Development of new consolidated school to go ahead in East Chezzetcook

·3 min read
The new school, a consolidation of Gaetz Brook Junior High and Eastern Shore District High, will serve about 800 students in the area. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC - image credit)
The new school, a consolidation of Gaetz Brook Junior High and Eastern Shore District High, will serve about 800 students in the area. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC - image credit)

After initially backtracking, the provincial government is moving ahead with plans to build a consolidated school in an East Chezzetcook, N.S., industrial park.

The site was announced on February 2. Six weeks later, the province set aside the decision to allow for public feedback.

On June 3, the province announced it would be going ahead with the proposed site.

Education Minister Derek Mombourquette said he "really appreciates" the feedback the department received from more than 900 people in the community. He said the majority of them were in favour of the East Chezzetcook location.

"I'm happy to have come to a decision because this has been a long time coming for them," he said.

The new school, a merger of Gaetz Brook Junior High and Eastern Shore District High, will serve about 800 students.

The announcement is welcome news for Jean McKenna, chair of the Community Campus Vision Association. The group has been pushing for a replacement school for the last seven years.

Jean McKenna is part of a group that has been pushing for a new school in the area for years.
Jean McKenna is part of a group that has been pushing for a new school in the area for years.(Submitted by Jean McKenna)

While they never promoted any particular location for the new school, McKenna said the industrial park on Motts Drive is "ideal."

"I'm just very glad this is finished. We have nagged the government, our local MLA, the various ministers of education ... I'm just so glad they managed to put this together, sometimes against a pretty strong tide," she said.

Some people who live in the area took issue with the process to choose a site.

They took matters to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on March 10 seeking a judicial review of the decision of Zach Churchill, the education minister at the time, to locate the school at the industrial park site.

When the province announced it would set aside the decision to allow for public engagement, the lawyer who filed the court documents, Jamie Simpson, said the review might not proceed.

Simpson has since asked to withdraw from the case and is no longer involved.

The three applicants of the judicial review have not responded to CBC's requests for comment.

3 locations considered

Three locations for the new school were considered. The other two were the current sites of Eastern Shore District High and Gaetz Brook Junior High.

David Hendsbee, the municipal councillor for the area, said more locations should have been considered as part of the public process. He said limited choices effectively determined the outcome.

"They limited the potential for the communities that could be served by this new school," he said.

Hendsbee said he made several suggestions of other sites, but they weren't considered.

David Hendsbee represents the area on HRM council.
David Hendsbee represents the area on HRM council.(Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"An industrial park, in my opinion, is not an appropriate place [for a school]. It's an isolated area, it has no connectivity to the community," he said.

But for McKenna, whose grandchildren will eventually attend the new school, the industrial park is full of untapped potential.

"It's a big, big piece of land, it's undeveloped ... There's room for other possible functions and activities and structures that would work co-operatively with the school," she said.

Potential for future growth was a part of site selection process. Mombourquette said it was something that came up frequently in community feedback.

There's no timeline yet for breaking ground on the school.

MORE TOP STORIES

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting