Cathedral Finds Walking Difficult After Getting Kicked In The Connaughts

Odds are you’ve probably heard that the Regina Public School Board voted last night to shut down Connaught School permanently at the end of this school year. The decision follows from a surprise engineering report in February saying the building had serious foundation and structural problems and would not be safe much beyond June. Plus, the Board received word yesterday that they would not be able to get insurance for the building even if maintenance work was done to extend the building’s life.

So, no insurance, no school.

Pity to see the beloved pile of bricks being prepped for the wrecking ball. If only Regina Public School Board had thought to put out a tender ten or so years back to get foundation and structural work done on the building.

I imagine that tender notice would’ve looked something like this one that ran recently and calls for bidders on work that needs to be done on Lakeview School.

Lakeview TenderBut I mean, how could Regina Public School Board have known 10 years ago that a building like Connaught that was pushing a 100 years in age would need foundation work?

And how could they have known that the Cathedral neighbourhood would want to keep the school?

I mean, seriously. They’re school trustees. Not oracles.

One should read this as an indication of how difficult it can be to work when you only have imperfect information and certainly not as evidence that the Regina Public School Board and/or the provincial Ministry of Education has wanted to find a reason to bulldoze at least one school in the Cathedral Neighbourhood all along, regardless the wishes of the community.

And you certainly shouldn’t look upon the imminent demise of the Connaught School building and then scoff at the Public School administration when they were patting themselves on the back during their AGM about their commitment to preventative maintenance.

I mean, look! They’re going to spend a bundle on preventative maintenance on Lakeview School so that it never needs to be torn down!

As for Connaught… well… god aren’t those Cathedral residents smug? Don’t you just want to punch them right in their brick buildings?

And I’m sure that whichever architectural firm gets the contract to build the new Connaught School *coughp3acough* will build a very shiny industrial box that won’t be a petrie dish in which to culture fascists.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5’10” tall and he was born in a place. He’s not there now. He’s sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It’s “Girl From Ipanema”, thanks for asking.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

17 thoughts on “Cathedral Finds Walking Difficult After Getting Kicked In The Connaughts”

  1. I’m having a hard time finding it, but didn’t the first news story about the announced $4.1 million allocated for designing mention that p3 would not be involved?

  2. Barb: I don’t remember reading that. But part of the reason I assume they’ll at least be in the running (if not a shoe-in) is because at a public consultation two years ago — which was really just a thinly veiled sales pitch for bulldozing Connaught and putting up an open-concept box — the head of P3A stated that his firm hoped to bid on the contract to design the new school.

  3. It was at the end of the article, which is why it jumped out at me.
    (And, that would be “shoo-in”.)
    I wouldn’t assume too much, especially after a 2-year lapse of time.

  4. The School Board has known for over 20 years that there were problems with the basement – this was told to me by a school official. So this was no surprise. They have been wanting to close the school for 20 years. First due to what they said was low enrollment – but the parents improved the playground and worked to make the school a good one (along with the teachers and students of course!) which no doubt contributed to the good enrollment levels. Then they tried to close it by splitting off the French Immersion and saying that the subsequent numbers would be too small. Finally, by not doing preventive maintenance for 20 years, and having what they did actually be harmful to the building, they get their way because of a problem with insurance. Did they really try to address this insurance problem?

    Who in the School Board staff over the many years or on the School Board is responsible for the poor decision-making that has led to this situation?

    In future I hope they find an alternative to calling it a “Community” school – how can it be when the School Board is so unresponsive to the community that supports the school?

  5. Thank you, Paul. What a sad, sad day for Connaught’s community and the neighbourhood. I wonder what the RBE would do if a consortium came forward and offered to buy the building and the lot…

  6. There’s a Leader-Post story by Natascia Lypny dated March 19 (provincial budget day) that included a statement attributed to Education Minister Don Morgan that both Connaught and Sacred Heart would remain conventional school models as opposed to P3s and that the rebuilds “should” occur over the next two to three years.

  7. What am I missing? I read Mar 19 and Mar 20 articles by Natascia Lypny and neither say anything about P3 Architects. Or have you guys moved on to a whole other subject and I’m still lagging behind?

  8. Paul: I think the article reference was to the generic P3, rather than the company of that name. The confusion is understandable.

