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Township delays land swap bylaw

Is there space on 8.19 acres for a school and a park?

Has the Langley School District correctly calculated the number of school-aged children in the Routley neighbourhood of Willoughby?

Does the Township have legal recourse when the school district changes its mind over the location of a school that is already documented in municipal planning documents?

These, and the concerns raised by residents at a public hearing two weeks ago, will form part of a staff report to Township council. 

Council took the action on Monday, delaying third reading of a bylaw rezoning land at 198A Street and 70 Avenue in Routley.

The rezoning application involves a land swap that would see the Routley school site traded for land in the Yorkson neighbourhood. 

The deal would give the district another school site in rapidly-growing Yorkson; the Routley site would be developed with 103 townhouses, adjacent to a public park.

Routley parents are adamant that a school be built in their neighbourhood, some saying that they had been assured by realtors that a school was indeed in the plans. 

The school district says that its needs have changed: the population of school children is concentrating around Yorkson, less so in Routley which, Township planners say, is 90 per cent built. 

The Yorkson school site that would replace the one in Routley is about four blocks from Lynn Fripps Elementary, which is currently under construction.

While the student population is diminishing or only just holding steady in the rest of Langley, many Willoughby schools are overcrowded.

But the land swap is not the answer, Councillor Kim Richter suggested. 

“You can’t rob from Routley to give to another part of the neighbourhood,” she said.

Councillor Bob Long said that the property size should provide “plenty of room” for a school and park, and Councillor Mel Kositsky said that part of the problem lay with the provincial government “which keeps changing the rules.”

He noted that it is now the Treasury Board, not the Ministry of Education, which controls the purse strings for new schools.

 

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