Monday, June 22, 2009

Growth plan collides with ARC

The Barrie Examiner posted this story Monday about the Simcoe County District School Board's decision to close Prince of Wales school in the urban core of Canada's fastest growing city. Some city councillors are upset the board is neglecting the needs of the city's downtown at the same time the province is telling Simcoe County and more specifically the City of Barrie how it wants to focus growth in the area instead of continuing urban sprawl ad naseum.
"Asking the province for special funding may be a long shot, but I'm hopeful that these ministries will back up their focus on downtown Barrie with an investment in schools," (city Coun. Jeff) Lehman said.
"We are not asking the province to overturn the board decision, but to provide new, directed funding, given that Prince of Wales is the one and only elementary school in a provincial urban growth centre within Simcoe County."
Lehman said the new growth allocations in Simcoe Area: A Vision for Growth make all the board's previous planning work out of date.
"They need to re-examine all the numbers before they proceed to close any schools, because everything just changed," he said, adding the school is vital to that area of Barrie.
It's an interesting idea, but I quibble with one point. This school is not the only elementary school in the province's preferred growth centre in the county. Barrie's urban borders do extend beyond this neighbourhood and there are plenty more schools within its borders.
The request to halt the closure until the new study's numbers are incorporated is a stalling tactic. The Greater Golden Horseshoe growth plan itself is almost five years old and the board (and city) have know the province's intensification target for the area for some time.
Again, intensification and new residential development do not always equal stable populations of school-aged children. Those that do add children to the area likely want those kids to attend the best facilities possible.