  9. Lakeview school, the one now getting the preventive maintenance it deserves, was a later (1920s) work by the architect J. H. Puntin who was responsible for Connaught in 1912. And so were Benson and Wetmore and Haultain and Kitchener schools (1912 – 1921), and the Luther College high school (1925), and the Campion high school (1925), and Regina College old campus (1914 onward), and Fort San (1913 onward), and that former police station Municipal Justice Building (1931) now being sold by the city, and he was local supervising architect for the construction of the Legislature (from plans by the Maxwell firm of Montreal which had won the design competition), and so on. There’s a list of his works at

    http://www.dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/architects/view/622

    but it may be a tad incomplete because he didn’t work for just one firm with its papers eventually ending up in a specific archives collection. Anyway he was an important early architect here and the survival of most of his buildings (RBE properties excepted) seems to suggest he designed them and their basements and foundations pretty sensibly from the get-go.

    P3 is the confusing new name for what was once Joseph Pettick’s firm (his buildings including the SaskPower headquarters and the current Regina city hall) — it’s certainly not the same kind of firm as it was in his day when the designs were original work — seems especially in their RBE projects they are local water-carriers for the Fielding-Nair “open concept” gurus.

  10. Joseph Pettick’s firm evolved into the name P3Architecture well over a decade ago, agent w. The firm has been referred to as P3A long before public-private-partnership (P3) became part of everyone’s vocabulary in Sask.

  11. It’s TIME, Ladies and Gentlemen, to MARCH AGAINST CORRUPTION!! This kind of thing needs to stop. We need to stand up for our rights. We need to demonstrate that we do not want to see our tax dollars wasted like this. Continually catering to the construction and development industry is getting us nowhere but further into debt at the cost of heritage. It’s getting the rich richer, the former-poor filthy-rich (illegally), and is pitting taxpayers against each other.

    JOIN US REGINA – In front of City Hall on Monday, March 31, 2014 at HIGH NOON!!! You, too, can stand for what you believe in, and DEMAND that your tax dollars are respected at every level of government in our great City.

    Find out more at chad4regina.com!!!

  12. Thanks, Gloria, for clarifying the timeframe of the changeover to the current P3A name (which is the one I should have been careful to get right).

    BTW it’s being reported in some places that the estimate of repairs required for another year of operation had ballooned from $20K to $67K. Not quite true. If one reads the letter from the Kenyon engineering firm included in the fat presentation to Tuesday’s meeting (available for the moment from the RBE website, http://www.rbe.sk.ca/sites/default/files/agendas/2014-03-25_agenda_enclosure_7a.pdf, 92 pages!, the letter is at page 8), the estimate for actual repairs is $27K, but ooh now add to that $25K for “allowance for unforeseen / emergency repairs” and $15K for “monitoring inspections”.

    And I find it an interesting use of language, on page 3, discussing results of the parent survey circulated at end of February,

    “It should be noted that the survey did not afford an opportunity to express a preference about the timing of the relocation. Due to liability and insurance considerations that decision needs to remain within the purview of the Board.”

    So even by survey time the relocation and its timing were prejudged by the administration, although mention of the supposed insurance considerations emerged only thisTuesday.

  13. I am pretty sure that P3A has won many awards for their work, including municipal heritage awards, and their buildings are very original. The one at the university with the round roof is theirs, and the RIC building is my son’s favorite building on campus, and it think they did the fire hall on Dewdney. The work on their website looks pretty cool, especially when we look around town at typically drab Regina architecture. Arcola is really cool looking too, and I heard from my teacher friends Feilding Nair did the plans, and P3A the rest, and everyone loves the way the school looks, but are pretty iffy about the way it works as a school. If they are working on Lakeview, I would think they have some good skills with old buildings. Glad to see Lakeview is getting some TLC. Maybe the powers-that-be are finally learning their lessons about fixing it before it is too late.

  14. Yes they do win awards — they are one of the largest architecture firms in the province — but are sometimes acting as local partners for a principal designer from elsewhere. Such as, the new schools where they assisted Fielding Nair, and the RCMP Heritage Centre likewise assisting Arthur Erickson, and the FNUC building was by Douglas Cardinal and I’m not sure if P3A was involved. The RIC building I agree was theirs.

  15. I am such an evidence hound, I would like to see the actual communication re. Insurance, including whether or not it came directly from the insurer itself.

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