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Councillors Say Consultants Underestimating Future Growth
(Thursday, March 6/08)-- Two peninsular Halifax Councillors say consultants for the Halifax Regional School Board are seriously underestimating future population growth forecasts in their recommendations regarding school closures.
North End Councillor Patrick Murphy and Downtown Halifax Councillor Dawn Sloane said today the consultants seem to be ignoring the HRM Regional Plan and HRMBy Design project that place strong emphasis on local neighbourhoods and the need for greater housing density on peninsular Halifax. Projected population growth figures for peninsular Halifax show this means new generations of students will require school facilities.
Maureen O'Shaughnessy, lead consultant for CS & P Architects of Toronto, has stated that
St. Joseph's-Alexander MacKay School and Joseph Howe School should be considered for closure.
Councillor Murphy said closure of St. Joseph's-Alexander MacKay in his District would not only mean considerable travel distances for school children impacted by the move, but would destroy the sense of community in these two areas.
The Councillor said the consultant's examining the demands for new facilities for the Halifax Regional School Board should provide more opportunities for residents and parents in the school areas to voice their opinion and comments on the recommendations.
"St. Joseph's-Alexander MacKay School is an important focal point in the community. There has been considerable growth in District 11 during the past few years, as well as an active turnover in existing real estate, with many new families settling in the area and looking for schools and other amenities to provide safe and healthy neighbourhoods to raise their children. The schools serve as a meetings place for local residents to come and discuss their issues," he said.
Councillor Sloane said there is some concern among members of Regional Council that the School Board's consultants are using future population projections that are much different from those developed through the HRM Regional Planning process. As of December 2006, District 12 had over 500 new dwelling units under construction, plus over 480 dwelling units that were either approved, in the application stage or under appeal. So about 1000 new dwelling units were in the pipe for District 12 as of that time.
"This must be addressed and the consultant's must realize the Joseph Howe School community is going to have a lot more to say about what they are recommending," she said
Councillor Patrick Murphy
District 11 (Halifax North End)
Councillor Dawn Sloane
District 12 (Downtown Halifax)