Glenbrook Parents to School Grimston

Royal City Blogger Niki Hope, who excels at all things educational in her website, has recently posted that the Glenbrook Middle School Parent Advisory Council has passed a resolution that, while focusing on the need for a new High School, also calls for the use of Grimston Park as a school site for a middle school.

While the idea of a school on Grimston has been almost universally reviled by the West End community (see Facebook Page Here) and the need for a middle school is still hotly debated, I don’t personally see why the Glenbrook folks (and fine folks they be, I am sure) would really concern themselves with building a middle school way on the other side of town. Perhaps the Westend folks could suggest the removal of Queens Park in favour of a municipal waste to energy incinerator (you see, I am exaggerating for effect).

The content of the letter is below. I invite all concerned to comment here. I will try to have expounders of the Grimston School topic (for and against) send in comments also.

December 1, 2008

Jim Alkins
Project Director
School District #40
1001 Columbia Street
New Westminster, BC
V3M 1C4

Dear Mr. Alkins:

As the Parents’ Advisory Council (PAC) for Glenbrook Middle School, we are writing to you regarding the school construction public consultation process in our City. After significant discussion at our meeting on November 24, 2008, the PAC passed the following motion:
• urges the construction of the high school move forward as soon as possible:
• supports the idea of building a new middle school on the west side; and
• believes that Grimston Park should be considered as an option for that middle school.

In our view, it is absolutely critical that this initiative – AND PARTICULARLY THE HIGH SCHOOL – move ahead as quickly as possible and NOT be allowed to “go back to the drawing board.” Too much time and money have already been spent and further delays will only continue to compromise the education of all our children.

Yours truly;

Stephen Bruyneel

This Just In….(insert telex noise here)

Eagerly awaiting the last official results of the 2008 New Westminster civic elections, we are pleased to relay that the judicial recount for the position of school trustee has been completed. In a message this afternoon from New Westminster Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Doris Fassbender, the results were announced:

Following a two day judicial recount at the BC Provincial Court, New Westminster Registry, Judge Her Honour Alexander declared the results for the office of School Trustee for the 2008 General Local Election for the City of New Westminster. Brent Atkinson received 3665 votes and Vivian Garcia received 3663 votes. Therefore, Brent Atkinson was declared School Trustee-elect.

As reported here, Vivian Garcia was endorsed by re-elected Mayor Wayne Wright.

Winner, Best Campaign Staff: Kirpaul Kaur

Taking a (web)page straight from the David Plouffe hand book, this local school trustee candidate has been kicking it Obama style by launching a polite and engaging army of telephone campaign staff on the voters of New Westminster.

Oh yes, after getting a call a week ago, my wife asked some questions about the “School on Grimston Park” controversy (against btw) and as a follow up, she asked further questions that the volunteer simply could not answer on Ms. Kaur’s behalf. “May I take your information and Kirpaul can get back to you?” Why Yes! Lets do that! One day later, Kirpaul Kaur herself called in, eager to help answer a voter’s questions and assist the democratic process (get that vote!). Almost 40 minutes later, we were satisfied that we had been talking to a genuine, honest and thoughtful candidate.

While in a recent article in the Record, she states that a third middle school was a priority, Kirpaul (and all of the candidates) submitted their brief blurbs before the Grimston Park Blowup. Since that time, many candidates have learned, like the citizens of the West End, of the details behind the school building options. She stated that she wanted to lead and direct a process that would solicit options from stakeholders and the community, synthesise them down to a manageable format and present them for deliberation to the public. We need some schools built but which ones do we need, how do we want to organise them? She also advocated a level of transparency and informatuon sharing that can only be achieved through the internet.

So then this evening, not 15 minutes ago dear readers, I was called by another Kaur-ista. “Hello, I am calling in support of Kirpaul Kaur”. After a brief an ironic conversation, my call waiting started to beep. I ended the Kaurnversation and picked up the other line: ” Hello I am calling on behalf of Kirpaul Kaur!”

Woah, if that is not someone who can get things done… I don’t know what is.

ENDORSED: Kirpaul Kaur by the two voters at Tenth to the Fraser.

New middle school could be built on parkland

And then there were none...

A small geographical footprint is both one of New Westminster’s charms and one of its challenges. Density is inevitable. Sprawl is not an option. This is great, if you’re assessing public transit feasibility or walkability within the city. It means, however, that options are limited when it comes to new development.  

New West has long known it needs new schools. The current high school is in need of upgrades and isn’t adequate to house all of the city’s kids. The original idea was to rebuild on the same site. The catch? Our secondary school is built on an indian burial ground
It’s like something out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I keep expecting some kind of monstrous hell-beast to emerge from a Hellmouth deep in the bowels of the school, threatening to bet all the city’s kittens at poker and cursing the local mallrats with syphilis
So, we need new schools. And we can’t build them on the site where NWSS has stood for 60 years in case executed Tsilhqot’in warrior Chief Ahan was buried there 144 years ago. 
Something has to give. And that ‘something’ seems likely to be park land. Three parks are currently being considered for a new middle school site, all in the West End:
While residents would lose some park space (and potentially see more traffic), we have it on good authority that if land for the school is carved out of a park like Grimston, the site would also see upgrades that could offset the loss. 
In any case, this is all still tentative. The city is gathering feedback now, so if you want to learn more about the ghost of Chief Ahan or share your opinions on the new school site, there are some important dates to know (all events at the NWSS library):
  • Oct. 25 (11am, 1 & 3pm)  & Oct. 30 (7pm) (just in time for Halloween!) – Historical research on the cemetery at NWSS. 
  • Nov. 1 (11am, 1 & 3pm) & Nov. 4 (7:30pm) – Public info sessions on middle school options.