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Coquitlam school district launches school property discussion
School District 43 is rolling out a new community consultation process to decide the future of four properties in a bid to better manage its land assets.
And Port Moody and Coquitlam mayors and councillors will get the first look.
On Thursday, the board was expected to meet with city officials to explain the reason behind its Learning, Land and Neighbourhoods Community Consultation, and to get preliminary input before going to the public on Tuesday.
"We are here to listen," said board chair Melissa Hyndes, who said the district hasn't any preconceived notions about what to do with three of four properties that will be under the microscope.
The three on the table for discussion are Moody elementary, which needs to be rebuilt for safety and seismic reasons, and to handle a growing student population; Coronation Park elementary, which closed eight years ago and has become dilapidated; and a small strip of land owned by the district and part of Coquitlam's Victoria Park.
2ND ROUND FOR PARKLAND
The fourth property up for community input is a strip of land at Parkland elementary school in Coquitlam that the district says is under-utilized and could be sold for housing. This is the second round of consultation on this property, valued at about $4 million, and was required by the city of Coquitlam to fulfill rezoning requirements.
"We are asking the public what they see as an opportunity for these properties and what are their concerns," said Hyndes, a Port Moody trustee.
Tri-City residents will be asked what is the best way to utilize the land and what they would like to see happen, and their answers will be part of a report that will be considered in January.
Tuesday, the board of education approved the community consultation, although some trustees wondered if the timeline (see sidebar) was adequate.
"Is 30 days enough time?" Port Moody Trustee Keith Watkins asked, with Hyndes responding that the consultant who is stick-handling the process says it is tight but adequate.
In addition to the community workshops, there will be online surveys and advertising in local media. Members of the public can also download a community consultation guide at www.sd43.bc.ca.
FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS NEEDED
Hyndes also said the board could decide to delay any decisions if it needed more community input but must continue to look at the best way to utilize land resources as it faces pressures to upgrade old facilities and build new ones, particularly in Coquitlam's developing northeast.
Hyndes said that given the province's current funding difficulties, it could be a decade before a school is built on Burke Mountain unless the district can be more self-sufficient in raising at least some capital.
"These are discussions we need to have," she told The Tri-City News.
So far, civic politicians seem to be eager to be part of the discussion.
Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay wasn't available for Thursday's meeting but said in an email he welcomes the opportunity to discuss how to best to utilize school properties for the city's population of young families. "We obviously recognize the challenges at the school district with the geographic shift in the student populations and the growth in our district," he wrote.
One Coquitlam councillor hopes one property won't change. Coun. Craig Hodge said the city is creating a park plan for both Victoria and Leigh parks, and doesn't want the small strip of Victoria Park that is owned by the district to be used for anything else but park. He did plan to attend Thursday's meeting (after The Tri-City News' print deadline), and expects to have more discussions about the property.
'I just don't see a piece of this park becoming housing," said Hodge, a resident of Burke Mountain. "It's an intricate part of this park. We're going to have to come up with an agreement that's suitable with both parties."