School District 43 puts off plans for new school in Ioco

Latest long term plan for school land acquisition doesn't include a school for area pegged for future development in Port Moody

The Ioco lands may one day house families if long-term plans to redevelop the former Imperial Oil townsite push through.

But a school site for the area is not in the cards, at least for now.

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Tuesday, the School District 43 board of education approved its Eligible School Site Proposal (ESSP) to charge developers more to help pay for land for new schools,

But this year, land for a future PoMo school at Ioco has been taken off the list.

With this change, SD43 hopes, Port Moody council can be convinced to support the document and plans to wrest more money from developers to cover the rising cost of land.

The decision to drop the Ioco area school while retaining need for a school for the future Flavelle waterfront development next to Rocky Point Park was done as a compromise to get PoMo to support the 2019/’20 ESSP.

Last year the city balked, said secretary treasurer Chris Nicolls, forcing SD43 to seek mediation, and while some meetings have happened, the issue has yet to be resolved.

“They didn’t believe that we needed the Ioco school site or the site we had labelled Port Moody Waterfront. We have now relabelled [the second school on the proposed development for Flavelle] Port Moody Centre.”

The hope is the compromise will convince PoMo to approve this year’s ESSP, which is produced annually to identify what land is needed for future schools, what the land costs will be and how much development fees should contribute to property acquisition.

Nicolls also acknowledged that plans to redevelop Ioco aren’t as far along as those for the Flavelle waterfront.

In additon to a school called Port Moody Centre, the school district has identified a need for land for a new Burke Mountain elementary school called Hazel Coy. The land costs alone for this 455-student school would be about $17 million.

Land is also needed for a new elementary school in Coquitlam's City Centre, Marigold, Riverwalk and Fraser Mills, with land costs estimated at between $17 million and $33 million, depending on the school and location.

The proposal seeks to raise fees to $1,000 from $654 for low-density housing units and to $600 from $392 for high-density.

This isn’t the first time PoMo has objected to the ESSP, opposing it in 2014 because of disagreements on development numbers SD43 used to gauge the need for future schools in the city.

Nicolls said he believes about $180,000 to $250,000 was lost this past year during the dispute because higher fees couldn’t be charged while land costs either stabilized or continued to escalate.

But exact numbers are hard to come by because they are dependent on the number of units planned and how far along the development is in the approval pipeline, and shortfalls would be covered by the province anyway.

“We’re hoping that everybody finds that common ground and the importance of moving forward with purpose on the ESSP,” Nicolls said.

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