'Schoolgate' isn't done yet
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 14, 2013 06:00 am
Here's an interesting Gazette article dated Nov. 3, 2012. The reporter is Peter Boer and the headline is: "City abandons Kingswood site for new French school."
In it, the article reports that the city "threw in the towel" in their battle with Canterra to build a francophone regional school in Kingswood. Following is an excerpt:
"Mayor Crouse said any schools announced by the province would have to be located on an already existing school site. Possible locations include Oakmont, Erin Ridge, Erin Ridge North and Riverside. If the province announced a school for the francophone district tomorrow, Crouse said, the city could even build the school on the Badger lands, just off St. Albert Trail and Villeneuve Road. 'Water and sewer are just across the highway', Crouse said."
Six months later, lo and behold, the province announces schools to be built; including two for St. Albert. You'd think six months would be sufficient time for the city to prepare for the announcement, especially considering they were well aware of the possibility the announcement was imminent.
And yet, the francophone school was assigned the smallest site available, Erin Ridge, in an already well-established neighbourhood with high traffic volumes and no direct access to multi-lane roads. In fact, the school will have the highest density of students/acre of any junior or senior high in St. Albert, based on the board's estimate of up to 450 student capacity.
When area residents voiced their concern to council, and asked why Riverside or Badger lands weren't picked, we were told "those sites are not ready." Was Mayor Crouse merely misinformed?
To add insult to injury, we were made to feel like NIMBY-ists by some on council for wanting to deprive the francophone community of their school just by turning up at the council meeting to express our concerns.
What on Earth happened, or more to the point, didnít happen in the nine months since Mayor Crouse was touting Riverside, and especially Badger lands, in the paper, as options? Why are school sites decided not by council, but by a small group (the city manager and the school board superintendents) unanswerable to the electorate? Why, in such important decisions, aren't St. Albert citizens allowed some input?
This is an election year and we need to be getting answers and solid directions from our elected officials, and we find it alarming that we are getting neither.
Bill and Kathy Van Hoof, St. Albert