Halifax Mayor Mike Savage will write a letter to Education Minister Zach Churchill questioning the provincial government’s decision to build a new school for the Eastern Shore in an industrial park.
The provincial government, in a news release last Tuesday, Feb. 2, “confirmed a decision by Halifax Regional Centre for Education to consolidate Gaetz Brook Junior High and Eastern Shore District High School into one building following an extensive consultation process.”
“The new school will be built on industrial land in East Chezzetcook, which will allow for future development in the area including a community hub of recreational services,” the news release said.
That land is the Eastern Shore Industrial Park — about 6 km from Gaetz Brook Junior High and 10 km from Eastern Shore District High.
The provincial government announced in 2018 it was planning a new school for the area. In the fall, HRCE consulted Eastern Shore residents, and in a report dated Dec. 15, 2020, it recommended merging the two schools, creating one serving grades 7 to 12.
“Above all else, it is clear that there is support for the consolidation of Eastern Shore District High School and Gaetz Brook Junior High School in the new school capital project,” the report says.
The report makes no recommendation on a location.
David Hendsbee, councillor for Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore, said that while the community may support the idea of one school, it doesn’t support the idea of using industrial land.
“I believe that the province has made a very erroneous mistake here trying to place a piece of significant social infrastructure such as a new school in an isolated industrial park off East Chezzetcook Road,” Hendsbee said.
“There’s no connectivity to any community there … I just find it very frustrating and the community is frustrated. I think the community would rather see a fair and transparent process that would see the siting locations evaluated and shown the pros and cons of each site. That did not occur in this whole process.”
Hendsbee said there should be a debate about whether the new school stays in the Musquodoboit Harbour area, the traditional hub for services in the area, or moves to the Porter’s Lake area, where there’s now a higher population.
Coun. Waye Mason said everyone agrees the school shouldn’t be in an industrial area with nowhere to walk or shop.
“It’s a classic political decision that serves neither community but makes it so no one has to make a hard choice and have one win against the other,” he said.
Hendsbee’s brought a motion to council asking Savage to write a letter to Churchill, “to reconsider the proposed location of the new consolidated Junior High/High School for the Eastern Shore and to further consult with HRM and the public on other potential location(s) that better align with HRM’s objective to plan and build healthy, livable and sustainable communities.”
The motion passed unanimously.
Council asks for report on restoring Sir Sandford Fleming Cottage
Reprieve may be on the way for the dilapidated heritage property in Sir Sandford Fleming Park in Armdale.
During Tuesday’s meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of a motion from Coun. Shawn Cleary for a staff report “on developing a plan to restore and preserve Sir Sandford Fleming Cottage, a registered heritage property owned by the municipality and situated in Sir Sandford Fleming Park.”
Cleary also brought a petition to council from Friends of Sir Sandford Fleming Park, with more than 1,500 signatures.
Philip Moscovitch spoke to that group about the issue for the Examiner last month:
Built in the 1870s, it’s a relatively unassuming place. And John Macmanus, chair of the Friends of Sir Sandford Fleming Park, thinks that may be one of the reasons it’s fallen into disrepair.
“Here we have a little cottage. It’s buried in the park, not that visible. Who cares about it?” he said in an interview.
Macmanus and the members of his organization care. And he’s hoping council does too — at least enough to stabilize the cottage and prevent it from falling into further disrepair. The city owns the building, and it has been a municipally registered heritage property since 1985.
There’s lots more on the building and how it got this bad at the link above.
Indoor skate park gets rolling
Another petition and another motion to council on Tuesday could see the city build its first indoor skate park.
Coun. Waye Mason brought a petition to council, with 5,579 signatures, in support of an indoor skate park. He then brought forward a motion for a staff report “to identify options for considering an indoor skate park space as a standalone project or as part of a future recreation centre construction.”
As Talia Meade reported for the Signal in December, “Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada without an indoor skatepark and Tayvon Clarke is trying to change that.”
Mason’s motion passed unanimously.
Extra support for a park at Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes
Councillors voted on Tuesday to again pledge their support for a municipal park in the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area.
Coun. Pam Lovelace, who represents the Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets district, brought a motion to council asking for a staff report to:
1. Reaffirm council’s commitment to the BMBCL (Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes) park
2. Acknowledge the new NSNT (Nova Scotia Nature Trust) connector as now formally part of the park
3. Confirm the correct name of the park to Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Regional Wilderness Park.
In August, council passed a motion from former councillor Richard Zurawski seeking a similar report on the boundary. As the Examiner reported back then:
Councillors want a bigger park boundary for Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes, but like novice hikers trying to make their way into the back country, they had a hard time finding a path to getting it done.
See that story for a detailed look at the various maps outlining the proposed park, and their many interpretations.
In response to Lovelace’s motion on Tuesday, chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé told council it wouldn’t result in any extra reports. Rather, staff would just add Lovelace’s concerns to reports pending based on numerous other motions related to the park.
It passed unanimously.