Fate of controversial francophone school will be decided Monday

The fate of a proposed francophone school in Red Deer’s southside Aspen Ridge neighbourhood will be decided on Monday.

The fate of a proposed francophone school in Red Deer’s southside Aspen Ridge neighbourhood will be decided on Monday.

Red Deer city council will decide whether to approve second and final readings to amend the East Hill Major Area Structure Plan and the Aspen Ridge Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan.

If they give the OK, then zoning would change for a school site along Addington Drive so it becomes a pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 francophone school instead of a public kindergarten to Grade 8 school.

City planners have recommended rezoning, saying that residents’ concerns about the school can be properly addressed through bylaws and development permits.

Opposition in the neighbourhood has been strong, particularly over the high school component.

Worries have ranged from traffic and parking hassles to excess litter and increased loitering and crime.

A public hearing held on March 5 included parents and current and former students of École La Prairie, a kindergarten to Grade 10 school, who vowed that the school would be a good addition to the area.

Greater North Central Francophone Education Region No. 2 would like to build a school for up to 300 students. Of those, school officials predict 70 students would be of the Grade 7 to 12 level.

The proposed school would replace the aging École La Prairie school located on the South Hill.

Some residents at the hearing were unhappy to hear that Alberta Infrastructure was moving forward with its plans to build three P3 (public private partnerships) school projects in Red Deer, with the premise that the francophone school would be approved for rezoning. The schools will open for the 2014-15 school year.

“We left the meeting feeling council was now between a rock and a hard place . . . approve the rezoning application or jeopardize the other P3 projects,” wrote Rick and Cyndi Ramsfield in a letter to council.

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