Saskatoon engineer proposes add-ons to save castle schools
SASKATOON -- The group representing Saskatoon’s core communities has been working to save two of Saskatoon’s castle schools.
One proposed solution is adding on to the existing castle buildings.
Michael Nemeth is an engineer who moved into an eco-friendly housing complex he helped design three years ago bordering Optimist Park.
That’s one of the sites proposed for the new city centre amalgamated school, to replace the aging King George, Pleasant Hill and Princess Alexandra Schools.
He had hoped to have his son attend King George School eventually which is only a few blocks away, so he was disappointed about the plan.
He’s added his voice to the call to save King George and Pleasant Hill, giving his input as an engineer regarding the potential to add-on to either of the buildings.
“We can look at modular construction as an option here, there are local builders doing this to the net zero ready levels,” Nemeth told CTV News.
The designs he’s created follow future eco-conscious Canadian building code standards which, according to Nemeth, would be less expensive in the long run with savings from things like energy consumption.
“We can build much more energy efficient buildings, healthier buildings for our children with great ventilation.”
Nemeth says this sends a great message to our children that we care about their future.
Other community members have been researching the possibilities of adding on to King George School also and are looking at looking at examples across the country where old brick buildings have been modernized with additions.
Karen Farmer lives near King George School and says there are many examples where combining the history of old buildings with new design elements has been successful.
She says local examples include the Albert Community Centre, a former school that was updated with an elevator and is used by dance schools, daycares and is even rented out for weddings.
The former Wilson School in the City Park neighbourhood is another example how old buildings are given a new life.
“An adaptive reuse would be to add a modern building attached to an old building and keep the heritage. You’ve got the best of both worlds,” Farmer said.
The Saskatoon Public Schools told CTV News in a statement that the division has been asking the provincial government for funding to address facility deficiencies at King George and Pleasant Hill schools since 1996, which has been unsuccessful.
“The provincial funding for the City Centre project is only for a new structure to consolidate the three schools. The school division is aware of several ideas being raised in the community, and we appreciate the feedback that has been provided. There will be an opportunity for public consultation as part of the site evaluations, which will be completed this spring.”
That’s not something that Nemeth accepts.
“We’re often told things aren’t possible and then they happen. The existing castle schools are centres of our communities, that have been established over the past 100 years, and to go and move them needs to be thought about more.”
Both Nemeth and Farmer say the spring timeline given to make a decision on a site may be unrealistic given the effect the pandemic has had on public consultation and the amount of research still required to make an informed decision which is beneficial for the communities involved.