Friday, April 17, 2015

Prince Rupert Council may have some fences to mend with the School District

SD52 officials are not happy with
the way their concerns were
received by Prince Rupert Council
The reception that the School District received as part of its presentation to the Public Hearing into the Canadian Freightways yard on Monday night seems to have provided for some disappointment for the Board of Education officials.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the School District provided its objections to the planned rezoning of the land along Highway 16 near Frederick Street, concerned over the potential impact that the planned increase in industrial activity may have on land that they are attempting to sell at the old Kanata School site.

During that Hearing process, Council members did not appear to accept those concerns as valid, with Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham in particular taking up the talking points on behalf of the city and any impact that rezoning might have on the Board of Educations land sale ambitions.

In fact, at Monday's council session City Council moved the zoning issue forward and addressed it again in a special session of Council held on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, CFTK TV outlined that the reaction from Council has not been greeted well by School Board officials, with Chair Tina Last outlining the concerns that the Board of Education had with the reception.

The Canadian Freightways issue, marks the second time in recent months that the School District and City of Prince Rupert have been at odds over a proposed development plan.

Last year, the Board of Education raised its objections to the City's plan to develop the old dump on Wantage road into work camp like housing for proposed LNG and other major projects should they arrive on the North coast.

Similar to how events unfolded on Monday evening, during that December hearing, Council members seemed to suggest that the School District concerns did not carry enough weight to sidetrack their plans, though it should be noted that the proposed work camp site hasn't had much forward momentum since that time.

Still, that's two for two when it comes to contentious issues between the School District and City Council.  Making for a bit of an uncomfortable gap when it comes to Mayor Lee Brain's recent commitments towards better engagement between the City and other regional stakeholders.

It's ironic in a way, that while the City expresses concerns over how the Province is treating the city and seeks to build alliances with city residents and with other communities, that one relationship quite close to home seems in a bit of disarray at the moment.

In the past, City Council members have suggested the need for more frequent exchanges of ideas with School Board officials, noting that the two groups haven't of late had opportunity to get together and discuss issues of mutual concern.

After the last few months, it would seem that it might be timely for the Mayor and Council to reach out to School Board officials, looking to seek out some common ground on the growing irritations between to the two groups.

For more items related to School District developments see our archive page here, further background on City issues can be found on our  City Council Discussion archive page here.

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