Porter Street PAC in Coquitlam vows to fight property sale
Parents of students attending Porter Street elementary school in Coquitlam are scrambling to mount a campaign to stop a proposal to sell school property for housing.
Wendy Oloman, who is on the school Parent Advisory Council (PAC), said parents are concerned about the proposed sale, and the impact that nine new houses on Grover Avenue would have on traffic and school access, and they don't believe the land is surplus as defined by School District 43.
"We use that land every day. The kids play on it for soccer. It's a major access point...we think they've made an error in deeming it surplus," said Oloman, who was chosen by the PAC to be the spokesperson.
The PAC is setting up a committee to look further into the matter and plans to present its concerns to the board of education on Oct. 23.
Just over three weeks ago, the board of education approved a process for gathering public input for selling land at Porter Street and Parkland elementary schools, both in Coquitlam. If sold, the properties could accommodate 17 houses, according to the district, nine at Porter Street and eight at Parkland along Como Lake Avenue. After costs, the sale could generate about $4 million in revenue, which the district says it would use for other capital projects in Coquitlam.
But Oloman said Porter Street parents don't like the idea and felt it was sprung on them, despite the fact that a public consultation process was put in place.
According to Oloman, an open house held last Thursday should have been held in a gym instead of two narrow hallways. Approximately 150 people showed up, she said, and some had trouble getting their questions answered, and others were turned away, she said, for lack of space.
"I was disappointed in how the meeting was structured," said Oloman, who has one child at the school of about 375 students. There was no presentation, she said, and parents had to track down people to try and get their questions answered.
She said parents don't understand why Porter Street property was identified as surplus when there are closed schools with strips of land that could be sold off that aren't used everyday by children.
"There's a lot of flaws in choosing this land," she said, and added that parents still have a lot of research to do to figure out why exactly Porter Street was identified as having surplus land.
At a council meeting in September, when trustees agreed to look into selling the properties, secretary treasurer Rick Humphreys admitted the timeline for gathering input was "aggressive." But he said it was just the beginning, and if approved, the land sale would still require a lengthy city approval process.
The board is expected to make a decision about the properties at its Nov. 6 board meeting.