Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cow Bay Merchants not quite united

If and when the planned Pacific Coast School approaches City council for a second look at their rezoning application, they might find that they have a few more allies in the neighbourhood than they thought they had last week.

With the community seemingly split on the controversial council decision to deny the school use of the building and land adjacent to Seasport Marine on First Avenue East, so too it seems is the actual Cow Bay community.

Monday’s Daily News provided some background on the debate within the businesses of the district, with some of the merchants in the area coming out firmly in support of the proposed school, a rather different point of view than that expressed at the last council meeting by some outspoken business owners of the region.

Considering the apparent split in the Cow Bay District and the groundswell of support for the school in their preferred location, one has to wonder if City Council may not give this issue a second look as well as a second vote, once all of the necessary voices have been heard on it.

For the School District they may not have to launch a property search just yet, there could be a sliver of hope for their Cow Bay home after all.

Cow Bay Merchants hope right location is found
The Daily News
Monday, December 15, 2008
Pages one and three

The turbulent decision regarding the proposed Pacific Coast Alternate School on First Avenue has divided Prince Rupert.

But the Cow Bay merchants who support city hall's decision to deny the proposed school opening in their neighbourhood say they wish to make it abundantly clear: they support the school in principle.

But the major sticking point for them has been the idea of consultation - that plopping the school there was not handled properly by either the school district or city hall.

"There are two scenarios. One is that is that the best place for the school, and two, as a taxpayer, is that the best use of taxpayers money? We have existing empty schools that the school district owns.” said Cow Bay Gift Gallery owner Glen Saunders.

Saunders along with other merchants and light industrial shop owners were at city hall last Monday to voice their disagreement with the project's location. The stumbling block for them, they said, was consultation.

"We don't think it's thing where the community is going to have this school or not. We think it's just where is it more appropriate to be?" said Saunders.

Other shop owners wished to remain off the record with their comments but said the lack of consultation was paramount in their opposition.

There has been a lot of rancor about the decision around town, including a petition by taxi driver Frank Racy who received 127 signatures in support of the school being located in the former Seasport building.

Opposition to the school having been located on First Avenue was not unanimous.

Two Cow Bay tenants wondered what the big deal was. They said even on principle, they would like to see the school located in First Avenue.

Homeworks owner Dave Smook said that he was fine with the school locating there.

"Maybe because I come from a social background and a business background I don't see any issues with the school locating itself there," said Smook.

All-Native Basketball Tournament President Clarence Martin agreed that the school would be just fine in his neighbourhood.

"We don't want to put labels on people and go through a selective process, you know. Pretty soon then they say maybe the All-Native shouldn't be here because we've been told you must have (certain) displays. I see no harm ... I support the school being there," said Martin.

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