New West Park Middle School Approved by Planning Commission

New West Park Middle School Approved by Planning Commission

August 30, 2017

rdnewsNOW

After hearing some concerns from residents, the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) has voted unanimously to go ahead with development of a new West Park Middle School.

The school will feature 26 classrooms and house 500 students in grades 6 through 8. The building will also have exterior bathrooms for use by public during events hosted at the site.

The building will consist of upwards of three levels in spots, as well as four modular classrooms on the north of the building. The new school will be located directly to the west of the current parking lot.

The school is scheduled for completion in May 2019 with students attending in September of that year. Demolition of the current school will commence shortly thereafter.

Concerns were raised during the consultation process about the removal of a school bus layby initially proposed on the west side, as well as the potential removal of the baseball diamonds along 32 Street.

These concerns were addressed during Wednesday’s MPC by Martin Kvapil, Senior Development Officer, and George Berry, CEO, both with Berry Architecture and Associates.

The layby is being replaced by a full bus loop which Kvapil said will fit the 11 buses typical to West Park Middle School. This number accounts for seven full-size buses and the four smaller buses used to transport nearly 85 per cent of students attending the school. The bus loop will also house 67 parking stalls, well over the required number of 26 as per City bylaws.

Baseball diamonds will remain in place on the site and future development of two baseball diamonds to the north of the new school will come at a later date.

One resident present at the meeting, Margaret Arnold, said she has some concerns regarding the plans to “leave alone” the parking lot on the West side of the site just off of 57th Avenue.

“I have to say that I’m very disappointed that it’s going to be left as is. I was excited when students were going to be coming by bus on that side. I do not love that the students of RDC are parking freely [here],” said Arnold.

She expressed concern over the dust stirred up by vehicles in the parking lot during the summer months and said she would love to see something done with the parking lot in time.

“They use the parking lot first off and then when that fills up they are parked on both sides of 57 Avenue and then you have buses. Sometimes on the [City transit] bus route, one bus will have to stop to let the other one get around.”

There is a lot of excitement, however, regarding the new school as it presents a very modern concept and will be an incredible revitalization in the community, according to MPC member and City Councillor Dianne Wyntjes.

Wyntjes said the need for redevelopment of the school is inherent because of the age of West Park Middle School. Berry spoke to this adding that the current school is showing its age and seeing some structural shortcomings in recent years.

Through community consultation, Wyntjes said it was identified that the residents in the community don’t want to see the congestion on 55th Avenue and that they are appreciative for the developers efforts to curb those issues.

Consultation also indentified the need for public, accessible washrooms. Wyntjes said it’s great to see that the schools are being put to best use by allowing and encouraging after-hours usage.

“Over the years we’ve seen when school hours were over you closed the doors, now with the investment of our community tax dollars that are there it’s about using those spaces after hours. We heard today the opportunity to have festival space and washroom space as opposed to having to bring in washrooms,” said Wyntjes.

She added that with the thought of the developer into the future use of the site that the green and garden spaces are great additions. “It’s going to be a great community amenity.”

The school will feature a classroom on the lower level with access to the outside where students can grow their own garden as well.

“I think our society is changing and there’s that whole piece about growing your own food and knowing where your food comes from. It’s a real potential for the kids to be engaged in that to being healthy. When we have that land let us use that land for positive,” said Wyntjes.

The plans will now go ahead to council for approval at a future meeting.