Two things popped out in this week's Niagara Advance. The first refers to what council is doing to determine whether or what its options might be to continue advocating for NDSS and achieve a reversal of the board's decision.
At a special council meeting last Thursday, council decided four town representatives would join forces with Niagara District Secondary School supporters and the Chamber of Commerce to decide how to proceed.These meetings will continue to be private, as the article notes, so the board is not kept in the loop of committee plans. If I lived any
Councillors began their meeting with a behind-closed-doors discussion of legal options, said (Lord Mayor Gary) Burroughs.
Nevermind this closed-mindedness is the exact opposite of what the Community Schools Alliance is advocating boards do. So school boards have to be open and co-operative with municipalities, but those same councils can do whatever the hell they want to screw their boards over? That's rich.
So is that why NOTL council is forcing the DSBN to waste money on an Ontario Municipal Board appeal over its preferred Virgil school site? Council is about to zone the property the board has identified residential, over the objections of the board and the community that wants, after the same review process that led to the NDSS decision, a new school.
Councillor Jack Lowrey voiced his concern with keeping the land residential, calling it the least appealing option financially. Lowrey said he believes the DSBN will take the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, requiring the Town to hire planners, since the town planners recommended it be zoned for a school, for a case he feels the Town would lose.This is the worst kind of 'have my cake and eat it too' being put on display by town council. You put two members on the Alliance executive, go the minister complaining those meanies in the bully school board made a decision you don't like and then turn around and proceed to use that anger to screw the board over instead of working together with it on a separate school site? Council should be congratulated-- in a couple of strokes, it has managed to not only to overlook tending to the needs of students whose school will be closing at the end of this year, but also weakened the credibility of the Alliance by behaving as though its goals only apply when it serves its purposes.
"When staff makes a recommendation, the judge weighs that very heavily. I want to make sure everyone at this table knows the kind of costs we would be looking at," he said. "I don't share any confidence that we're going to win this with the school board."
Chief Administrative Officer Don Smith said there has been dialogue between both parties and the DSBN is worried about the potential delay of going through an OMB hearing.
"They left me with the impression that they would be happy to talk to the Town in trying to settle this."
Gary Zalepa Jr. said he was glad to finally get some attention from the school board and he too is worried about financial implications, but took a different tack.
"I would like to know the financial implication of losing a number of residential lots where the school would be," he said. "[The DSBN] has failed on everything else in this town in regards to schooling. Let's stick with our original plan."
NB: The advance did publish one more thing Friday, an opinion piece laying out the two situations and how town council is dealing with them.
Town councillors have so far maintained they want control over where a school can be located, and they want residential development on that Line 2 property. And some politicians are understandably angry at the board and not about to hand them anything on a platter. Rezoning that property would seem to be giving up on the possibility of a new high school and elementary school on the NDSS property, and nobody is giving up on anything just yet.
The two elementary schools deemed decrepit have served local children well for decades, and it seems will have to continue to do so until this battle is played out, either with a decision from the Ontario Municipal Board, a change of heart from town councillors, or school trustees giving taxpayers a break and building on the property they already own.