Arguments for Moving Moncton High School Don't Hold Water
Posted to Moncton Free Press, February 2, 2012
While I appreciate the effort to set forth the case in a dispassionate way (and certainly we have seen the same points iterated on numerous occasions in the local newspaper) the arguments do not hold.
First, it is one thing to say that students do not live near the existing site and quite something else to infer that they live near the proposed site. As a matter of far, the proposed site is several kilometers outside the urban area of Moncton. While some of the students bused to the new site live north of the city, many live east and south, for example, in Dieppe. To say that "the flight to the suburbs has already occurred" misrepresents the fact that this particular region is mostly vacant land to which a "flight to the suburbs" has manifestly *not* occurred.
Indeed, the proposal to move the high school matches very much the wishes of the developer, who would very much like to see the flight to this region of the city begin to occur, who has urged (I was at the meeting and saw it) development of an additional segment of land near Irishtown as suburban housing, and would see substantial windfall earnings as a result of an extension of city services to what was previously planned to be undeveloped land.
Second, while there is not a playing field on site, it should be observed that the existing school is very close to an already-developed playing field located between Wheeler and Marjorie street, as well as excellent facilities often available for use at the University of Moncton. It should be noted that no playing fields exist near the proposed site and would have to be developed from scratch, along with all other infrastructure.
Additionally, as has been pointed out elsewhere, a move into the vacant land at the edge of the city would remove students from all other educational support services, including access to libraries and museums (each of which are located within five minutes of the current location), stores and other services, and city transit, to name a few. There is even an extensive wetland that runs from the edge of school property for several kilometers in either direction - no need to relocate for that!
Third, while we understand that there is no current plan to tear down the existing Moncton High School, citizens are quite rightly concerned about the loss and/or defacement of a valuable heritage property.
One can observe, for example, the conversion of other heritage properties into commercial and residential space - this in virtually all cases involves the privatization of the property and the destruction of the properties essential architecture. For example, look at what has been done to the heritage church in downtown Halifax: http://www.brucelarter.ca/Home&Cottage/condo.html
While perhaps one could imagine an alternative use for the building as a museum, there seems to be in general little regard for heritage buildings, as plans exist to essentially destroy the green space and architecture surrounding Moncton Museum to create an enlarged 'transportation discovery centre' (which, perhaps appropriately, will not be within walking distance of any Moncton school after the move of Moncton High - to view that architectural disaster see here: http://www.lord.ca/Pages/Lord_Projects_MonctonMuseum.php
Fourth, while not considered in the discussion above, it cannot be overlooked that Moncton High School is the only high school in the central and eastern region of Moncton. It is an essential asset in a region that plays a central role in the development of a revitalized downtown region. The exodus to the suburbs is not a fait accompli in Moncton, as is witnessed by the actual or planned construction of numerous units in the core.
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