Miscommunication between municipal officials and the provincial government about access through the Valley View Centre property in the 1950s may have contributed to the accessibility issues through that area today.
The provincial government constructed Valley View Centre (VVC) — known then as the Saskatchewan Training School — between 1952 and 1955 on land within the Rural Municipality of Moose Jaw.
It was also during the final year of construction that the City of Moose Jaw constructed the Seventh Avenue Southwest Bridge. Since there was no all-season road to the VVC property, that road became the primary access point to the complex.
Premier Tommy Douglas helped open the $8 million centre on May 18, 1955, saying this was an important milestone for the care and training of people with intellectual disabilities, according to the website eugenicsarchive.ca.
The school’s launch was, according to Douglas, “The most outstanding event involving this community.” He believed the province would have a continued need for the institution, while it would last into the future. This is why he was grateful to Moose Jaw and the entire province for their support.
“These are monuments that will tell our children and our children’s children that the people who lived in Saskatchewan in 1955 had a concern for those less fortunate than themselves,” he added.
Moose Jaw mayor Scoop Lewry was also excited about the opening, saying residents were grateful to have the school in their backyard. The mayor also thought the complex would bring additional financial stability to the community.
“(The institution would) bring to this community a very substantial increase in population and add a great deal to the total volume of spending power that is available to purchase services and goods in the business places of the city,” he added.
In 1963, the City of Moose Jaw annexed a portion of the VVC farmlands into the municipality. The city then annexed the remaining VVC property — including its building improvements — in 1970.
The provincial government operated Valley View Centre from 1955 until 2019, when it closed the complex and blocked the entrance. That caused problems for residents Tim Avery and Jim Thorn, who can reach their properties — which are adjacent to VVC — only by an access road through the VVC site.
They won’t be able to do that much longer, though, since the province plans to erect a permanent fence this July 31 since it has sold the property to Carpere Canada.
The families’ lawyer, David Chow, provided the Moose Jaw Express with some historical information about the property and what might have been had elected officials kept better records.
According to Chow’s document, before the province constructed VVC, the pre-existing survey plan for the area’s intended residential development provided for an east-west street, with the proposed name of Argyle Road. That road — which was to connect Highway 2 south with Ninth Avenue Southwest at the Highway 363 intersection — was never constructed.
When the province built Valley View, it constructed the main administration building over top of the road allowance that had been proposed for Argyle Road, the document said. It is unknown if that road was ever in the final survey plan or if any legal road allowance was altered when the province constructed the school.
“Given the magnitude of the project and the support from (municipal) officials, it is inconceivable to imagine that the (RM of Moose Jaw) did not provide its permission to build across the non-existent Argyle Road,” Chow said.
A private roadway was constructed on the property more than 50 years ago to allow vehicles to travel back and forth there, the document added. The private roadway was never legally surveyed or registered as a road allowance. The province still owns the title to the area upon which the private road sits.
So, based on the available information, it’s unclear if the RM of Moose Jaw provided permission for the provincial government to build VVC’s administration building over the planned Argyll Road. Regardless, the proposed residential development and its placement along the Valley View property further complicate issues between city hall and the provincial government today.