New Francophone school proposed for Anders

A request from the Greater North Central Francophone Education Region was discussed at City council regarding the development of a school in the Aspen Ridge area of Red Deer.

Senior Planner with the City of Red Deer Haley Mountstephen explained that council’s input would require an amendment to the zoning of the area from a K-8 public school to a K-12 Francophone school.

The City planning department received the request and Mountstephen explained the aim would be to replace the current Francophone school.

“Just to note that the public school board has indicated that they will not be constructing a school at this site and they’ve passed a motion confirming that they will pass the site to the Francophone school for their use.”

Mountstephen explained that information was distributed to the neighbourhood and an ad was placed asking for feedback.

“We received 196 letters but only three were in support and 193 were opposed.”

Concerns that came in regarding having the school in the area ranged from traffic and parking to littering, noise and loitering in the area. Others were concerned about the affects on the nearby hospice and the use of portable classrooms.

“The majority of the concerns had to do with traffic and parking. Parking is calculated differently for each school though.”

Mountstephen explained that the land use bylaw establishes parking requirements for both elementary schools and high schools.

“In this case the maximum number of students driving themselves to school would be 70.”

The original site was meant to be a school and was anticipated to house 600 students from K-8. The proposed Francophone school would house 300 students from K-12 and only 70 students are anticipated to be high school students.

“The Francophone schools usually see about 95 per cent of their students bussed because they’re coming from outside the City.”

City Manager Craig Curtis explained that the plan all along was for a school to be placed on the site.

“The one issue that I do see is that in terms of the parking standards for high schools is that we should make sure we have sufficient off-street parking,” said Curtis.

Other council members suggested that in order to appease the community would be to include a community centre with the school.

Mountstephen explained that in preliminary discussions with the community it had been suggested that the school gymnasium and facility be available for use by the community members.

“I have some of the same concerns as the public but this education piece is more important. If we have problems with schools then we’re really in dire straights,” said Councillor Buck Buchanan.

Council was not deciding on whether or not to allow the Francophone school at the meeting. There was much discussion around issues that the public needed to be informed on and a decision was made to go ahead and provide that information.

A public meeting for the requested Francophone school will be held in Council Chambers on March 5.