A significant piece of Armstrong’s history is a step closer to being preserved.
Following a public hearing Monday, city council gave third reading to a bylaw that will give Armstrong Elementary School official heritage designation.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful,” said Gail Salter of Armstrong’s Heritage Advisory Committee and the Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Arts Society, who attended the public hearing.
“It’s one of the most historic and beautiful buildings in Armstrong, and has a lot of history.”
Council is expected to pass fourth and final reading at its next regular meeting June 10.
A celebration for the designation will likely happen in the fall when school is back in session.
It would become the 12th property in Armstrong to receive heritage designation.
A property that receives heritage designation in Armstrong is protected from the owner making changes to the facade of the building without having applied to the city for a permit to make such changes.
“It gives the city some authority to stop people from doing something that is not historically correct,” said Armstrong administrator Patti Ferguson. “It makes it obvious to the current owner and any future owner that the building means a great deal to this community.”
The school is currently owned by the North Okanagan Shuswap School District, which is well aware of the historical significance to the community.
Because it will have heritage designation, the school would be eligible for the heritage restoration and conservation grant program.
Armstrong Elementary School opened on Sept. 8, 1921, and was one of the first consolidated schools in B.C.
Prior to its construction, area children attended eight separate school houses in the area (one on Pleasant Valley Road in Spallumcheen still stands) and it was then-Armstrong Mayor Jim Wright who hit on the idea of bringing all the kids to one consolidated school.
“He convinced the department of education to do it and it became one of the first consolidated schools in B.C.,” said Salter. “That’s what it was known as for some time, the consolidated school.”
Consolidation of Armstrong Elementary School also led to the idea of transporting kids to a central school. Modified trucks were used, the precursor to the school bus.
“It was a first in B.C. and Western Canada, the concept of bringing the kids into a central school,” said Salter. “The modified trucks were rough. Kids spent as much time pushing them as riding in them.”