Council gives green light to zoning change
St. Anthony's proposed new K-12 school passed another hurdle at Town Council on Tuesday, September 2.
Councillors passed the re-zoning application from Christ the Redeemer School Division by a narrow 4-3 margin, allowing the development to proceed.
The school division needed the application to receive Council approval or the school could not be built on the 12 acre site on North Dinosaur Trail.
The present St. Anthony's School's four acre site in east Drumheller is 50 years old and does not provide room needed for present and projected student enrollments.
A Special Meeting of Council was called for August 18 by Mayor Bryce Nimmo, after the first vote failed. When first reading of the proposed by-law change was passed at that meeting, it allowed time for the proper notification to be done and set the stage for the September 2 vote.
A packed gallery of mostly school supporters including parents, teachers and some students were present as current St. Anthony's School principal Tim Gregorash told Council the new school is good for the town as well, and the safety of his students was important to he and his staff.
School vice principal Celeste Schrock informed Council the road-sharing access to the proposed school off North Dinosaur Trail would not be a problem with the Quadrock Trucking business owned by family members.
If the zoning by-law were to pass, the school and Quadrock would share a service road, and Ms. Schrock said the business is quite willing to "co-exist with the school and the school busses on use of the approach road."
Mr. Serafino Grande, a separate school supporter and grandparent of children attending the proposed school spoke to council.
"No one has wanted the land so far, and it is ideally suited for the school," he said.
Bill Poulsen, another parent who supports the site said "it makes sense to develop on that (proposed) site."
His wife Ruth said "we are blessed to be in this community and this school means so much to us".
Another parent, Mike Hanly, told Council that Drumheller is a "dynamic town and this school would be a shot in the arm for Drumheller," and may in fact "provide for more economic development in the town."
"It really is a win-win solution for Drumheller," he concluded.
Finally, speaking in favour of the proposal was Michael O'Brien, superintendent for Christ the Redeemer School Division.
"Those are my bosses," he said as he addressed Council, referring to the supporters who had spoken previously, "and I listen to them."
"There is no better site (for the school) in this town, I've looked,"
Clearly more forceful in his words than the last time he was before Council, Mr. O'Brien explained Drumheller was indeed fortunate to have been okayed by the province for a new school.
Through the efforts of his division and the trustees, Drumheller was able to "jump the queue" to secure funding over schools in Calgary.
"I beg you to make the change," he pleaded with Council, "and there isn't a problem on that site we can't solve."
"This is a great community and we can make it better."
Mr. O'Brien added it is not unusual when a highway is located next to a school, and listed many towns where this is the case.
Speaking against the by-law was neighbouring business owner Don Chambers who urged council to deny the re-zoning application.
Mr. Chambers wanted to see more quality retail businesses on the highway, and not less.
He sees competition from other major cities where tourists might go, if businesses are denied the opportunity to develop.
Prior to the vote, Councillors Berdahl told his colleagues and the crowd, that in his mind, this was "a land use issue and nothing more".
Mayor Nimmo called for the vote, and it narrowly passed third reading with Councillors Bertamini, MacDonald and Yemen and Mayor Nimmo in favour, while Councillors Shoff, Guidolin and Berdahl voted against the motion.
Hearing a happy sigh of relief, several of the supporters of the school offered their personal comments.
Mike Hanly, who has two sons attending St. Anthony's told The Mail following the meeting, "I am very, very pleased!... and glad they (Council) saw fit to pass the zoning by-law application."
Bill Poulsen, another parent, spoke following the meeting. "I'm very happy, it's fantastic for the town and I'm glad it's finally over. The residents are going to be extremely happy with the outcome of the meeting."
Ray Ainscough said, "I think this is a positive move for Drumheller and thank Council for the wisdom they have shown in supporting this new school."
The division will now move ahead with further planning and the issue still has to pass the development application process in the future.