Council closer to approval of francophone school

City council took one more step towards complete approval and implementation of a K-12 francophone school at the current École la Prairie school location.

Acting director of planning services Tara Lodewyk said that since the previously requested location for the school in Aspen Ridge there has been a lot of work put into finding a new location.

“On March 19 council gave direction for administration to work with the Francophone

School board to find a site that supports the K-12 school and have since worked to find a way that will allow them to build a new school on the current site,” said Lodewyk.

The current school houses 123 students in Kindergarten and Grades 1-9, 17 of which are in Grade 9. Even at maximum future anticipated capacity as a K-12, the school is only expected to see a total of 300 students.

Council approved the rezoning of the land to allow for the Kin Kanyon Concept Plan to work on conjunction with the new school expected to open in 2014.

“There will be no loss of amenities current or expected, just a sharing of the parking lot,” said Lodewyk.

She even continued on to explain that portions of the Kin Kanyon Concept Plan that were not anticipated to be completed until upwards to 10 years from now could be completed much sooner.

Included in the plan is the relocation of the unlit rink in the area, the demolition and relocation of the school, relocation of the playground, addition of a shared 34 stall parking lot, building of a Class A soccer field, a proposed community centre for the future as well as a future splash pad.

An overall total cost of the project was not presented to council but some of the City costs that would be associated include $20,000 for the relocation of the one rink, ongoing maintenance of the soccer field and maintenance of the parking lot for 30 years.

“The maintenance of the soccer field is what we do with the other schools through the joint use agreement so that’s no different. Then there is the design and construction of the 34-stall parking lot but the initial funds for that will come from a grant through the school board,” said Lodewyk.

An open house was held to speak to the community and more than 50 people attended.

Of the people who attended, 24 were in clear support and cited reasons including appreciation of the preservation of green space and the escarpment, central location for the school, efficient use of the site and overall improvement to the area and a good addition to the City.

“Five people raised concerns including increased traffic and parking, consultation seeming rushed, changes to the Kin Kanyon Concept Plan, high schools being unsafe and that the park area should not be given away,” said Lodewyk.

Nicole Lorrain, francophone school board trustee, said it is a huge relief to be able to move forward.

“Next couple of weeks we put together the final package to come before City council for the zoning and building permit and then it’s done officially,” said Lorrain.

The school is anticipated for the fall of 2014 but Lorrain said there has been word that if all goes well the anticipated schools for Red Deer completion in 2014 could be done sooner.

“We’ve kicked in extra money for a full high school size gym, meeting rooms and other amenities available to the community. We’re really excited being able to share with the community and continue the partnership,” said Lorrain.

Further decisions will be made regarding the francophone school on April 30th.