On Tuesday, School District 43 started down the road of determining the future of four of its properties.
The district held one of five public consultation events at Moody Middle School.
The four properties in question are Coronation Park, Parkland Elementary and Victoria Park in Coquitlam and Moody Elementary in Port Moody.
Supt. Tom Grant said any option is on the table when it comes to the properties, and the consultation process is an attempt to give trustees a chance to hear what the community would like to see.
In the case of Coronation Park, some would like to see a covered sports facility, while at Moody Elementary some residents don't want to see any change and some want to see a new school and expanded programming. "I think the trustees are going to have to get carefully grounded in each property and figure out what the community wants within a framework of how they better serve the whole district," Grant told the Tri-Cities NOW.
He also noted the board may decide to do nothing with the four properties, but that seems an unlikely option.
According to information provided by the district, Coronation Park was closed in 2007 and remains vacant. The site is near the Evergreen Line and is not considered a future public school location.
Moody Elementary was built in 1951 and has a capacity of 250 students. The school could be upgraded, replaced or relocated and is in need of immediate seismic upgrades worth $3 million.
With the Evergreen Line coming, the student population is expected to grow by 67 per cent by 2026.
With Parkl and Elementary, only a small vacant portion of the property is being considered, about 12 per cent of the total site area.
Victoria Park is currently being used as a park and is not being considered as a future school site. The area is owned by the district, but has been used and designated as parkland in Coquitlam's community plans.
Board chair Melissa Hyndes noted the district is the largest landowner in the Tri-Cities, suggesting there are properties being underutilized. "We need to look at what we're doing and see if we're using our school sites to the best use that we can," she said, adding the district needs new facilities in some areas, while others need to be upgraded.
In some cases, the district may consider swapping properties with the City of Coquitlam.
Mayor Richard Stewart was on hand at the open house, and noted the city has, for example, an empty lot beside Hillcrest Middle that could be exchanged for Parkland's land for a city facility. He argued both the city and district represent the same taxpayer and could be working together for a common goal.
"I want to explore how we get both sides in the same room to talk about the opportunities available," he said. But district officials are quick to caution the decisionmaking process for these properties still has a long way to go. Any decision would still likely need approval from the Ministry of Education.
The board is expected to study feedback and make an initial decision sometime in January. The next step involves holding workshops at each site, all from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Moody Elementary School - Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the school gym Victoria Park - Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the Leigh Elementary gym Coronation Park - Wednesday, Nov. 27, in the Moody Middle School gym Parkland Elementary School - Thursday, Nov. 28, in the Parkland Elementary gymFor more information and to register for the workshops go to www.sd43.bc.ca/landmngmt.
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