The Gabriola Local Trust Committee will review Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ school site acquisition charge in July, according to Islands Trust staff.
The Regional District of Nanaimo board and other local governments within the school district’s catchment have already adopted bylaws that will allow the charge, which the school district can use for the purchase of land, to be collected on two or more units at the time of subdivision approval. The Local Government Act authorizes a local government to collect the charge on a school district’s behalf for four our more units; however, NLPS requested it apply to two or more saying its long-range planning data suggests a lot subdivided to included two or more single family homes will likely have households with school-aged children.
An Islands Trust staff report on the school site acquisition charge bylaw will be presented at the July 28 Gabriola Local Trust Committee meeting for consideration. The RDN’s bylaw currently only applies to Electoral Areas A and C. Should the Gabriola Local Trust Committee support the bylaw, it would be amended to include Area B, according to an RDN staff report. The charge does not apply to a secondary suite associated with a dwelling unit. It is also not applicable if an existing building is demolished and replaced with a new building that contains the same number of, or fewer, units.
The province requires a school district to have a school site acquisition charge in place if it wants to acquire new land. The charge can only be applied to 35 per cent of the value of the land to be purchased; the Ministry of Education pays the remainder.
NLPS says growth projections indicate it will need to purchase land in the next decade, particularly in the north end of the district. The school district intends to review the need for the charge every five years.
“Our school district continues to experience increasing enrolment,” NLPS board chair Charlene McKay said via a May press release. “Nanaimo is one of the top five fastest growing cities in Canada. With more students coming we need to make sure we have space for them in the classroom.”
In Electoral Area B, the percentage of children ages 0-14 remained relatively stable between the 2016 and 2021 Census years, dropping 0.8 per cent.
The school district has created two zones to apply the charge, north and south, the latter covering Ladysmith and the Cowichan Valley Regional District portion of its catchment.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder