Saturday, May 3, 2014

Mike Holmes Mentioned in Edmonton School Debate

Mike Holmes was recently in Edmonton doing some work in promoting the Boyle Renaissance Tower opening. So I guess it's only appropriate that Mike got an honorable mention in an article about a local debate over three old school houses in a North Glenora neighborhood. The debate in a nutshell is over whether or not to close down three older schools in a one part of the town and replace them with one new replacement school in a different part of town. Some fear that replacing the schools will discourage young families from infilling the older neighborhoods. Others feel that a new school will benefit the community as a whole. Mike confirmed, through his company, that he is against the closure of the schools. Read the article below for more information:
From the Edmonton Journal:

Developers, TV contractor Mike Holmes, city councillor wade into replacement-school debate

 By Andrea Sands, Edmonton Journal May 3, 2014
Wayne Arthurson outside Coronation Elementary School. Arthurson is the president of the parent council at Coronation School, which recently did a survey that shows 93 per cent of parents want the school to stay open.Photograph by: Larry Wong, EDMONTON JOURNAL
Developers behind three west-Edmonton housing projects, a city councillor, even an international TV celebrity are joining the rising tide of resistance to possible school closures in the Westmount area.
Developers working on a new 16-townhouse development and a Family Reunification Centre for 50-100 children, both of which are across the street from Coronation Elementary School, have written letters to the public school board opposing a possible school amalgamation that could shut the North Glenora school.
Professional contractor and television host Mike Holmes also plans to send a letter to trustees, Holmes’s communications manager, Amanda Heath, confirmed in an email from Toronto. Holmes is involved with the M├ętis Capital Housing Corporation, which is working on the Family reunification centre.
“The proposed project, the Family Reunification Centre, would certainly benefit from the Coronation School remaining open,” Heath wrote.
Westcorp, a real-estate company, was counting on Coronation School in plans to convert its 60-townhouse development to a 150-unit family-oriented complex. “Closure of this school could significantly alter our plans for what type of housing would be appropriate,” said the company’s letter to the school board.
Parents on both sides of the amalgamation proposal say tension is mounting in the community over the Edmonton Public School plan to close three schools in one older neighbourhood, replacing them with a new $20 million K-9 building for 650-800 students. The district will pick one of three areas for the amalgamation — Beverly Heights, Highlands or Westmount.
“It has caused friction and competition between neighbourhoods and community,” said Wayne Arthurson, chair of the parent council at Coronation School, at 10925 139 St., in North Glenora. “I heard the term a couple times, the Edmonton Hunger Games, where you’re forced to compete for something you don’t want.”
Edmonton Public Schools managing director Lorne Parker said education officials are working hard to answer questions from parents and communities and incorporate their suggestions when possible.
“I certainly understand why parents maybe feel that we’re setting up a competitive model and that’s not the intent,” he said. “We’re attempting to be responsive to not only education needs but community needs when and wherever we can.”
Edmonton Public Schools is holding a series of meetings and gathering community feedback before trustees decide in late June where to build the school.
In Westmount, three schools are being studied for amalgamation: Coronation, Inglewood Elementary and Westmount Junior High.
A survey of Coronation Elementary School parents shows the vast majority — 93 per cent — don’t want the school to close. If Coronation is closed, about 81 per cent will consider sending their kids to another small community school rather than the huge replacement school. About 50 people responded to the online survey that went out to families of the 161 kids attending Coronation School, said Arthurson.
Over at Inglewood Elementary School, about 2.5 kilometres northeast of Coronation, the clash of opinions has prompted the parent council president to resign. Blair Lutz wants the new school built in Westmount and recently sent out a letter to Inglewood School parents detailing some of his reasoning.
Inglewood School is more than 60 years old and needs costly repairs to keep running, including heating and mechanical upgrades and repairs to cracked walls and peeling paint, Lutz wrote. Bigger schools get better programming and more funding, students do have to change schools at some point in their education and Inglewood School will get left behind in a system that’s moving to larger school buildings, wrote Lutz, whose son is in Grade 3 at the school, at 11515 127th St.
Lutz said he has been called a “dictator” and a “liar” over his arguments supporting a new school.
“The animosity over this issue, it’s horrible in some ways,” said Lutz, who has been on the parent council for three years, serving as vice-president last year and as president since June 2013.
“It’s not productive.”
Ward 6 Coun. Scott McKeen, whose ward covers the Westmount and North Glenora neighbourhoods, told school district officials in a letter that the North Glenora housing projects will bring in “an abundance of school-aged children” to the area.
McKeen said he respects that school trustees, not city councillors, are responsible for deciding where to build the replacement school, but the city has been working to boost housing development and get more people living in mature neighbourhoods.
“Our goal, as a city, is to increase the density in old neighbourhoods to appropriate but fairly significant infill, to revitalize these neighbourhoods and bring in young families. It only makes sense that if the school is closed, it’s going to be a lot harder to do the infill,” McKeen said.
“I think having an elementary school in the community is very important to people.”

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