Public to weigh in on francophone school site

Red Deer City council will be holding a hearing next Monday to allow the public to comment on the proposed francophone school site in Aspen Ridge.

A public meeting for the requested francophone school will be held in Council Chambers on March 5 beginning at 6 p.m.

A request from the Greater North Central Francophone Education Region was discussed earlier this year 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 said at that time 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 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.

Initially, there were about 193 people who were opposed to the rezoning who had been in contact with the City.

“Since council gave the amendment first reading last month in council we have received more complaints and concerns,” said Elaine Vincent, the City’s legislative services manager. “We expect a fairly large turnout for the public hearing.”

Concerns that have come in regarding having the francophone school in the area ranged from traffic and parking to littering, noise and loitering in the area. Others were concerned about the effects 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.”

Vincent added concerns grew as the province erected a sign on the school site which made it look like the approval for a francophone school had already gone through.

“We worked with the province and had the sign removed. We want to make it clear that this is a council decision and they will weigh what the public has to say before making that decision,” said Vincent. “Ultimately council has a tough decision to make because they are deciding the fate of a francophone school versus the needs of a neighbourhood.”

Following the outcome at the public hearing, the application is scheduled for consideration of second and third reading on March 19. If the application receives second and third reading, the school site will be designated a K-12 francophone school, with the necessary changes made to the East Hill MASP and the Aspen Ridge NASP. If the application does not receive second and third reading, the application and necessary bylaw amendments are defeated and the site remains designated as a Public K-8 school site.

For more information on the public hearing, contact Legislative & Governance Services at 403-342-8132. For more information on the francophone school site, contact the Planning department at 403-342-8208.