Council votes Feb. 26th regarding giving up school site for development – see my comments here!

February 27, 2013

These were my points tonight regarding sending the school site property application in Silver Valley forward for first reading and why discussion with SD42 needs to be done first, prior to this decision.  Please feel free to use my points as quotes or I am available by telephone at 778-861-9477.

  • School District Chair Mike Murray said at a Committee of the Whole meeting that “no policy changes have been made from the Province perspective on school sizes or any of that sort of thing.”  The point of the results of the study is there is no longer a need for four school sites.
  • It IS stated in our Official Community Plan that the desire from the community is to have smaller (200 students) sized schools.
  • I have great concern approving first reading then getting Public opinion as I haven’t in my time on Council seen an application that was given 1st reading not go forward for approval.
  • Council, due to the application before us tonight, put pressure on the School District to make a decision on this property and since there is no longer a need for four sites largely due to declining enrolment predictions and the fact that in reality Albion will get a school before Silver Valley, we could be potentially looking at another 15 years before Silver Valley sees a school in their neighbourhood.
  • In evaluating Maple Ridge’s development trends, it is my conclusion that in order to expedite school funding from the Province it’s necessary to revisit our Area Planning Assessment Policy with staff; changing enrolment is one of the reasons to do so and as well we could take a look at our infill policies and see what we can do to encourage development along the major corridors where enrolment is not at capacity .  If we continue to only densify Albion and Silver Valley without balancing out development and filling the schools we have, ultimately the Province won’t be  awarding Maple Ridge with funding for schools at all.  Until all our schools are at capacity we will continue to have this issue and then shared with concerns of some my fellow Councillors, we could potentially lose all our school sites. This concern will then become a reality. Then what?
  • I would like to ask Council to collectively embrace working alongside SD42 and the public and decide if the Blaney Hamlet site is the best decision to let go from an overall community perspective prior to making this decision.
  • I have reviewed all the footage from past Committee of the Whole and Council meetings and three of our incumbents have made reference to this site being the best site out of all the others from a developable, geographical and community perspective and tonight we are potentially passing it up without having a discussion of the bigger picture and what it means.
  • It was said by staff that there really wasn’t much communication between the District and the company conducting the study for SD42 and it is my view that we should defer this application and together be a part of the facilities study.
  • Chair Murray confirmed at the Committee of the Whole meeting both District staff and Council can be a part of the study, we can cover all perspectives, have the public consultation piece of the picture, and together as a community make the best decision.  This would also then allow the opportunity for the public to have input on if they would like us to spend approx 4 million of their tax dollars on one piece of land and also prevent the developer from investing further if first reading was approved and then the study ended up showing different results a year from now as he would be completely out of pocket.
  • With the amount of public involvement we have seen since this was brought up after Christmas and the dedication shown by the neighborhood, to me it still feels like there are too many unanswered questions and many concepts to be looked into and more discussion to be had.  Therefore, based on everything I have said, I support deferral, let’s ask the questions and make a fully informed decision!

After over an hour of debate Council unanimously voted in favor of having further consultation with SD42 prior to approving 1st reading of the development application!




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