Montreal Gazette

Pearson board still waiting for spot for school

Constructi­on has been on hold for several years; alternativ­e plans still awaiting ministry approval


The Lester B. Pearson School Board has been waiting for several years for the city of VaudreuilD­orion to find it a plot of land where it could build an Englishlan­guage school, said the board’s assistant general manager Carol Heffernan. Several years ago, the city proposed a site, but the board rejected it because planners were turned off by the smell of the nearby sewer treatment plant.

While the French-language school board has decided to build on its own land, the English-language board doesn’t have that luxury.

While a new school is on hold for now, alternativ­e plans to make room for the region’s growing population are also being delayed, Heffernan said.

The board has been waiting for a go-ahead from the ministry of education for a 10-classroom extension to St. Patrick’s Elementary in Pincourt. The board plans to half the size of the school’s double gym to make room for the classes.

“That would bring it to 450 stu- dents, which would be a great size for an elementary school,” Heffernan said.

She said it would take about a year to complete the extension of the school, and the project is already delayed.

“We had hoped to find out about that by January, and to go to tender in April,” she said. “We want to start the work during the summer.”

The school board isn’t alone, Heffernan said. Most school boards seem to have projects stalled waiting for a ministry green light.

The board is also looking to see if it can enlarge Pierre Elliott Trudeau elementary school in Vaudreuil-Dorion as a temporary measure.

Heffernan said it has been diffi- cult to meet the needs of the growing Off-Island region, especially since the board has to make lastminute adjustment­s every year.

“Every year that there are 50 or 60 students (in the Off-Island) that we don’t know where they are going, because they haven’t bought their houses yet, and we have to plan for them.”

While the board is trying to alleviate its already overcrowde­d schools off-island, it’s also trying to plan for the future.

In the next five years, the board hopes to build an elementary school in Coteau du Lac, which would accommodat­e 450 students. Currently, there are less than 200 students in that town enrolled in Pearson schools, but the board expects that population to grow because of new developmen­ts planned for the area, like the CP intermodal station.

“We’ve met with the town and have asked for some land for a school that we could even share with the French board. We could have a shared soccer field, and we could split some costs.

Heffernan said that file is also stalled, because the town of Coteau has asked for the ministry of education to purchase a plot of land. The ministry has responded that this is a responsibi­lity of the municipali­ty.

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