Grade 5 students sing “O Canada” at the opening of the new fine arts annex at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Vancouver. Photo by Agnieszka Ruck

Vancouver school marks first step to towering future

By  Agnieszka Ruck, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 22, 2020

VANCOUVER -- After spending last year in a church basement, the young musicians in St. Mary’s Elementary School’s band class can now breathe easily in their very own fine arts annex.

The growing St. Mary’s parish community rallied to build the annex after the Vancouver elementary school became too small for its needs, said principal Brenda Krivuzoff.

“A lot of people were involved, and it was a lot of resources, of course, but we just felt we really value our music program and fine arts program and wanted to give it a special place,” she said of the annex, which was blessed in September by St. Mary’s Parish pastor Fr. Guy Rivard.

The fine arts annex, a portable structure in the parking lot behind the school, is the first small step toward a much greater expansion plan that would make St. Mary’s one of the first schools in Vancouver to incorporate a residential tower development.

Krivuzoff told The B.C. Catholic St. Mary’s is still in talks with the Archdiocese of Vancouver in the hope of moving ahead with plans to replace the existing school with a high-rise tower that would house school facilities as well as apartments. The massive redevelopment project would replace a school deemed in 2013 to be high-risk in case of an earthquake. It would also increase school capacity by about 100 students and use income from the rental housing to help pay for the project.

Officials were optimistically hoping the project would be completed by 2020, with a second phase — replacing the parish rectory with two residential towers, a parish centre and an adoration chapel — slated for completion in 2022, The B.C. Catholic reported in 2016.

Although the process has been delayed, Krivuzoff said “things are picking up pace.”

“We’ve done the demographic studies,” said Krivuzoff. 

“We’re definitely a growing area and I think a lot of people want to come to St. Mary’s. They value Catholic education and they want to come to their neighbourhood school.”

St. Mary’s currently has just under 300 students registered; the new school would be able to accommodate up to 400.

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