Public feedback sought in new elementary school plans

What would you like to see Lake Cowichan's upcoming elementary school to look like?

  • Feb. 14, 2011 6:00 a.m.

What would you like to see Lake Cowichan’s upcoming elementary school to look like?

That’s what consultant Sue Plester would like to find out during two public meetings, to be held Wednesday, February 23, and Monday, February 28.

“The community has been very generous with sharing their ideas during preliminary discussions for what might make sense to co-locate at a Neighbourhood of Learning Centre at the proposed new elementary school,” Cowichan Valley Regional District Board of Education chair Candace Spilsbury said, in a press release.

“It is now time to more formally engage with the public and give them the opportunity to write down their further suggestions and opinions. We hope to hear from a lot of people.”

As Plester has been explaining during various focus group sessions she’s been organizing throughout the Cowichan Lake area, a Neighbourhood of Learning Centre can vary quite a bit, depending upon what the community would like involved in a new elementary school.

“A lot of people feel that schools are very underutilized,” she told a group at the Lake Cowichan Seniors Centre last month. “When they’re not in session, they’re empty.”

Some ideas the public has brought forward for a Neighbourhood of Learning Centre so far include a public library, continuing education centre, a food bank, a youth centre, an RCMP station, and various other community-minded things.

The new elementary school, currently on the top of School District 79’s priority list of capital projects, could be simply that; an elementary school. It all depends on what the community wants.

Both public meetings will take place at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s new multi-purpose room, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The sessions will start with a half-hour presentation on the Neighbourhood of Learning concept, followed by a period of questions, discussion, and other means of public feedback.

“We are always open to ideas that will enhance this great place we call home and are thrilled to be part of this process,” mayor Ross Forrest said in a press release.

The results of these public meetings will be gathered together in a report, which will be shared with the public in May of this year.

These Neighbourhood of Learning discussions began last year, when Cowichan Valley School District 79 partnered with the Town of Lake Cowichan to receive a $24,000 Neighbourhood of Learning grant from the government. Half of this grant went toward Lake Cowichan Secondary School’s greenhouse and garden area, while the other half went toward consulting for what the community would like involved in a Neighbourhood of Learning model.

So far, the preferred site for a new elementary school is the AB Greenwell site. The original building was closed due to mould, with students being bussed out to the Yount School site in Youbou, which continues to happen today.