School site will go forward as planned for Erin Ridge
Motions to meet with site allocation committee not carried
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 04:15 pm
Like it or not, it appears École Alexandre-Taché, the regional francophone high school in St. Albert, will have a new home in Eldorado Park in 2016.
With the public gallery packed and overflow rooms set up, nearly 30 speakers came forward to tell council why the school should – or shouldn’t – go forward on the Eldorado Park site.
Students, parents and school officials pleaded for their school to be built after spending the last few years in the basement of the Youville Home.
“I don’t want to have to go to school in the basement of an old folks home,” Katie Anderson, who is about to start Grade 4 in the francophone system.
Meanwhile several residents made the case for traffic and parking problems, assuring the francophone community members the residents believe the students deserve a school, just at a more appropriate site than Eldorado Park.
“In no small way we are fighting for our lives,” said Erin Ridge resident Murray Lambert, inviting anyone to come to his home to witness the impact traffic is having.
Coun. Malcolm Parker’s series of motions calling for a meeting with the school site allocation committee to address Erin Ridge residents’ concerns and potential alternative sites, motions some worried could delay or possibly endanger St. Albert getting its two new schools, were not passed. Two of Parker’s motions, one to address the residents’ concerns and one to discuss some school site swapping, were defeated. The first was defeated 2-5, with Couns. Parker and Cam MacKay voting in favour and the rest of council opposing, while the latter was defeated unanimously. The other two motions, also dealing with topics to be discussed at a meeting with the site committee, were withdrawn by Parker.
Another motion put forth by Parker, which was to direct the city manager to provide a formal response to council, the public and Erin Ridge residents addressing the concerns of the residents he’d consolidated into a memo, was passed unanimously.
Coun. Cathy Heron wanted to make sure council sees the traffic impact study that is to be completed in the Eldorado Park area. She also suggested an agenda item for the next joint use meeting between the city and the school boards – the potential addition of an elected official or member of the public to the site selection committee.
Coun. Wes Brodhead gave a notice of motion for the council that will be formed after the Oct. 21 election – to take a look at a parking ban along the north curb of Erin Ridge Drive in the hospital area.
Mayor Nolan Crouse was going to make a motion to have the traffic study come back as soon as possible, but didn’t proceed after hearing from staff they were hoping to get it back by early November.
Coun. Cam MacKay raised concerns about planning in the city when it comes to school sites and other problems.
“It is clear to me we have some land planning issues that need to be resolved,” he said.
Coun. Len Bracko noted Erin Ridge residents’ main concern was traffic.
“The school will enhance the community,” Bracko said.
Coun. Lemieux said he had to respect the authority council handed the allocation committee.
After the meeting, St. Albert Public School Board trustee board chair Joan Trettler and Greater North Central Francophone Education Region trustee board chair Karen Doucet were happy with the results.
“We were very pleased our concerns were heard,” said Trettler.
“The school will be a value added to the neighbourhood,” Doucet said.
Erin Ridge residents, on the other hand, were not as pleased.
Lambert, who spoke during the meeting, said it was “civic bullying” and suggested the traffic study wouldn’t help.
“The traffic study, it seems ridiculous to do it after the decision,” Lambert said.
Kristin Toms, who also addressed council, said she now has bigger questions about planning in the community and is still concerned about a regional school being put into the Erin Ridge neighbourhood.
Katherine Van Hoof, who attended the meeting, said after hearing the students and school officials talk about their school, she feels comfortable with them as neighbours, but she is hoping council addresses the issue of traffic and parking problems in Erin Ridge.
“The issues of the traffic are what made all the residents alarmed in the first place,” Van Hoof said. “Those issues are real.”