Municipality would pay half to preserve school site

Sooner or later Silver Valley will need a school site, so both districts should figure out a way to keep the one they have, says Maple Ridge Coun. Cheryl Ashlie.

“To me, it doesn’t make sense to lose that site [Blaney hamlet],” Ashlie said Wednesday.

“We’re in this together. We need to stay in this together. If that site is gone, 20 years from now, there’s no getting it back. How can you not listen to the public?”

Ashlie was commenting after a presentation Tuesday by Nicole Read, asking the district to buy the 1.5-hectare lot at 23103 – 136th Ave.

The lot was supposed to be the site for a new school, but Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows education board said recently that it no longer wanted to buy the property.

That led Maple Ridge council to tell staff to prepare a zone amending bylaw that would allow building of 30 homes, plus townhouses on the developer-owned property.

Since that decision a few weeks ago, residents have mounted a campaign to keep the lot for future school use.

Residents say a school is needed in the new suburb so kids don’t have to face heavy traffic on 232nd Street on their way down the hill to Yennadon elementary. The long-term 2001 Silver Valley area plan also identifies that site and two others as locations for elementary schools.

Read, the Action Silver Valley leader, told council Tuesday that if there’s no money for a school, that at least the land can be used for park or community space.

“Your role is to make decisions that are consistent with the vision of making us a world leading example of thoughtful development and socially cohesive community.

“You need to ensure that your stakeholders are both informed and in alignment with that vision,” she said in a slide show presentation to council.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said he wouldn’t favour buying the property unless the school district agreed to buy the property at a later date.

If that’s the case, “then I’m good with that.”

“If it’s buying it without that, then I struggle with that.”

Daykin said if the district bought the property, it would be difficult to sell it to developers to recoup the cost at a later date because residents would expect the land to stay public.

The municipality already owns land next to the school site. That property is proposed for a park.

But Daykin said he could change his earlier decision to proceed with rezoning to allow housing development on the property if the school board also changes its position.

“That’s got to be given strong consideration.”

District staff will bring a report with options for council at its Feb. 26 meeting.

It could cost about $4 million to buy the site, meanwhile other neighbourhoods have been waiting for parks, Daykin added.

Ashlie said the school district and municipality previously had been working together on the site which has long been identified as a school location, until the school district reversed its decision in November.






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