School Board Meetings this Week

It’s been a busy week for the school board. Sadly, due to family and work commitments, I wasn’t able to get to either meeting. But fortunately, Troy Vassos got to the one on Tuesday, and Keith Collyer managed to attend the meeting last night.

District Workshop on School Repurposing

On Tuesday evening, the school board held a workshop with the District on “school repurposing”. John Lewis gave the expected highly biased “spin” on program development and declining population projections – and then attempted to skirt-around public commentary on what should be done with PA lands. Barry Forward then corrected him – stating for the record that ALL of the public comments received stated the lands should be preserved as a capital asset – and only in critical situations should the assets be transferred to other capital interests (i.e. new building construction).

The DNV councillors made some very interesting statements regarding any future new building construction. It turns out they have come to the conclusion that Argyle and Handsworth are in the wrong locations – and that if there is funding to replace them rather than simply upgrade them seismically, they want to examine relocation and incorporation of community recreation and other services of mutual community/school benefit (e.g. enhanced playing fields, tracks, rec facilities, libraries, adult education, day care, theatres, etc.). Barry Forward and Susan Skinner suggested that the municipalities were in a better position to facilitiate planning and how the schools could best intergrate into the OCP than the NVSD (maybe there is hope).

Roger Bassam was particularly strong in questioning the NVSD, noting that even in leasing lands for revenue the NVSD needs to have a maximum 25 year lease period to maintain effective control and flexibility, what land sales the NVSD can put into general revenues to spend as they please, and even asked a leading question “who paid for the school lands?” .. to which Irene Young claimed to have been unable to answer despite exhaustive investigation – suggesting that in the absense of information to the contrary the land belonged to the NVSD. Roger replied the DNV has also looked into the question and obviously have been much more successful in theor research than the NVSD.

One last piece of information that echoes what Keith heard last night .. John Lewis stated the NVSD does not need any money from land sales as they have a balanced budget for at least the next three years.

NVSD Presentation on Land Livability and Learning

NVSD invited three experts on social development to speak at their workshop on Land, Livability and Learning on Wednesday night. The three speakers, although involved in development in one way or another did seem to give a balanced view of the options and responsibilities of the School Board with respect to the “surplus “schools. The most important point was that all three strongly advised against the selling of any of the properties, and also stressed that what ever happens to the sites must be something that meets the broader needs of the community.

They seemed to be suggesting that there must be a bit of vision involved, rather than just viewing the sites as a short term cash injection. One of the speakers poo poo’d one of the suggestions of the School District that the income from the sales would be used to create an education trust fund. The thinking being that it is probably better to retain the ownership of the land and use the revenue from leases etc. to fund future projects.

One of the speakers even suggested that consideration should be given to making sure that if needed in the future some of the land could be reestablished as schools, in case the School District projections for student population were wrong. The Trustees, if not the School Board Administration were given food for thought.

On a side note, at both meetings, the board (John Lewis on Tuesday, and Franci Stratton on Wednsday) indicated that the District does not need the money for budgetary purposes, only for future upgrading of facilities and programs.

Seniors in Village

Give your opinion at the meeting. Wednesday, June 13th, 7 pm at the Capilano Library – Edgemont and Upper Capilano Community Association meeting

Developer, Brooks Pooni and Associates and Edgemont Senior Living, is proposing a complex to be built at the corner of Highland Boulevard and Woodbine Drive, extending upwards along Highland Boulevard and Ayr Drive. The developer has already amassed the seven properties needed for the first phase. A second phase is slated to include another eight properties along Ridgewood Drive. Right now, these properties are zoned single-family residential, so the developer is going to submit a rezoning application by the end of this month.

Here are the main points about the first phase of the development:

140 units, 45 underground parking spots
400 square feet bachelor units will rent for $2750 per month
525 square feet one bedroom units will rent for $4000 + per month (today’s dollars)
Four stories high; some features such as elevator shaft extending higher

The second phase will also be multi-level; most likely rental units.

School Board to present to District Council

7:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Committee Room, Municipal Hall
355 West Queens Road, North Vancouver

If you love your schools, you should aim to be at the Council Workshop next Tuesday. It’s hard to tell from the agenda, but apparently School District Superintendent, John Lewis will be presenting to the District Council on the subject of repurposing schools.