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Board of Education defers land swap decision

Deferral is the name of the game when it comes to making a decision on the  controversial Routley land swap.

At Tuesday night’s Langley Board of Education meeting, trustees voted to put off any decision until they meet with Township council and discuss “a possible resolution.”

The motion to defer came from Trustee Rob McFarlane, who said he hopes a meeting with Township council could take place within a couple of weeks.

On the evening’s agenda was a recommendation that trustees receive a report, which supports the land exchange of the Routley school site for a site in the Yorkson area.

On Monday, Township council lobbed the land swap back into Langley School District’s court, deferring third reading of Focus Architecture’s application to rezone 13.86 acres in the 19800 block of 70 Avenue.

Board Chair Wendy Johnson appeared frustrated as she left the council chamber with McFarlane, after the council decision.

The Routley land, in the 19800 block of 70 Avenue,  is owned by the Township and the Langley School District. The land swap calls for the school site in the Routley neighbourhood to become a park, while adjacent parkland would become a townhouse development.

In return, the school district will get property to build a school in the Yorkson neighbourhood.

On Tuesday night in question period, Routley parents expressed their disappointment and frustration with what one mom called “a ping pong match.”

Several parents asked if they could be part of the discussion the board is going to have with Township council.

“We need to establish a better way to communicate with the Township first,” replied Johnson.

One Routley resident asked what the minimum number of children is for a neighbourhood, before a school is recommended.

“Children living in Routley are being accommodated in schools,” said Johnson.

The parent replied that students in Routley aren’t being accommodated, “they are being shoe-horned.”

Johnson told the residents that a consultant needs to look at all the hard data for the entire Willoughby area “over the next decade” that will paint a better picture of where growth is, and needs are.

At a June 2011 meeting with the board and Township council, parents were told growth has shifted and Yorkson will need more classroom space.

At the meeting, district staff insisted that Routley parents were advised about the change of plans years ago, while the parents maintained that they were never told.

Many Routley residents say they moved to the neighbourhood with the expectation that an elementary school would be built there. The Routley land is four blocks from Langley Meadows Elementary.

— with files from Natasha Jones

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