LBPSB Off island new school woes continue

LBPSB accepts Ste. Angélique site

by Andrea Richer, Hudson/StLazare Gazette

ST. LAZARE – The Lester B. Pearson School Board has accepted the offer of a building lot at the southwest corner of Pine Ridge and St. Angèlique for the construction of a long-awaited $8.4 million English elementary school.
But mayor Paul Carzoli warns the project depends on rezoning the land from residential to institutional and residents have voiced their opposition in the past.
Carzoli was scheduled to meet with LBPSB chairman Marcus Tabachnick yesterday morning to discuss a zoning change for the lot opposite 307 Ste. Angèlique.
Lorraine-Baron Inc. general manager Michael Laventure confirmed the LBPSB has agreed in principle to purchase the 250,000-square-foot parcel of land for $1, ending a search that began with the school’s announcement last September.
“That’s correct, we have an agreement in principal,” said Laventure. “If the town accepts it, we have committed ourselves to giving the land for one dollar to the Lester B. Pearson School Board.”
He said he’s offered the land to the town many times. “They did nothing, so in frustration I offered it to the school commission,” Laventure added.
Lorraine-Baron president Ivor McLeod said the site was being offered to the LBPSB as a means of jump-starting a proposed residential subdivision between Pine Ridge and du Domaine. As originally configured, the Saddlewoods project would have seen construction of some 220 homes on 20,000-square-foot lots, but stricter environmental standards have reduced it by nearly two-thirds.
“Basically it starts…Saddlewoods [with] 79 lots,” said McLeod. “We’ve been working for three years to try and get the project approved and this may be the stimulus that it needs.”
Carzoli has said repeatedly that the rezoning doesn’t stand a chance of being approved by a majority of neighbourhood residents, many of whom enjoy riding out of their farmettes onto an extensive equestrian trail network.
“If they want to go through the whole mechanism just to be turned down, it’s up to them,” said Carzoli.
Laventure counters by saying there’s no reason for people to vote against the rezoning. “We’ve owned that property since 1988some of the farmettes that are there now have come after us, well after,” he told the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette.
“I don’t see why everybody is up in arms about it,” he added. “It’s basically a not-in-my-backyard syndrome.”
Announced last fall, the new school would have 19 classrooms for an enrolment of some 450 primary-school students. At the time, Tabachnick expressed a preference for a location in the western end of Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC to serve the growing enrolment from Les Cèdres to the Ontario border.
But the St. Lazare location doesn’t please Vaudreuil-Dorion parents who see their kids now being bused westward instead of east.
Roch Gamache, president of the Parent/Teacher Association at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School and a leading figure in the campaign for a new off-island elementary school, demanded how the new location prevents students from Vaudreuil-Dorion and Ile Perrot from being bused.
Gamache feels the LBPSB hasn’t explored other options, including a site in Pincourt and a third option being offered by Vaudreuil-Dorion.
Vaudreuil-Dorion mayor Guy Pilon confirmed Friday the board has yet to respond to the town’s latest offer of a site.
“They are accountable to demonstrate that there were no other options available,” said Gamache. “How do they anticipate working this in such a matter that it will alleviate the situation in Vaudreuil?”
St. Lazare parent Armando Jardini is concerned the site is inconvenient for many parents.
“From this parent’s perspective and from several other parents that I’ve been speaking with, we don’t think it’s strategically belongs there. It’s too far out,” said Jardini. “If you were to build it there, you run the risk of not being able to cater to the growth in Vaudreuil-Dorion…some of the kids that go to local schools might have to be [bused].”
Meanwhile, St. Lazare’s Rose Bloom still has no clue in which school her six-year-old will attend this fall. “The thing that irritates me is that the board does not have a plan B,” said Bloom. “They keep saying they will build a new school, but what if it doesn’t work out? I want to know what their plan B is.”
Lester B.?Pearson Chairman Marcus Tabachnick did not return calls prior to presstime.

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