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City of Burnaby buys old school board headquarters for more than $16M

Planned rezoning of Kincaid Street property abandoned when city and school board signed purchase and sales agreement in September
The former Burnaby school board office property at 5325 Kincaid St. is being sold to the city for $16.4 million.

The City of Burnaby is buying yet another multi-million-dollar property – this time from the school board.

A deal between the city and school board will see the former school board office property at 5325 Kincaid St. change hands for $16.4 million.

The school board’s administrative offices were relocated last month to a new building attached to a fully restored Schou Street School on Canada Way, and the plan is to pay for the new building with proceeds from the sale of the old property.

(The province doesn’t provide capital funding for administrative buildings, so the district had to get creative to replace its bug-infested 70-year-old offices, secretary-treasurer Russell Horswill told the NOW in 2018.)

The district initially applied to have the property rezoned from public institution to residential.

“The plan would be to rezone it in a way where it matches the residential neighbourhood around it, so that would produce a number of residential lots that would then be put up for sale,” Horswill said when the original plan was first announced, “and the land value of that disposition is going to be about $15.4 million, which is almost identical to the cost of what we need to build the new building.”

But a report at a public school board meeting Tuesday revealed the district abandoned that rezoning application when it signed a purchase and sales agreement with the city on Sept. 27.

Trustees passed a bylaw to facilitate the completion of the sale on March 3, 2022 or “30 days after the district completes the required work to restore the site,” according to the report.

The board has “reviewed and confirmed” the Kincaid Street land is “surplus to the current and future educational needs of the district,” the report said.

But sometime between the original plan to rezone the property and the start of discussions with the city, the board “expressed an interest to keep the land within the public realm to benefit the citizens of Burnaby,” according to the report.

The province requires “broad consultation” before school districts sell off property, but the  province also recognizes school boards are in the best position to determine the type of community consultation that would be required for site-specific cases.

The district put out a document in 2018 and hosted a community information meeting about the plan to rezone the Kincaid site and sell it, but the plan to sell it to the city was not specifically discussed, Horswill told the NOW this week.

This is the second site the school board has sold this year.

In October, the board passed a bylaw facilitating the sale of the old Duthie-Union Elementary School to the province’s French-language school board, Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, for $24 million.

The city, meanwhile, appears to be on a buying spree.

A year ago, it announced it was buying the Fortius Sport & Health facility (since renamed the Christine Sinclair Community Centre) at 3713 Kensington Ave. for $26.6 million.

Last month, the NOW learned the city had snapped up the Firefighters’ Public House, a restaurant, banquet hall and conference facility in the heart of Metrotown for $13.3 million.

The city is still figuring out exactly what it will do with the former pub property, according to communications manager Chris Bryan.

The NOW has also reached out to find out what the plans are for the Kincaid Street property and is waiting to hear back.  

BC Assessment valued the property at $12,352,000 in 2020 – $9,370,000 for the land and $2,982,000 for the building.

That was up from 2019, when it was valued at $11,509,000 – $9,268,000 for the land and $2,241,000 for the building.

The school board agreed to the final sale price after Horswill recommended getting two independent land appraisals to determine fair market value, according to Tuesday’s report.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor