Avola resident disappointed by TNRD’s schoolhouse decision

I have never protested anything until trying to stop the ground walnut shell pressure treatment on the Avola old log schoolhouse

Editor, The Times:

I’m “only” a volunteer. I tell stories and sing nursery rhymes with little ones.

I have never protested anything until trying to stop the ground walnut shell pressure treatment on the cedar, 1939-built, previously un-treated, Avola old log schoolhouse. It seemed reasonable to ask the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to register this handhewn log building built by Scandinavians as a heritage site. Is education in the wilderness not a part of the Canadian pioneer story?

At a July 2 meeting, the top TNRD leaders “listened” to three invited residents from Avola who, with others, had stood in the schoolhouse’s driveway and blocked the contractor from setting up scaffolding on June 25.

It seems so obvious, like when the appraiser on Antique Road Show tells a hopeful owner, “It would have been worth so much more. By “fixing” it, you have made a costly mistake.”

As you can imagine, there is still a lot I do not understand.

I do not understand: How the Blackpool Hall is a similar project?

Was it given the pressure treatment? No. Was it stained? No.

I do not understand: Priorities. The suggestion, “How about a heritage registration?” meets with the same reply, “It is too costly.”

Yet, the TNRD has given the go-ahead to expenses for appearance without an engineer’s study of the foundation, investigating for asbestos, nor addressing the recent mouldy, “did the toilet overflow?” smell that is perhaps caused by a long undiscovered water pipe leak in the earth-floor basement.

The minutes of TNRD meetings do, however, mention on three dates that the latch on the door of the women’s bathroom need repairs.

I do not understand: Why is the entire topic of “heritage” rejected by the TNRD? Our ancestors efforts, skills, economics, problems and solutions, the unique “corridor” lifestyle of the First Nations and the present occupants. Do these have so little value?

I do not understand: How the TNRD intends to follow through on their goal to attract tourists? Will the info sign read: “The Avola used-to-be-a-school-house?”

I do not understand: How are three of a possible 26 votes a majority?

“Stain or rot” were the only options the TNRD offered. Letters, fax and email, phone calls and seven votes for “No pressure. No stain.” did not draw any attention or change the outcome of the meeting held June 18 in Avola.

I do not understand: TNRD chairperson Randy Murray’s closing statement: “Democracy at work. Sometimes you don’t get your way.”

An eyewitness to the building of the school in 1939, a teacher from 1946, students from 1958, the president of the Okanagan Historical Society, vice-chair of Revelstoke Heritage Society, director of Kamloops Heritage Society, general manager at Hat Creek Ranch, executive director of Heritage BC, manufacturers of the ground walnut shell. They all contacted the TNRD office. None of them got their way, either.

Multiple voices. Authoritative voices. The TNRD refuses to heed.

I do not understand: What happened to director MacDonald’s campaign platform? “I am going to keep Avola updated. I am going to listen to you in Avola.” During her frequent coffee hours, how did she somehow omit mentioning such significant issues regarding the Avola log schoolhouse while we were sitting together inside it?

I just don’t understand.

Eleanor Deckert


Avola, B.C.