New Bres­lau school is WRDSB’s top pri­or­ity in the town­ships

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - FAISAL ALI

AN OVERVIEW OF PUB­LIC schools in the Water­loo Re­gion sees the need for a new el­e­men­tary school in Bres­lau to keep up with the rapidly growing com­mu­nity, while sev­eral other schools were iden­ti­fied for ex­pan­sions.

In a long term ac­com­mo­da­tion plan (LTAP) doc­u­ment that was ap­proved in prin­ci­ple by Water­loo Re­gion District School Board (WRDSB) trus­tees, the up­com­ing sub­di­vi­sion of Bres­lau-Hopewell Creek (Thomas­field) was listed as a pri­or­ity lo­ca­tion for a new school build­ing. How­ever, how much the province, now un­der new man­age­ment, agrees with that as­sess­ment will ul­ti­mately de­ter­mine when the project is funded.

The LTAP es­sen­tially lists each school in the re­gion, and com­pares their stu­dent pop­u­la­tions with the school’s max ca­pac­i­ties to help de­cide where new schools and class­rooms are needed.

Lau­ren Agar, man­ager of plan­ning with the WRDSB, ex­plains that any­time a new sub­di­vi­sion is

cau­cus meet­ing will be held early next week. We’ll be out­lin­ing a lit­tle bit more pol­icy pro­ce­dure over that point. We also have a cou­ple of ori­en­ta­tion ses­sions com­ing that are be­ing put on by the leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly, just to get new MPPs fa­mil­iar­ized with the process, and of course a bit of a re­fresher for the stal­warts that have been there for a while.”

Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters, how­ever, is the lack of a party plat­form, which was tor­pe­doed af­ter the res­ig­na­tion of the for­mer party leader Pa­trick Brown in Jan­uary. The sud­den de­par­ture of Brown, fol­lowed by the equally tu­mul­tuous lead­er­ship race from which Doug Ford emerged, has left the party mak­ing changes on the fly.

Prom­ises have been made through­out the cam­paign, from low­er­ing taxes and balancing the books, to end­ing hall­way medicine and fund­ing a GO Train ser­vice be­tween Water­loo and Toronto. But where the money will ac­tu­ally come from re­mains to be seen.

“I think that’s the big ques­tion. That’s the big ques­tion that we don’t have an an­swer to be­cause we don’t know how some of these prom­ises will be paid for,” noted Anna Es­sel­ment, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at the Univer­sity of Water­loo.

With the Ford cam­paign’s prom­ise to scour the province’s ledgers for “ef­fi­cien­cies,” cal­cu­lat­ing costs and get­ting a han­dle on the province’s fi­nances may be amongst the PC gov­ern­ment’s first pri­or­i­ties, she sug­gests.

“I would think be­cause one of their main ideas was to go through the books, the pro­vin­cial books, line by line to discover ef­fi­cien­cies. I imag­ine that the cab­i­net would prob­a­bly be spend­ing July and Au­gust do­ing that process,” said Es­sel­ment.

Barry Kay, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at Wil­frid Lau­rier Univer­sity, points out that Ford’s “ef­fi­cien­cies” will be hard to come by, how­ever.

“It’s go­ing to be very chal­leng­ing for him to find ef­fi­cien­cies in part be­cause the debt is go­ing to be much big­ger than the Lib­er­als let on,” he noted.

“In gen­eral he wants to cut taxes, he wants to cut spend­ing, but he doesn’t want to ba­si­cally ac­knowl­edge that he’s do­ing it. He sug­gested that no­body is go­ing to be fired, that all the pro­grams are go­ing to run just as ef­fi­ciently, he thinks he’s just go­ing to find ‘ef­fi­cien­cies’... which will re­duce spend­ing by four per cent,” said Kay.

“But he sug­gested noth­ing spe­cific about how he’s go­ing to do it.”

For first-time politi­cian Harris, the pri­or­ity now would be to pre­pare his staff, his con­stituency of­fice and him­self for the inner-work­ings of Queen’s Park. The po­ten­tial for a cab­i­net po­si­tion is some­thing he’s open to.

“I’ll be very hon­est with you, it’s up to the party,” said Harris. “They’re the ones that will de­cide. We’ve got 76 great MPPs and we’ve got a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence to draw on in many dif­fer­ent sec­tors, and I look for­ward to play­ing what­ever role I can in our new gov­ern­ment.”

While a rookie to the leg­is­la­ture, Harris is no stranger to Queen’s Park. Be­ing the son of for­mer premier Mike Harris., the younger Harris says that he hopes he’ll be able to con­tinue to draw on his fa­ther’s ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We’ve got to ac­com­plish over the next, we’ll say, year or two ... I think nav­i­gat­ing the debt struc­ture and re­ally get­ting a han­dle on the books at Queen’s Park is go­ing to be top of mind for our gov­ern­ment,” he said.

“We knocked on thou­sands and thou­sands of doors over the last few weeks, and hy­dro con­cerns were prob­a­bly the num­berone thing that peo­ple brought for­ward. And just the gen­eral af­ford­abil­ity of liv­ing in On­tario. Mak­ing sure that we have good jobs here, bring­ing back man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs to Water­loo Re­gion is go­ing to be some­thing that I’m hop­ing that I can re­ally help with. And get­ting that two-way all-day GO train ser­vice in place.”

Then there’s the ques­tion of where to live as Harris, a 33-year-old fa­ther of five liv­ing just out­side the rid­ing’s bound­aries, is look­ing to move into the neigh­bour­hood.

“Ab­so­lutely, it’s go­ing to be some­thing that will hap­pen in short or­der for us. We’ve al­ready started look­ing at houses,” he said.

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