By Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Metis Nation-Saskatchewan has decided against taking possession of the former Rivier Academy in Prince Albert.

City Council passed a discretionary use permit at their meeting in April and the Prince Albert Catholic School Division also expressed support for their plans for the former site.

In a statement to the Daily Herald, the MN-S stated that the facility did not suit their needs.

“Our Métis Nation–Saskatchewan government is always looking for opportunities to build capacity across the province and improve our communities’ well-being,” the statement read.

“While we were excited by the possibilities that a facility like 1405 Bishop Pascal Place might provide, unfortunately, at this time, it is not the right fit. We continue exploring ways to expand our capacity for delivering services to our Citizens in Prince Albert and our communities across Saskatchewan.”

In a previous statement in April, the MN-S stated that they were conducting due diligence and awaiting condition reports, inspections and other details to be completed.

MN-S had sought council’s approval for a permit to use the facility as a private school, public assembly, catering service, childcare centre, health clinic and office.

The building was home to the Blessed Marie Rivier Catholic School which was closed in 2017 due to low enrolment with students moved to Ecole St. Mary High School.

In 2018 Saint Joseph Developments outlined plans for a development at the complex, which never happened.

In 2019 the Ministry of Education announced the possibility of using it for Conseil des Écoles Fransaskoises (CÉF) students. The Société Canadienne-Française de Prince Albert (French-Canadian Society of Prince Albert, or SCFPA) was concerned in 2021 as the plan had not moved forward. In 2020 the province announced that it had commissioned a third-party business plan for the concept.

The Fransaskois community of Prince Albert and its partners, including seniors groups, École Valois Parents Council and staff, Métis community members and francophone school board representatives, worked on a business case pertaining to the purchase of the former Rivier Academy as requested by the Minister of Education.

“The city’s French community has outgrown École Valois and former community centre,” a release stated. “It’s inadequate to meet the expectations and needs of parents, students and other French-speaking citizens, including newcomers, with respect to the educational, sporting, economic and cultural potential of the community.”

The building was listed for sale by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in August, 2020.