British Columbia

Vancouver School Board launches public consultation on future of Kingsgate Mall

Quirky Kingsgate Mall in East Vancouver has been a cash cow for the VSB for years. Now the school board wants the public to weigh in.

Who knew the VSB owned the land under quirky Kingsgate Mall? Now the question is what should they do with it?

The VSB has owned the land under Kingsgate Mall since 1892. (Catherine Rolfsen)

For over 40 years the Kingsgate Mall has escaped Vancouver's never-ending facelift, serving its Mount Pleasant patrons with an eclectic mix of stores and services in a glam-free environment reminiscent of the 1970s.

Surprisingly, the modest little mall has also been generating big money for the Vancouver School Board — upwards of $750,000 per year, The VSB has owned the East Broadway and Kingsway lot on which the mall sits since 1892 when the long-gone False Creek School first opened on the site. 

(VSB)

But 124 years later and facing a $24 million budget shortfall, the VSB is now contemplating its future with Kingsgate, and asking for public input.

"One of the questions we're asking is what do you think the school board should do with it," said VSB chairman Mike Lombardi.

According to Lombardi, the VSB could see revenue from the property increase to $2 million annually — money which flows directly into the operations budget, offsetting the deficit. The lease with mall operator, Beedie Development Group is set to be renegotiated next year.

Selling the land is also a possibility, although money raised from a sale won't help the budget shortfall because it would be restricted to capital projects like new school construction and building upgrades.

Lombardi says the latest assessment pegged the Kingsgate land value at close to $80 million, up 42 per cent from last year's assessment of $56 million. 

"We've made a decision not to sell school sites and we think that's important because we'll never be able to buy school sites again," he said, noting that Kingsgate falls outside of that rule as one of four non-school properties owned by the VSB. 

"We don't want to do anything that's not in keeping with the residents or community," he said. 

An open house is scheduled for May 1.

With files from Farrah Merali

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