For­mer MHA weighs in on ef­forts to re­place Bay Roberts school

The Compass - - Editorial -

I read with great in­ter­est the an­nounce­ment in your on­line ar­ti­cle of March 17th, which stated that the Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment was set­ting the wheels in mo­tion to re­place Co­ley’s Point School.

I have been silent, re­gard­ing this mat­ter but enough is enough. Our MHA, Pam Par­sons, since elected wants everyone to be­lieve that she is the only per­son who has ever fought for Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary. That is false, un­true, and in­deed mis­lead­ing.

In the ar­ti­cle Mayor Wood quite rightly points out “this is not just a brand new is­sue. This is­sue has been at the fore­front for the past 15-20 years.” In fact many peo­ple have raised their voices loud and clear in many fo­rums to this is­sue.

My per­sonal in­volve­ment goes back to 2005 rep­re­sent­ing the Town of Bay Roberts at a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion con­cern­ing the clo­sure and re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of schools within the re­gion. In fact, one of the rea­sons I ran in 2007 and again in 2011 was to sup­port the re­place­ment of Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary.

In the ar­ti­cle Ms. Par­sons states no work on the pro­ject has been done up to this point. This is an in­sult to the peo­ple who have worked tire­lessly for nearly 20 years to see the re­place­ment of the school. This in­cludes the pre­vi­ous school coun­cils who did sev­eral pre­sen­ta­tions to gov­ern­ment, the school board, for­mer Min­is­ters of Education, Town of­fi­cials, and for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tors like Ms. Joy Brown, who ad­vo­cated tire­lessly through the years.

If noth­ing was done why did this gov­ern­ment can­cel Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary in Bud­get 2016? Why did they de­fer a de­ci­sion for three years? Did they take all the work and progress and throw it out the win­dow? If noth­ing had been done, if this school was never planned, then there was no need to can­cel or de­fer this school. The fact is a lot has been done; a lot of progress was made be­fore her in­volve­ment.

I could give a his­tory les­son on the is­sue, but I will fo­cus on a time­line from 2013 to present. In mid-sum­mer 2013, school board of­fi­cials came to the town to iden­tify a po­ten­tial site(s) for a new Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary. In late 2013, with a pre­ferred site iden­ti­fied, con­tact was made with the landowner. It was agreed that a land ap­praisal be done to as­sess the value of the land. This process took some time and when the par­ties couldn’t agree a sec­ond ap­praisal was agreed upon. Once again, time passed and the par­ties still couldn’t agree on a sale price. It be­came ob­vi­ous that the par­ties would not agree on a sale price, there­fore Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion and Works, David Brazil, or­dered of­fi­cials to be­gin the ex­pro­pri­a­tion process for the land. This was com­pleted prior to the 2015 elec­tion and monies were al­lo­cated for the land pur­chase.

Dur­ing 2014-15, work be­hind the scenes was pro­gress­ing. The school floor plan was sent to the school ad­min­is­tra­tor for eval­u­a­tion and rec­om­men­da­tion by school staff and school coun­cil. A pre­lim­i­nary de­sign was com­pleted giv­ing in­di­vid­u­als a first chance to see what the school would phys­i­cally look like and of­fi­cials had been on site look­ing at po­ten­tial ac­cess sites to the new school. All this was done.

In clos­ing, I didn’t get my wish to see the phys­i­cal struc­ture started when I was in of­fice, but I will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for its con­struc­tion. I’m proud to say with the help of many peo­ple we were in a place to see it be­come re­al­ity prior to the Lib­er­als form­ing gov­ern­ment. With all this be­ing said, the facts speak for them­selves. It is un­fair to mis­lead peo­ple into be­liev­ing there was noth­ing done on a re­place­ment school for Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary.

I thank you for your time and space.

It is un­fair to mis­lead peo­ple into be­liev­ing there was noth­ing done on a re­place­ment school for Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary.

— Glenn Lit­tle­john writes from Bay Roberts

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