A new school on the Eastern Shore that is expected to replace both Gaetz Brook Junior High and Eastern Shore District High School is one step closer to reality today as the province released a request to proposal for the design of the building.
“The province of Nova Scotia is committed to building modern schools and classrooms across the province,” said Kevin Murphy, MLA for the East Coast.
“Now it’s our turn on the East Coast to participate in this process. “
Education Minister Derek Mombourquette announced Friday that the province is issuing a request for proposals for the collaborative design-build of the new school, calling it an important day for the community.
READ MORE: Divided Community on New Eastern Shore School Site
“This is an important step in the process,” said Mombourquette.
“We know this is a very important project for the entire East Coast and it has generated a lot of interest and a lot of conversation.
The conversation around the project was not always positive, however.
While discussions about the new school have continued for years, in January the province officially announced that the East Chezzetcook Industrial Park had been officially chosen as the new site for the school – this immediately sparked a community backlash with many concerns about the lack of community consultation.
Industrial park in East Chezzetcook selected as site for new high school
“I am very disappointed with the process,” says Colin Cameron, resident of Musquodoboit Harbor.
Cameron says he has been involved in community development for years and has been involved in this particular project since 2008 through the Ratepayers ‘Residents’ Association, which is now called Musquodoboit Harbor and Are Community Association.
“Based on their own site selection they were supposed to reject the existing site before looking at any other site and all we saw was technical reports written on the existing site and then they produced blank pages on them. other sites, ”Cameron said. .
“It was not a transparent process.
When the site’s location was first announced, it was under the Liberal government of Stephen McNeil with Zach Churchill as Minister of Education.
In February, Premier Iain Rankin was sworn in as Prime Minister and announced that Derek Mombourquette was the new Minister of Education. Shortly after, Mombourquette suspended plans for the school saying he would hold the community engagement process many were calling for.
That process ended in May and earlier this month Mombourquette confirmed the province was moving forward with the industrial park as the chosen location.
“We set up an independent process that asked a lot of questions and we received hundreds and hundreds of responses to the location question, to the question of future growth,” Mombourquette said.
“Based on this information, which is why we are here today, this space is the one that allows growth around the school, it is the one that, among the more than 900 responses that we have received, was the preferred choice.
Cheryl Waterfield has been a teacher at Gaetz Brook High School for more than two decades and attended the announcement on Friday morning and says she is thrilled the process is finally moving forward.
“I think it’s really unfortunate that we have a negative history of how this site was selected,” Waterfield said.
“The fact that so many people are upset with the choice of site shouldn’t take away the fact that our children need a new school.”
The opening of the new school is currently scheduled for the 2023-2024 school year.