Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pacific coast school soon to finally open its doors

If nothing else the path that the Pacific Coast School has travelled this year is a handy study lesson, instructive in the process of municipal politicians, zoning snafus, archaic bureaucracy and misunderstandings among neighbours.

After what seems like the longest period in local history to get something approved, the alternative high school for the city is just about ready to open its doors and get to what it really was designed for, educating students.

The much delayed approval process, most recently thrown a curve by the Ministry of Transportation seems finally close to completion, the zoning approvals ready and the covenants or arrangements required now complete.
Having shown much more patience than really should have been expected, the staff and students of the new School will soon be getting to work, providing a course load designed to reinvigorate the learning process for many students that had fallen through cracks or lost interest in the process.

The Daily News featured the details of the final few steps before the doors open up and formal studies get under way at the Second Avenue West location.

School is about to come to life
Alternate school to get long-awaited approval from municipality
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pacific Coast School should be getting a final stamp of approval from the city very soon.
The red re-zoning sign was noticeably absent from the proposed school site on Second Avenue, perhaps suggesting that the imminent arrival of approval was at hand.

According to Mayor Jack Mussallem, the city is still waiting for the final approvals from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Highways) before it approves the school, but he expects it soon.

"You'll see the bylaw finally adopted by council and at that point you'll see the school start at a full-fledged operation," said Mussallem.

The Pacific Coast School has gained much local attention with regards to its proposed location, the first being First Avenue in the Seasports building. That proposition was denied by city council after some opposition to the school from merchants in that area.

The second location has run into bureaucratic stumbling blocks, as the city did not have a proper handle at first on whose authority final approval for the school belongs to, considering Second Avenue is an extension of Highway 16.

Last week, the Daily News reported that the school would not open until the ministry was convinced that three covenants would be guaranteed by the city on the location as City Manager Gord Howie said the city needed to ok it with the Ministry first.

During the last city council meeting, the school district was told it was expected to enter into a covenant registered with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the City of Prince Rupert, to restrict a change in the use of the property unless approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the city.

It was also to have no new access under any circumstances.

There shall be no stopping in the travelled lane on Second Avenue for the dropping-off or picking-up of students. All vehicular traffic associated with the school must use alternate access for the site.

However, Ministry of Transportation media relations director Dave Crebo said that there were no covenants placed upon the school.

"What there was from Ministry of Transportation perspective is a request for a couple letters of confirmation that the ministry would be advised if this property were to change down the road - avoiding a kindergarten," said Crebo.

Crebo said a kindergarten would mean more young children being dropped off in front of the school, something the ministry did not want.

The other letter was from the school board confirming that they have permission from Rupert Square Mall that the school can use the parking space.
Crebo said both have been received.

With it turning out that the covenants are not needed, Mussallem said approval should be imminent.

"The ministry was thinking that they needed more documentation done but since then the ministry is thinking of a simpler process to pursue it and we could be dealing with that matter later this week," said Mussallem.

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