Doug Boyd is the Secretary Treasurer for School District 60. He says the submission was delivered more than two years ago, but has not been handled by the Capital Branch.
“At the present time, this is over two years ago that we submitted the site acquisition charge that is required for us to have in place prior to the building a new school or anything else, and from what I can gather it seems to be sitting on a desk in Victoria,” he states. “What I’m suggesting here is that we probably need to be more assertive and maybe even have a visit with the ministry, or have one of the capital plan individuals, in particular Doug Stewart, up to visit our region and give him a tour of the sites.”
He goes on to say that the district made another attempt at the end of the last school year to get the site acquisition submission reviewed, but it fell on deaf ears, and is now starting to create further problems by becoming outdated.
“We made a contact towards the end of June, early July in regards to that again, and once again we get the apologies that there’s too much other business going on, they didn’t get a chance to finish it off, and never a satisfactory answer on why it hasn’t been put into place,” Boyd explains. “Part of the problem is now it is getting old, and after two years it’s going to be needed to be re-worked.”
Boyd continues by saying the district needs to push for meetings with the appropriate parties, in hopes of showing them the need for a new school.
“We need to push hard, and the only way I can think of to get something is to talk to our MLA on the topics, but also invite, or go down and visit, and give them the pitch,” he argues. “I can understand ministries not wanting to build schools until the whites of their eyes, but we’re not going to have a site to build on unless we do something quickly, because once we say we can’t purchase at this time, those lands are then re-divided up into residential areas.”
One of the issues from the ministry’s point of view is that they are hesitant to build a school based on hypothetical population growth.
“Projections for this community are changing dramatically and continuously. If you talk to people from the city, the projections for growth are quite phenomenal,” Boyd admits. “Whether that comes to fruition or not, who knows, but right now, the ministry with their tight budgets are not willing to part with the dollars on the crystal ball, and that’s creating an issue for us.”
Also discussed at the COW was the desire to set up meetings with local MLA Pat Pimm, and Fort St. John City Councillors to brief them on questions or concerns on behalf of the school district. A timeline for meeting with the City has not been established, but the district will aim to meet with Pimm prior to September 25, or after October 12.