The aging School District 91 bus garage in Burns Lake will be retired from duty by next summer. Renovations to the Muriel Mould gymnasium will be completed over the winter, but extensive spring landscaping will be needed once the winter freeze is over before bus service can be completely transferred.
The current bus garage dates from the 1960s and has reached the end of its useful life, said Tim Bancroft, manager of facilities for School District 91.
“It was originally built for a few trades people to use in the 1960s,” he said. “We’ve long since outgrown it and we were looking for a new facility anyway.”
In September 2010, the student bodies of Muriel Mould elementary and William Konkin elementary were combined due to enrolment decline.
The district school board didn’t want to lose ownership of the building, so they kept the property and have been renting out much of the former classroom space to community groups, primarily with a focus on infant eduction, like the Strong Start program and Mother Goose.
The gym has not seen much use since the school amalgamation. Other than a couple of events per year, like hosting job fairs or the district school science fair, the gym has been under-utilized.
About two years ago the school district began looking for a solution to its bus garage and maintenance facility needs.
“We looked around town for sharing opportunities, but there weren’t any,” Bancroft said. “That’s when we decided to take over the other half of Muriel Mould.”
Unlike other gymnasiums in town, including the former Lakes District Secondary School that is now the Burns Lake Band office and Little Angels Daycare, there is no expensive wood flooring in the Muriel Mould gym.
The floor is linoleum on concrete. Once the linoleum is removed, a new floor will be built over the existing concrete that will include in-floor heating, and a mechanic’s pit for service work.
Like many properties in that area, the old garage is on Burns Lake Band land. It is not clear if the property will return to band control or be put up for sale.