The Calgary Board of Education voted Tuesday night to build a new Elbow Park School.

The board voted six to one in favour of completely rebuilding the elementary school rather than renovating the existing building, which was destroyed in the June floods.

The board did not say publicly the actual cost of either option, but said renovating the school would cost at least 55 per cent more than starting from scratch.

The building is 88 years old and there was concern because of the damage, and that it was built on a shallow foundation, it could collapse.

Sheila Taylor Elbow Park

Calgary Board of Education chair Sheila Taylor said completely rebuilding Elbow Park School is the right thing to do, based on promises made to residents there. (CBC)

Board chair Sheila Taylor, whose constituency includes the school, said the more responsible choice is to rebuild.

“I’ve been hearing from folks since the flood happened about this school, about their concerns,” said Taylor.

“That devastation [of the flood] and that impact continue especially for residents in communities that were directly impacted and so, although time goes by, I don’t think that we can forget about those communities and forget about the commitments that were made to those communities.”

Commitments made 

Taylor said it’s never easy to make a heavy decision like this one.

“Promises were made directly by the premier of this province, by the minister of education and people made decisions in their lives based on those promises.”

Amber Stewart

Trustee Amber Stewart says the Elbow Park School discussion resulted in the most questions raised since the new board was voted in. (CBC)

Amber Stewart, who is the trustee for wards 12 and 14 in southeast Calgary, was the one dissenter on the board.

She said it was the most difficult decision she’s made as a new trustee.  

“It came with a very heavy heart and great weight, and at the end of the day I felt that I put forth my debate and voted with my conscious.”  

Stewart said her concern is whether the spending the money on a new building was the right thing to do for the school board as a whole

“For me the No. 1 factor was the ambiguity around the financial details.”

She said the fact that it’s a beautiful, historical building made it an even more difficult decision.

The new building will be built at the same location.