Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Monday, November 16, 2009

Port Edward continues the fight to keep its school open, more details on BC Ferries proposed Vancouver-Rupert route and Northern Health updates the H1N1 story, some of the items for the Monday news cycle.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
PORT EDWARD DETERMINED NOT TO LOSE ITS SCHOOL-- Showing more of the resolve that has been evident for the last few years in Port Edward, the District Council has approved spending of up to 40,000 dollars as part of a school study for the community.

The Daily News outlined some of the details on BC Ferries plans for a Rupert to Vancouver route during the summer, a once every two weeks sailing that would link the Lower Mainland with the North Coast, the Charlottes/Haida Gwaii and beyond. The story was first outlined by the Queen Charlotte Observer last week and was detailed on our humble little portal at that time as well.

Monday's paper featured an H1N1 update from Northern health, but Monday's article was missing a key change in the guidelines for those now eligible for the flu vaccine. As we outlined on the blog over the weekend, Northern Health has now made the vaccine available to children from ages 5 to 18, those over 65 with chronic health conditions and First Responders. The first clinic of this week takes place on Thursday at the Northern Health Unit in the Ocean Centre Mall from 10 am to 6 pm.

Sports featured a review of the weekends qualifying action for the all native basketball tournament as well as a recap of the Prince Rupert Rampage 2 game weekender with Burns Lake.

(Daily News Archive Articles for November 16 )

The Northern View
(No new updated material posted on Monday)

(No new updated material posted on Monday)

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
(No new updated material posted on Monday)

Daily News Front page headline story
Port Edward determined not to lose its school
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Monday, November 16, 2009

Port Edward District Council has approved spending up to $40,000 for L&M Engineering Ltd to conduct a school study.

The study will review the existing buildings owned by the District and the School to see if it is feasible to amalgamate or renovate or build a new building to house both the school and the district office.

Chief Administrative Officer Ron Bedard told council last week that an application to the Building Canada Fund to pay for an engineering study was turned down. Therefore, he proposed council use some of its Northern Development Initiative Trust funds to pay for the study. These funds were originally set aside for updating the community’s existing Zoning Bylaw.

“I checked with Northern Development Initiative Trust and they said we could use some of our economic funds for the study,” Bedard told council. “I believe doing this study is more of an urgent priority than updating our Zoning Bylaw.”

Bedard talked with the School District and was told they will have to make a decision in 2010 about Port Edward.

“This isn’t an easy decision, spending $40,000 for this project. I asked the secretary treasurer of the School District if they could put some money in and they can’t. I think we have to proceed, this is moving faster than we anticipated,” Bedard urged.

School Board Chair Tina Last said Friday she was glad to hear Port Edward was proceeding with a study.

“They want a school and no one can deny that, but we cannot afford to keep that structure. We get special rural funding only to operate schools. There is no capital to fund or maintain the buildings.”

According to Last it’s not only the school in Port Edward that comes into the conversation, it’s also Prince Rupert Secondary School and the cost of maintaining or rebuilding. With the numbers being down in every school in the District it means there is no access to funding from the Ministry of Education for any new buildings.

“You have to be at 85 percent capacity in the entire district before you can be considered for any new capital projects, money, renovations or additions,” she explained.

“The discussion around school closures and capacity issues are looming and Port Edward’s desire to have a school has to be balanced with realizing the District can’t continue to maintain the capital for the present school building. The optimum is to find a place in that community that isn’t in that current building.”

In earlier talks between the District and the School Board it had been suggested that the School District could lease a space from the District of Port Edward for a school.

“District 52 would try to sell the current school. That’s where the conversation on reconfiguring is at. If we went to a middle school scenario, that would work well for Port Edward,” Last said.

In reference to the school study Port Edward councillor Knut Bjorndal suggested the council develop a terms of reference for the study. He also wants council to contact other communities such as Port Clements and Pouce Coupe to see if either community has successfully received funding for studies.

After agreeing that the terms of reference be outlined before any monies were spent, mayor and council passed a motion to have the study done.

“The school is a high priority for sure,“ said councillor Murray Kristoff. “It will be money well spent.”

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