A zoning amendment would see a dormitory as a permitted use on the property of The Glenfir School on Pierre Drive.
The amendment is needed so the owners of the facility can complete its sale.
Mary Taylor, former business manager for the school and now a consultant, said the school’s owners have been trying to sell the building since it closed.
“We have had lots of interest, but most of the interest came from people hoping to get it for next to nothing,” she said.
The school, on a seven-hectare property on Pierre Drive, was built in 1996 and underwent an expansion in 2006. The present school building occupies 3,700 square metres.
The school has been closed since the spring of 2011. However, Cindy Leung has expressed interest in the property, in order to start a school offering the International Baccalaureate program.
The buyer is asking for a change to the designation and zoning in order to construct a dormitory on the property.
Taylor said the interested party, from British Columbia, wishes to reopen the school to offer education from early childhood to high school. The facility would include boarding for high school students.
There are 4,655 schools worldwide offering the International Baccalaureate program. In British Columbia, there are six schools offering the program, but none offers boarding. In all of North America, only three schools with the International Baccalaureate program includes boarding, only one in Canada.
“Having the right program to start in this property will attract many families into Summerland and also the surrounding Okanagan region,” Cindy Leung, school operator for the proposed facility said in a letter to municipal council. “I truly believe that this property is ideal for attracting international and local students and having the school as an IB Continuum school will drive the demand from parents wanting to enrol their children.”
Leung added that the buyer hopes to have a boarding facility in place as soon as possible, to allow international students to attend as early as 2018.
In a report to municipal council. Dean Strachan, director of development services for the municipality, said a dormitory would need to be added to the zoning bylaw as a defined use in the I-Institutional zone.
The proposed 200-unit dormitory would contain sleeping units for students or staff affiliated with the institution. It may contain communal kitchen facilities, but not facilities for meal preparation in individual sleeping units.
Taylor said the zoning is important if the facility is to reopen as a school in the future.
“Last year we almost had a deal on the table,” she said.
A bylaw to amend the designation and zoning to allow for the dormitory has passed first and second readings at Summerland council. A public hearing on this bylaw will be held on Aug. 14.