Thursday, January 14, 2010

NDSS coverage update No. 4

A quick update from last week, courtesy the St. Catharines Standard. The District School Board of Niagara and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake met to see if there is any resolution available that might avoid an Ontario Municipal Board hearing over a Virgil site for a new school.
The pre-hearing conference was held to set a date for any eventual hearing, which would come the week of April 12.
From the first article:
The offer to pick up the pen together to redraw the map of Virgil was "better than nothing," said Town Coun. Gary Zalepa, who attended Tuesday's meeting called by Hoshizaki.
A boundary change will offer up about four acres of developable land if approved by the province.
That combined with properties to be vacated by the board later this year, including Virgil School and Laura Secord School in Queenston, would give the town more room to build than the possible 32 lots at the contentious Line 2 site, said Trustee Lynn Campbell, who was also at the table Tuesday.
"It's welcomed," Zalepa said. "I don't know how much influence they will have in doing that, but there's no hurt in exploring that."
Still, the gesture wasn't enough to stave off an Ontario Municipal Board hearing to settle a dispute about zoning for the new school.
The town would prefer it be built at Niagara District Secondary School, which is set to close in June, even though that would infringe on Parliament Oak School's student catchment area.
I got some interesting e-mails from people in the area regarding Zalepa and his interests in Parliament Oak, so the comments here seem even more interesting as a result. I'll admit I've not had the time to do a detailed review of all the documents posted, but the local weekly was involved again and there are allegations that statements made by council have been glossed over. The folks over at SOS have laid out a nice time line of all the media coverage (including related posts here) and both council and school board items.
The town and board should avoid this OMB hearing-- it's in no one's interest and would only delay the anticipated schedule for construction of what by all accounts is a needed facility.


Anonymous said...

NOTL Councilor Zalepa is not the only town official with a "problem" with Parliament Oak. Councilor Terry Flynn has been quoted as saying "Parliament Oak is going down", meaning that it will be closing. Both Councilors believe that Parliament Oak is suffering from declining enrolment.

While it is true that enrolment is down by 5 students (less than 3%) compared to last year it has a strong base from which to draw students. In addition, the DSBN has proposed to expand the boundaries of Parliament Oak to further increase its population. The boundary expansion was proposed to better distribute the students from the combined Virgil/Col John Butler School. This would allow the DSBN to take advantage of the capacity of Parliament Oak.

Both of these councilors are also strong supporters for a 600 student mega elementary school consisting of Col. John Butler , Virgil and an eventual closed Parliament Oak. They both support the new elementary school on the NDSS property and NOT Line 2 where the community wants it built.

They have some twisted belief that having the mega school on the NDSS property will save the high school. NDSS is the ONLY high school in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Moving the three elementary schools 3km closer on to the NDSS site will not magically save the high school. The majority of grade 8 don’t want to go there.

They know that putting the new school at NDSS would lead to the demise of Parliament Oak. This is because the NDSS location would be within the proposed boundary of Parliament Oak. Given the wonder vision the DSBN has for the new elementary school, it would be a strong draw, even for current Parliament Oak students. The DSBN and the Community also understands this. It is just one of facts that support the location of the new elementary school on Line 2.

I can understand why these two councilors (Zalepa being the owner of a local real estate franchise) would like to see Parliament Oak close. It is located on almost 4 acres of prime property in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s "Old Town". It is worth a small fortune in property development, Real Estate Agent commissions and property taxes.

The Parliament Oak Parents are vocal and are standing up for their school. Recently in the local newspaper, Councilor Zalepa complained that the school sent out a survey that contained incorrect information. Even after it was proved that the information was correct there was no apology from Councilor Zalepa.

The Parliament Oak Community is not intimidated by Councilor Zalepa or Flynn. Parliament Oak seems to be preventing these two Councilors from seeing their dream of a mega-elementary school, and a real nice housing development in "Old Town."

It is just plain stupid for tax dollars to be spent fighting tax dollars at an OMB hearing. There are only a few new Ontario public elementary schools being built. With the number of accommodation reviews taking place across Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is the only place where a Town is delaying the construction of a badly needed need school.

Thankfully 2010 is a municipal election year in Ontario. We get an opportunity to elect councilors that hopefully will actual DO and not just listen to what the Community wants!

Education Reporter said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Particularly as you built to the last paragraphs.


Anonymous said...

Anon. - How do you know that there are only a few public elementary schools being built? How many? Where's the list?