‘No decision has been made’ on building a school in a TMR park

Residents have questioned the wisdom of building a school near Highway 40, the future REM commuter rail, and below the flight path of Trudeau Airport.

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Some residents of the town of Mount Royal are outraged by rumors that a new school could be built on the grounds of a popular municipal park.

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They collected nearly 900 names in a petition and packed a town hall meeting this week to demand answers from Mayor Peter Malouf.

Rumors that a French elementary school would be built in Ernest B. Jubien Park began circulating last month after the city posted a message on its website saying it had reached an agreement in principle with the Center de service scolaire. Margeurite Bourgeoys for the location of a French primary school -needed.

Lawyers for the service center were finalizing the deal and a joint announcement was expected, Malouf said last month.

However, as residents have rallied against the proposal, Malouf appears to have changed his tune.

During several testy exchanges with residents at Tuesday’s council meeting, he insisted councilors and the service center were still weighing their options.

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“No decision has been made,” Malouf reiterated Friday in an interview with the Montreal Gazette. “You have all these leaks and then people kick up a storm.”

Francophone parents have been waiting for years for a new school to alleviate overcrowding at their three elementary schools. The new school would house 24 classes.

The Académie Saint-Clément was built for 350 students, but last year it had 600. Many students are in mobile classrooms.

The CEO of the school service center called The Gazette on Friday to say the location of the school has not been determined.

“We are still looking at the different (options),” said Dominic Bertrand, adding that he is working closely with the city to find a solution as soon as possible.

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In a letter to Malouf and city council members, resident Françoise Le Gris said the residents who signed the petition want the park preserved for the community.

The park is used by families who live in four high-rise apartment buildings along the Metropolitan Expressway and seniors who live in a residence on Russell Ave.

“It is unfair to take away from the population of this area a green space and a park that are the only places of greenery and recreation for the neighbors,” says the letter.

Residents have questioned the wisdom of building a school that would be 100 meters from Highway 40, near the future REM commuter rail line, and under the flight path of Trudeau Airport.

Le Gris said the city should shelve the plan until an evaluation of the options is done.

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But Malouf said that’s exactly what the service center and school committee have done.

After being elected mayor last November, Malouf formed a committee of experts that came up with a short list of suitable sites.

Those options will be examined by councilmembers during private caucus meetings and the public will be informed of the decision when the plan is finalized, he said.

“There has to be a safe place to discuss things in private, or will there be a public forum about everything?” she asked.

Two years ago, Pierre Arcand, the local member of the National Assembly, caused a stir when he suggested the school could be built on a football pitch adjacent to Dunrae Gardens, one of two English primary schools in the community.

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The Quebec government has set aside $25 million for a new French elementary school in TMR

To speed up the process of building schools, Quebec has given school service centers the power to require municipalities to relinquish public property for “the purpose of building or expanding a school.”

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge justified the move by saying that the construction of the schools was taking too long.

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