An old school in Bonavista is getting a makeover, thanks to the efforts of the Tipavista Wellness Foundation.
What was once the main high school for the community, before the introduction of Discovery Colligate in the early 1990s, will now serve as a multipurpose centre.
John Norman, who sits on the Foundation, said until that time the building was lying dormant.
“There was a plan but there was nothing major happening to move the project forward,” he said.
Although the building was left untouched for a number of years, Norman said, it’s structurally sound.
He pointed out the Tipavista Arts Foundation was able to acquire funding in past years to put new windows and clapboard on the building.
“Much of that is going to be salvaged at this point,” he said.
The school will provide 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, but the plan is to restore it to the original 1951 state.
But it will mean the removal of the left wing of the building.
“There was some damage and rot to that side of the building,” he said. “To clear up the building, and to really have it ready for an assessment and planning session, we had to get that rid of that deterioration.”
Adrian Welcher, of Bonavista, has been working at removing material from the building’s right wing.
“It’s excellent, I haven’t found any rot in the building,” he said.
The Tipavista Arts Group already owned the building, and, Norman said, it morphed into the Wellness Foundation.
“It was simply a transfer and a renaming of the group,” he said.
Norman said the group formed about three weeks ago.
Eliza Swyers conceived the idea a number of years ago, he said.
“She always had an idea of a site for employment opportunities, fitness, mental wellness, and such,” he said. “When she started talking about the idea last year people got really excited.”
In a statement, Swyers said the centre will host a variety of programs and activities, and will add new dimension beyond just being a multi-purpose venue.
“We are looking at the health and well-being of individuals in a more holistic way, considering factors that make us more vibrant, healthy and whole individuals,” she said.
The plan is to incorporate physical, mental, social, spiritual, economics and other aspects of everyday living into programs offered at the multipurpose centre.
Swyers said the Foundation has reached out to different representatives of the community and enlisted 26 members to the cause. There are hopes of reaching out to businesses to get involved as well.
There are currently three sub-committees formed: local business opportunity, special needs and health promotion.
“We will bring new life to an old building and hope to bring new and exciting activities to residents," said Swyers.
Meanwhile, Norman said, the current work will take until Spring to complete, and strategic planning will take place from there.
“We all have ideas of what should go into the building, but we have to draw up a concrete plan,” he said.
From there the group can seek funding.
The provincial government has already come on side, he said, providing funding for repairs towards the building.
Through the Community Enhancement Employment Program (CEEP) Tipavista received a total of $87,000 from government.
Bonavista South MHA Glen Little called the project a very worthwhile one for the area.
“It’s a preliminary program to get that building ready for the next big phase that is coming down the road,” he said.