Community association chair pitches 'perfect place' for new Saskatoon school
SASKATOON -- Some members of the King George and Pleasant Hill community are holding out hope that Saskatoon Public Schools (SPS) will consider their idea for an alternate school site.
The $29 million, 500-student city centre school project will amalgamate King George, Pleasant Hill and Princess Alexandra Schools.
That alternate site, named Parcel P, is on the land of the former Parrish and Heimbecker plant.
SPS announced this month that two options are in the running; the current Princess Alexandra school site on Avenue H or Optimist Park in the Riversdale neighbourhood.
Adam Pollock lives just west of his preferred location and is the chair of the Pleasant Hill Community Association.
He’s going to be making a presentation at next week’s school division meeting regarding his plan to develop the land on 17th Street and Avenue O - an area he named Parcel P.
Pollock has been working on the plan for months, but has been pushing to have the industrial businesses moved out of the residential neighbourhood for 10 years and that follows 43 years of similar work by others in the community to do the same.
He says using this area is a best fit for everyone involved and should not be overlooked.
“Parcel P is the perfect place for a school. It is the heart of the communities, and no one community will have to walk further than the other. It’s an investment that will be a beacon for all of us,” Pollock told CTV News.
However, SPS said in a statement that they are pursuing site validation studies for two properties and Parcel P is not one of them.
“We will share the test fits with the public later this month and will pursue a public engagement process to gather feedback on them. This will include school families, school staff, Elders, community partners and neighbourhood residents.”
There are issues with the surrounding area bordering the Parcel P site like the lack of sidewalks and two industrial businesses immediately west.
Inland Steel and Shamrock Feeds are still operational, but fixing these issues is part of Pollock’s plan.
He wants to see those two businesses, which bring heavy truck traffic to the corner, relocated to the industrial area south of 11th Street.
Pollock says people in these neighbourhoods are being ignored. He plans to ask the city to spend the money to relocate the two businesses which he estimates would be about $10 million.
He says that’s a small price to pay for the health, wellness and safety of people living there.
“The city reimagines Idylwyld. They reimagine all these projects all over the city and as a result we are being deprived the opportunity to put a school in the heart of our communities,” he said.
St. Mary's Wellness & Education Centre is just a block north of the proposed site and train tracks would separate the two sites.
The land will take about four years to develop completely but is worth it, Pollock says.
He feels the decision is being rushed by the school division which isn’t in the best interest of those in the communities affected and admits he was sad when only two options were finalized.
“It’s disheartening always but it’s hard for people to see what can be when they’re looking at what is so what the school board is seeing right now isn’t ideal, but what it can be in five years could be ideal.”
He says he’s been in consultation with the Parcel P land owner, who tells him the land would be offered up for free for a new school as it is vacant.
SPS plans to have a site decided upon by the end of June and the new school is projected to open for the 2024 school year.