Group rallies to demand speedy construction of north Calgary high school

A group called Advocates for North Calgary High School rallied Sunday at a site selected for the future school, demanding renewed funding and more forward movement on its construction.

The organizer of the rally, which numbered at around 100 people, says the group won't stop lobbying until a high school is built in their community.

The same rally took place last year in March 2018, and protesters hope to stay on top of mind as provincial budget decisions are made.

Among those attending were parents from Harvest Hills, Coventry Hills and Panorama Hills, many of whom have school-aged children who currently have to commute 60 blocks to get to the nearest school.

Terri Trembath/CBC

More than a decade ago, the site, at 12065 Coventry Hills Way N.E., was designated for the future school.

The project has received funding for the design phase and a summer open house was held to showcase its design renderings.

Calgary Board of Education trustee Althea Adams says the CBE expects enrolment to be over capacity by 2023, but that the school's projected construction date will depend on the upcoming provincial budget.

"We know how much it's needed, this is very, very data driven. So we know by the numbers, we know what's coming and we know if we keep continuing on.… So the design funding has happened and we're going along that process," Adams said.

"If it keeps going along and going the way we hope that it does, and it gets its full funding announced, it will open in September 2023 — right in time for this bubble."

Terri Trembath/CBC

The organizer of the rally, David Hartwick, who is also a member of the Northern Hills Community Association, says it's a panicked situation.

He says Ward 3 has now grown to 71,000 people with no public high school, with an additional 40,000 people in communities north of them.

"With the capacity issues the CBE is facing, we might not be busing all the way to Crescent Heights anymore, we could be even going farther than that," said Hartwick.

Hartwick is also concerned that with a change in political leadership, priority funding for this school may not be communicated.

"The changing government, with the priorities they have set with the budget coming, there's always concern it will be wiped," said Hartwick.

"It was wiped out back in 2007 and it could easily be wiped out again."

Terri Trembath/CBC

Currently, the school is sitting at No. 2 on the priority list, which is making some parents like Tamara Keller cautiously optimistic.

"If we get the full construction funding this fall, the hope would be that our oldest would get Grade 12," said Keller. "He'd be able to walk out our back door and go to school right out the back door."

The provincial budget is expected to be released in late October.