Francophone school benefits exaggerated: writer
Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 06:00 am
The front-page story in the St. Albert Gazette, Saturday, Feb. 8, providing comments by M. Ron St.-Jean, regional school trustee for the Greater North Central Francophone School Board, on the Eldorado Park school site issue begs a reply.
M. St-Jean’s introductory remarks refer to the matter of size using the terms; “adequate”, “amply large enough” and “smaller site size.” He then proceeds to describe the proposed school with; “It’s going to be a first class facility with all of the amenities of a regular high school.” This would seem to indicate that he and his board have been privy to the detailed plans of the project which, despite numerous requests, we residents of St. Albert have not! His further description of the new school being “superior” to the current facilities at the Youville Centre is obvious and need not be stated.
Reference is made to the matter of “traffic concerns,” which the recommendations of the still ongoing Traffic Study will solve. Again, this implies knowledge which we do not yet share. Such optimism is exemplified with the statement; “We contend that our buses are going to have minimum impact.” I suppose this admission is an honest improvement over the conclusion in the initial traffic study report stating that the project would not have a negative effect on the area.
Admitting that due in part to the “Public-Private-Partnership (P3)” nature of the project, future expansion will not be possible on the Eldorado Park and thus an additional site will be required should be of major concern to both the Regional Francophone School District and the City of St. Albert. A subsequent statement that no other sites (which would provide for future expansion) are feasibly available is simply not true and the suggested delays are exaggerated.
I offer that the priorities of the two major stakeholders in this whole matter, although appearing to be in opposition are in reality, intertwined. The francophone community both needs and wants a new school while the Erin Ridge community desires to preserve what is left of its much valued and utilized park space. The true reason for the city’s refusal to budge on the matter in satisfying the needs of both communities remains a mystery. The original Area Structure Plan (ASP) of the Erin Ridge subdivision provided a total of approximately 17 acres of park space which subsequently was reduced by some seven acres when a previous city council sold a parcel of the park to a developer for residential use. The remaining space is now under threat of virtual elimination if the proposed rezoning is approved.
Murray Lambert, St. Albert