In the local culture section is an interesting and educational feature written by Richard W. Hiebert of the Battlefords Heritage Society. The story describes how school divisions, working with the Department of Education, collaborated to salvage the historical building that now houses John Paul II Collegiate. It was the former home of North Battleford Collegiate Institute.
It’s interesting on many levels and those who will be deciding the fate of the Saskatchewan Hospital Building should give it a read.
The buildings are roughly the same vintage. Unlike the building now occupied by John Paul II, however, Sask. Hospital has never endured a period of vacancy. As Hiebert points out, buildings left vacant for extended periods fall into disrepair and decay. The former NBCI was vacant for only a short period of time before it was put to further use, and during that process the planners of the day worked to preserve its architectural heritage.
The Saskatchewan Hospital building must not be allowed to languish in limbo. A lack of decisiveness will seal a date with the wrecking ball and such an outcome would be yet another tragedy in the community’s history. There is no question the jurisdictional issues are a nightmare — the building itself being the property of Prairie North Health Region and located on RM of North Battleford land, represented provincially by the constituency of Cut Knife-Turtleford. Those with the power, however, need to come together and come up with the plan. Re-purposing of the old building must be on the table. Anything less will be tragic.