Preparations are underway for a new middle school set to be built in Anmore, with tree removal planned in an adjacent Port Moody park.
The new Heritage Middle School will be built on a 10-acre site in Anmore, east of Bert Flinn Park and north of Heritage Mountain Secondary school.
Arborist Norm Hall told Port Moody council last week that a dense second-growth coniferous forest covers the area, consisting mainly of 80-to 100-year-old trees.
"The trees are generally found to have poor structure because they've been growing adjacent to one another so closely," Hall said.
"They haven't developed very good taper in their trunk and they don't have a very strong root system."
However, clearing the edge of the park would create instability due to wind turbulence.
As a result, the weakest trees will be removed, although the full extent of tree removal is currently unknown. Gaps created by the process will be filled with a two-to-one replacement.
Primary access to the new 500-student school will come from the north via Hummingbird Drive in Anmore. Secondary access from the south will be available from the Port Moody side by extending the existing driveway from Heritage Mountain Boulevard.
The new school will feature a two-level tiered design. The main classrooms will be arranged around an elevated courtyard. A large stairway will lead down to the arts and gym level, which will be directly adjacent to the entrance from Port Moody.
A green roof system will manage onsite storm water and provide for biodiversity. The building design and materials aim to maximize the use of natural light, and the completed building will achieve a LEED gold standard.
The proposed plan includes a one-way drive-through concept with angled parking spots. The area north of Heritage Mountain Secondary will lose three long-term parking spaces while gaining 13 new drop-off parking spaces along the driveway extending north from Heritage Mountain Boulevard.
Southeast of the secondary school, 24 new long-term staff parking spots will be added along the driveway leading northwest from David Avenue.
In Anmore, 32 long-term parking spaces are proposed north of the new middle school, as well as eight short-term spots and 20 drop-off spaces.
Pick-up and drop-off times will be staggered at the two schools.
Coun. Mike Clay, however, expressed concern about the pickup and drop-off plans.
"I'm certainly not by any means opposed to this, but I don't think anybody would stand up and say we have any glowing examples of how well the pick up and drop off is working at any of our schools," Clay said.
"So I hope that it's being carefully thought out. Anticipating 500 kids at a school is an awful lot of kids. Most of our elementary schools are half that and they have problems."
Site work is scheduled to begin in early 2012, with a the new school expected to open in the fall of 2013. The school district is currently in the final stage of construction document preparation.
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