City council will be providing a message of hearty support to the Agricultural Land Commission regarding the plan to turn the former South Canoe Elementary School into an Outdoor Learning School.
The school, at 5970 10th Ave. SE, is completely within the Agricultural Land Reserve. The 2.06 hectare (5.10 acre) property began use as an elementary school in 1956 and shut down in 2003. It has been zoned P3 institutional since at least 1972, according to a city staff report.
Because school use was discontinued in 2003, any non-farm use must go to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval.
In 2016, when the city was eyeing the property for a public works yard, an application was sent to the ALC, which was turned down.
At the city’s Feb. 5 planning meeting, council members present voiced strong support for the latest application.
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Coun. Alan Harrison, who is no longer a school district employee so can now participate in council discussions involving the school district without a conflict of interest, asked planning staff if the city can provide varying degrees of support to applications to the ALC.
“Some we pass on to the ALC because we’re unsure, or are wanting their opinion… This application, I’m very much in support of, especially given it was already used as a school,” Harrison explained.
He was told council’s support could be included in a resolution to the commission.
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Carl Cooper, director of elementary instruction with the school district, was present and Harrison asked him if any farming-type activities would take place. Cooper said a garden would be grown the first year and he expects some small farming activities will take place in the long term.
Harrison proposed an amendment to the resolution to the ALC, which states the city strongly supports the school district’s application because: the property was formerly used as a school, it will be an outdoor learning centre, and an agricultural component will be included in the students’ education.
At council’s Feb. 13 meeting, one more reason for support was added at Coun. Kevin Flynn’s suggestion. He said the outdoor school will be of significant value to the community, to both its educational and social fabric. Flynn also encouraged those who opposed the city’s works yard application to send letters of support for this one to the ALC.
Coun. Tim Lavery said he’d like to see the city and school district work together with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on the intersection of Highway 97B and 10th Avenue SE as soon as possible, while Coun. Chad Eliason said he’d like to see the school district and city work more closely together.
“I would like to see us more interactive and collaborative on how they are planning for the community so our staff and their staff can truly work together.”