Say NO to selling our precious public school land and stream

Say NO to selling our precious public school land and stream

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Isabel CVS started this petition to Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Board of Education and

Please sign this petition to communicate to SD61 Trustees and the Ministry of Education your opposition to the sale of this school land at Lansdowne Middle School south campus.

This land is needed to support the educational needs of students as well as the recreational, flood mitigation, and climate action needs of the general public in this rapidly densifying urban area.

The Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Board of Education passed the first two readings of a bylaw to sell 1.9 acres of Lansdowne Middle School south campus school land (next to and including a portion of Bowker Creek) on January 24th. The Board has postponed the third reading from February 28th to March 14th. If approved this public land would be permanently lost to our community. 

Please take action by signing this petition. (Please note we are not asking for any donations.)

Additional actions include the following:

- Attend Sunday, March 13th, 1-2 pm: Lie Down for Lansdowne: public event at Lansdowne south campus.
Write to SD61 School Board Trustees at trustees@sd61.bc.ca 
(cc. community@sd61.bc.ca)
-  Write to the Minister of Education, Hon. Jennifer Whiteside (educ.minister@gov.bc.ca) and the Deputy Minister, Christina Zacharuk (DM.Education@gov.bc.ca) - the Ministry needs to approve SD61’s request to dispose of the property.
-  Share your concerns with local MLAs Murray Rankin (murray.rankin.MLA@leg.bc.ca) and Rob Fleming (rob.fleming.mla@leg.bc.ca)
-  Write letters to the editor
-  Watch the Monday, March 14th Board meeting, with 3rd bylaw reading, at 7:30 pm (SD61 livestream channel here)

Background

The agreement to sell this land was announced on October 14, 2021 with no prior notice to alert the public to the sales negotiations or effort to consult the public.

One Information Session was held on November 3, 2021 where many community stakeholders asked questions, raised their concerns, and requested that adequate time be given to proper consultation for this land disposal given the ecological and social value of this parcel of land. That time has not been given. No meaningful dialogue has taken place.

What’s at stake

  1. The rapid disposal of school land: This agreement to sell 1.9 acres at the Lansdowne Middle School south campus follows on the heels of a 7.3 acre land sale at the Lansdowne north campus in 2021, and a land lease in progress at Victoria High School for 2.15 acres. The Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA) opposes the sale of any school land; the Greater Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (GVPAC) opposes this sale of Lansdowne south campus.
  2. Enrolment projections: Local and regional Community Plans target this area of the urban core for intense densification and those plans are well underway. This means that the school population will rise. Lansdowne Middle School is already split between two campuses because the original campus (north) is at capacity. The south campus is housed in what was previously Richmond Elementary School. We are at capacity now. We cannot afford to sell school land. 
  3. Loss  of green space: The Shelbourne Local Area Plan and Jubilee Neighbourhood Plan have consistently identified a lack of adequate green space in the area. It is well understood how critical natural green space is to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of our children and all members of our community. We are continuing to lose that space and once lost, it is gone forever.
  4. Bowker Creek flood prevention and restoration: Bowker Creek flows through the land targeted for sale, and is a fundamental ecological feature that the community has sought to protect, restore, and enhance for 30 years. The site for sale is Bowker Creek floodplain, projected for flooding, due to climate change, which will inundate 300 buildings along the creek unless strong action is taken. CRD engineering studies between 2001 and 2020 identify it as the “best” location along the creek for a “stormwater management facility”—a greenspace that occasionally floods, and thus prevents wider flooding—capable of reducing peak flows downstream by 15%. The proposed “stormwater management facility” allows for comprehensive restoration of Bowker Creek habitat and biodiversity, while maintaining community open space.
  5. Lack of consultation: Beyond the speed at which the School Board is attempting to sell this land, and the lack of response to community questions and concerns, SD61 has ignored the Ministry of Education’s School Building Closure and Disposal Policy, which requires that: “Boards of education must consider potential needs for alternative community use” and “must consult with local government, community organizations and the public on alternative community uses”.
  6. Climate emergency: SD61 declared a climate emergency in 2019 and acknowledged that “The children are the future, and we should be doing everything we can to ensure they have one to look forward to”. Disposing of publicly-owned lands for development, particularly those within a floodplain is not consistent with local, provincial, and national climate adaptation.

SD61 School Board Process

At the January 24, 2022 Board meeting, Trustees held the first and second bylaw reading at the same time, condensing timelines. Trustees Painter (Chair), Ferris, Henze, Leonard, and Watters voted Yes to selling this land. Trustees Duncan, McNally, Paynter, and Whiteaker voted No.

Trustees McNally and Paynter were suspended from the Board on Feb. 11th. 

On Feb. 18th, the Songhees Nation called for the resignation of the SD61 Board of Education and the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA) held a vote of no confidence in the Board. 

We want to work together

Progressive cities need community groups to work together to meet the full range of community needs and services. One thing is clear: 21st century cities densify through building on developed land while they protect their school land, green space, and valuable ecological assets in the face of a growing population and the climate emergency.

We say NO to the sale of this public land meant to serve our children and community generations into the future. Once gone, it is gone forever.

PLEASE SIGN and SPREAD THE WORD!

Please note: This petition is complementary to an earlier petition launched by the Friends of Bowker Creek that focuses on the flood prevention and creek restoration plans and commitments that this land sale would prevent. Please also sign this petition to voice your concerns over this serious climate mitigation issue.

More information is available here:

Camosun Community Association
Friends of Bowker Creek Society

This petition has been supported by the following community groups (please check back for growing list):

  • Kings Community Nature Space Fundraising Committee
  • Friends of Bowker Creek Society
  • Friends of Vic High
  • Greater Victoria Teachers' Association
  • Camosun Community Association

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!