A Moose Jaw resident and former Prairie South School Division trustee is asking the City of Moose Jaw to do more public consultations for the location of the joint-use school being built on South Hill.
The proposed school would be located in the Westheath subdivision in the southwestern area of the city. The city had made no secret that it was not consulted when the school divisions and the provincial government chose the location.
Jan Radwanski addressed city council on Monday night asking that the city adheres to its Planning Public Notice Policy and hold a public consultation session for the joint-use school.
According to the policy, a public information session must take place for a major zoning amendment that creates a direct control district, has a footprint of two hectares or greater, adds 50 or more dwellings or there are major changes in the land use intensity.
The rezoning of Westheath Phases 5 and 6 for the joint-use school is considered a major zoning amendment, but city council voted to waive the public consultation session due to previous consultations for the concept plan.
Radwanski said a full traffic assessment for the location was not completed even though it was a part of the Memorandum of Understanding that the city had with the school divisions and the Ministry of Education. According to Radwanski, the data provided by the city was over 10 years old so only a limited or partial study could be completed.
“So, it left a lot of really big question marks about safety,” he told city council.
Radwanski said there has been a lack of transparency and “genuine engagement” since the school boards and the provincial government announced the project in 2018.
Two public consultation sessions were held by the school boards in 2019. Radwanski said a meeting was held in June of 2019 to discuss the location, but it was the same day as the Grade 8 graduation at Westmount School, so many parents, staff and people interested in the location couldn’t attend.
Radwanski claimed the Westheath location wasn’t approved until the school division received a KPMG report recommending the location.
As a trustee with Prairie South School Division at the time, Radwanski said he only saw the report in a public session and only had a few minutes to discuss it before it was voted on. According to the Prairie South School Division minutes, Radwanski was the lone trustee who was opposed.
“There was no public session held with regard to the board’s preferred choice. In fact, the choices made at the June meeting clearly indicated of the 72 respondents, 33 of them indicated let’s build it at Sacred Heart or Westmount,” he said.
The city held public engagement in collaboration with the school divisions from April 6 to May 6, 2021, virtually due to the pandemic. The online survey was about the concept plan and not the location. There was a total of 160 respondents, but Radwanski confirmed with the city that it's unknown where the respondents live, what city they are from or if they were a part of the 500 residents in the area that were given notice by the city.
While the information provided by city administration to city council said the survey results are considered “a very satisfactory response for an area with a new local school” Radwanski felt it was flawed.
City council and administration had the opportunity to question Radwanski or make comments but chose to receive and file the information and not act upon it.