Nuns’ Island might get a second elementary school after all.
An amendment to Montreal’s city charter adopted on Wednesday could pave the way for the school to be built in Parc de la Fontaine despite opposition from some residents.
Parent Olivier Drouin’s Facebook page was already inundated on Thursday morning with comments from cautiously optimistic parents.
“They’re very happy but they know very well that it’s only one step in a long battle,” said Drouin, who heads a Nuns’ Island families’ association.
Drouin’s daughter attends École primaire Île des Soeurs – one of the largest elementary schools in Quebec with more than 1,000 children. It’s been expanded three times and the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys has been stymied in its bid to build a new elementary school on Nuns’ Island.
Despite having received $10.5 million from the Quebec government last year for the project, it hasn’t been able to find a place to build the school.
Verdun borough mayor Claude Trudel has maintained that Parc de la Fontaine is the only suitable site. But last fall, nearly 750 residents in the surrounding area, far more than the number needed to force a referendum, signed a register opposing the zoning change that would allow the construction of a school there. The borough backed down.
In the wake of the result, Trudel called it illogical and absurd that only residents adjacent to an affected area can decide the fate of facilities that would benefit the wider community. He has been asking the Quebec government to amend Section 89 in Montreal’s city charter, which states that any “shared or institutional equipment” project isn’t subject to referendum approval and instead can be sent to the city’s public consultation office.
The “equipment” mentioned in the charter included a hospital, college or university. The amendment adopted by Quebec’s National Assembly Wednesday adds public schools to the mix.
“We’ll move forward with the project if the school board asks us and agrees,” Trudel told The Gazette.
The next step would be for the borough to ask Montreal’s city council to send the file to the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, which can make recommendations to improve the project, Trudel said.
Opponents of the project could still voice their views at hearings held by the city’s public consultation office, he said.
The Marguerite-Bourgeoys board declined an interview request on Thursday, saying it was reserving comment while waiting for a meeting with the borough to see the impact of the legislative change for the board. Diane Lamarche-Venne, the board’s chairperson, told The Gazette last month that it still considered Parc da la Fontaine the best solution, saying it was a nice location that would allow students to walk to school.
“It’s a very sad day for democracy” because the citizens have already weighed on this, said Jack L. Kugelmass, who is on the executive of a community association that promotes the conservation of green space on Nuns’ Island.
“We had overwhelming support to save the park,” Kugelmass said.
“We’re not going to stand back and watch the parade,” he said, adding they will fight it to the end.
“We think a park is sacred and should not be touched. So it has nothing to do with ‘not-in-my-backyard.
I don't get it,of all the names available ,they choose to have a Lafontaine Park on Nuns Island too....why not name it after some Verdun person........ - Les