Should our school field be converted to a Parking Lot?
On March 19th, 2018, School District 61 in consultation with EMJS Administration will begin construction of a 10-space parking lot adjacent to the portable complex. This parking lot will replace the existing green play field on the northwest corner of the École Margaret Jenkins School grounds. A group of concerned parents want this work to be temporarily delayed in order to review and provide input on the design and decisions planned for this piece of City-owned land.
This petition is a request to put the construction of the parking lot on hold so that we can have some engagement and consultation, in order to ensure that this decision and design is in the best interests of students, parents, staff, and the community.
Our main concerns with the planned parking lot are as follows:
- There has been no opportunity for input or examination of alternatives. There is confusion over why the parking lot is needed, whom it is for, and how it will actually affect students, staff, neighbours, parents, FGCA, and the community.
- Initially, we were under the impression that the City required this parking lot to accommodate increased staff parking needs and to accompany the new portable complex. However, we learned at our March 6th meeting with Mayor Lisa Helps that the City would support a variance if requested, removing requirements for this parking lot.
- There are safety concerns for children with this parking lot. Right now, no child needs to cross in front of the staff parking lot driveway to enter the school grounds because there are pedestrian entrances on either side. However, the design of the new parking lot will require everyone coming from the west side of the school along Chandler to cross the new parking lot driveway before they can enter the school via the path.
- The parking lot will increase traffic congestion at drop-off and pick-up, with cars pulling in and out, and reduces the number of on-street parking spaces available in order to accommodate the parking lot entrance and sight lines. Although the new parking lot is to include 10 parking spaces, the net number of parking spaces gained will be lower as several on-street parking spaces will be lost to make room for the parking lot entrance.
- The parking lot does not address the staff’s parking concerns. Even with the additional lot, some staff will still need to park on the street. For those who arrive before the busy morning drop off times there is already long-term on-street parking available to accommodate overflow from the current staff parking lot. For staff who arrive closer to the bell when street parking is temporarily taken up by parents dropping off kids, the extra parking lot will not help as it will likely be full by then as well. Traffic volume tends to fill available space.
- The parking lot will permanently remove green space from the school grounds.
- No landscaping has been planned by the District surrounding the planned parking lot, which was one of the selling points to neighbours.
- No space is left to accommodate future playground needs such as a possible expansion of the naturalized playground, gardens, or Gaga ball pit (an outdoor ball game for students that staff suggested the PAC consider funding). Similarly, future needs of any daycare or preschool program that might operate out of the portables may be unable to satisfy VIHA's requirements of 6m2 per child in a separate, secure area without taking even more space away from the EMJS students’ playground to accommodate it.
- The portable complex and accompanying parking lot are on City owned property which is provided to the school district for educational purposes only.
- The parking lot will only be used during school hours on school days. This is a poor use of land.
- The parking lot will negatively impact our environment as pollutants from cars accumulate on parking lot surfaces and end up in our storm drains and watersheds.
- Providing additional parking spaces contrasts with our school's efforts to promote greener transportation alternatives through the Safe and Active Routes to School initiative.
We are committed to finding a solution that meets the parking needs of school staff and users of the FGCA facilities in the portables, without compromising childrens’ safety. We also do not want to unnecessarily limit future access to natural outdoor learning spaces for staff, students, and children attending FGCA programs, as well as green space for the surrounding community.
Please help us send a message to the school district requesting that they retract the work order to begin construction until we have had engagement and consultation, in order to ensure that this decision and design is in the best interests of students, parents, staff, and the community.