Monday, 26 June 2006

The battle has ended

and I WON!

I got into the City’s final meeting before summer hiatus today and did a deputation on behalf of the residents of my street against the placement of the portables behind the school.

Here is my presentation:

Thank you for taking the time to hear my concerns on such short notice. Please forgive my ignorance if I address any of you incorrectly as this is the first time I have stood before Council.

I am here today as a concerned parent and resident of *subdivision name* to discuss the portables that are to be placed at St. * Catholic School for the 2006/2007 school year. This is a sincere concern not only for the safety of the students at St. *, but the children of *subdivision name*.

On June 1st, my sons brought home a newsletter from St. * School, advising that two portables were being placed on the school property. To my knowledge, no public hearings have been held to discuss these portables.

After investigating the matter on my own, I determined that the portables were to be placed behind the school (on the east side). Based on present conditions and the required 49 foot setback from the property line as advised by The City Planning Department, the amount of area remaining, not considering the size of the portables themselves, would be a mere 78 feet, severely encroaching on the primary grades play area, to accommodate grades one to six (approximately 550 children of the school population). As you can see from the photos I have provided, the play area at St. * is already much too small for the number of children who attend the school.

After making enquiries with the Zoning Department, I was advised that the Site Plan Agreement must be amended if the portables are to be placed anywhere but on the east side of the school.

I feel that the current plans for portable placement is unsafe for students and children in *Subdivision Name*, for reasons which I will explain in a moment. I would like to see the portables placed on the north side of the school, which I feel will alleviate many of the safety concerns I have.

On the north side of the school is an unused piece of land. The original plan for this area was to have a soccer field, but the poor drainage of this area has rendered it unusable to the children for much of the school year. In the winter, it is treacherous due to ice and snow. In the spring, it is a mud pit. The children use this area for very few days of the school year and are told almost daily over the PA system to stay off the grass. This is where I propose that the portables be placed. There is visibility to this area from * Avenue, which allows police patrolling the area to see behind them (the security gates in the school parking lot do not allow police to patrol the back (east side) of the school. There is much better lighting, the security cameras already installed at St. * will capture the portables, the distance from the portable to the school is 40 feet, without taking up any of the existing asphalt used by the children, the students using these portables enter the school from the northern doors, so the portables are closest to their entry to the school.

My biggest concern is the potential for crime behind these portables. Placing them on the north side allows for lighting and visibility from all sides. We would be utilizing the cameras already in place, so there would be no additional cost to the School Board to place the portables here.

My dilemma is that there are three days left in the school year. The Committee of the Whole does not meet again until September 5th, 2006, the first day of the 2006/2007 school year, and the first day on which students will be using these portables. I ask the City for it’s help in getting these portables relocated before they are put in place. Once they are placed, I was advised that the cost for relocation is $10,000. I would like to be proactive and I need your help to do this.

Thank you.

I rocked. I truly rocked. I thought I was going to either pass out or vomit from the nerves prior, but I *DID* it!

My Councillor put forth a motion that a member of the School Board, a member of the City and me, as representative for the citizens, meet to find a mutually satisfactory place for the portables!!! The motion was seconded by TWO other Councillors and I could tell, the whole time I was talking, they were ALL on board.

I am so very proud of myself. I faced my fear and opened myself up to complete humiliation had they asked me any tough questions about set backs, etc. and I did it.


I spoke with the Principal and the Superintendant of Schools right after the deputation and we are meeting on Wednesday morning to work it all out. The Principal even suggested that because I did such a good job on this, I should apply for the President of the Rate Payers Association this year….hmmmmm….maybe I will!

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