatchewan’s heritage buildings, Connaught has a lot to offer the community.

As one of Saskatchewan’s heritage buildings, Connaught has a lot to offer the community.

Connaught’s life is on the line

Article: Destiny Kaus – A&C Writer

The “Save Our Connaught” campaign hopes for a specific outcome from the school board meeting held on March 4: a second opinion and $20,000 to repair Connaught. Sound like a tall order? Not really. But the matter is much more complicated than it appears.

First off, the Save Our Connaught Committee (SOC) wants a second opinion on JC Kenyon’s engineering report regarding Connaught because it evidently has quite a few holes in it; for example, his measurement methods on the foundation’s movement are flawed.

Rene Dumont, the chairman of the SOC, says, “When you want to know when something is moving, what you do is you measure it, you come back in three months or six months and you measure it again.”

I don’t know a lot about buildings, but heck, even this explanation makes sense to me. However, Dumont says that “in all the reports [JC Kenyon] has made for the school board there have been no measurements done whatsoever.”

Judging from this information and the fact the Kenyon is the same engineer who has built two new schools for the board, is it too much to ask for a second engineer’s opinion?

The SOC hopes that the board will allow them, June Bodkin, a building conservation specialist, and her team of specialists to examine Connaught and form this second opinion.

Additionally, Dumont states that on March 4, “the School Community Council made a presentation to the board requesting that $20,000 be spent on the school so that the engineer Kenyon would sign his engineering certificate allowing the school to stay open for one more year.”

Otherwise, as saveourconnaught.ca says, the school board will “close it in June.” *and cue daunting music*

“If the school board doesn’t want to pay $20,000,” states Dumont, “as a community, we wanted to get together and say ‘look we’ll collect $10,000 and [the school board] can match our $10, 000.’”

Personally, this plan seems extremely reasonable to me because it shows that the SOC is willing to work together with the school board. It’s not like they’re asking the board for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

Ultimately, though, the decision on whether or not to contribute to this $20,000 is completely up to the board. If they choose not to contribute, the only level of authority that can save Connaught is the government.

“At any time the government can say ‘Okay we’ll give $20,000 or let’s have another engineer come in and have another opinion,’” Dumont says. “But they haven’t yet.”

Dang. Well, at least Kate Smart, a mother of two, is doing her part to fundraise the community’s half of the $20,000. According to the SOC’s Building Conservationist Release, Smart launched a fundraising campaign online on Feb. 23 in hopes to raise $10,000 by April 14 for Connaught’s repairs.

As of March 9, Smart has raised $3,518. Hmmm…not going to lie, it looks like she has a long way to go, especially considering that the school board will meet on March 25 to decide whether or not to invest this $20,000 in repairing Connaught. Time is a tickin’!

Robert Hubick, a Heritage Regina board member and the Heritage Regina representative on the SOC, also presented at the March 4 school board meeting.

Hubick says, “we’re telling them that ‘Okay well it’s only $20,000 to get a one year life out of [Connaught].’ It’s going to cost them way more money in that whole year to bus kids. So even if you’re not into heritage, now you’re talking about tax payers dollars…it’s a no-brainer.”

Apparently it’s not a no -brainer, though, since the school board hasn’t figured this out yet…hopefully they will by the 25th, otherwise Regina could very likely lose the historical Connaught.

Image: Emily Wright

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