Lakeland Catholic School District (LCSD) enrolment is growing, and in order to accommodate the increasing number of students in their schools, they are proposing a new high school.
The district's Cold Lake schools saw an increase of about 10 per cent over this time last year.
“The number of students we have in our Cold Lake schools is increasing dramatically… that is across the grade levels,” said communications officer for LCSD Amanda Wildman, adding the final enrolment count won't be available until after Sept. 30.
“We need a fourth school so we can accommodate the dramatic increase in student enrolment in Cold Lake,” Wildman stressed, adding currently all Cold Lake LCSD schools are at or near capacity.
The proposed 500 student capacity school has yet to be approved by the government.
Wildman said, “With the population growth, it is good to have something that you can grow into rather than something too small.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, City of Cold Lake councillors discussed the proposed new high school's location, and its impact on the Energy Centre Site Master Plan during their corporate priorities meeting.
In August, council received a letter from LCSD superintendent Joe Arruda, requesting the City of Cold Lake release a total of 15 acres of land next to the Energy Centre for the construction of their proposed new school.
Over the past several months, the city has been in discussions with LCSD regarding the location of the school, and has suggested sites in both the north and south of the city. However, the school board has emphasized the importance of being central to both the north and south of Cold Lake.
“We wanted to have a central location because our families are in all of the areas within the City of Cold Lake,” Wildman said.
“It's close to all of the amenities in Cold Lake… There's great synergy by going there,” added Arruda. “It's the best location, and the best services, and the best programs, and we believe that location will be ideal for all concerned.”
Since LCSD's request, city administration has drafted multiple placement options for the school on the Energy Centre property, which is directly affecting the Cold Lake Energy Centre Site Master Plan in terms of the new sports fields and turf field locations.
On Tuesday, council discussed a recent sketch of the proposed location of the school provided by CAO Kevin Nagoya. After hearing feedback from council, the sketch will be revised and presented to both LCSD and Northern Lights Public Schools for comments.
“Initially council wanted to have the field close to the highway, but we did meet with Northern Lights Public Schools, and they have provided an initial response to the City of Cold Lake,” Nagoya said, adding the response was presented in the form of a letter, and explains NLPS' stance on placing the field closer to the highway.
Nagoya explained, “They would hate to have one high school closer to the field than the other one.”
Council was on the fence about the new location of the turf field and future sports fields, now that they have been moved to the back of the property and closer to a road that will connect to 16 St.
Nagoya explained that the city would be going for tender on the new turf field, so a decision on its location was needed.
“I think I like the original idea of having the sports (turf) field up front for the wow factor, and I think that puts the soccer fields closer,” said Coun. Bob Buckle. “I don't see why we would push it back.”
Coun. Chris Vining was not necessarily concerned with the location of the fields and turf. His concern lied more with the location of the school and its proximity to the Energy Centre. Vining brought up the idea of possibly connecting the proposed school to the main building.
Mayor Craig Copeland liked the idea of having the turf field at the back of the property, along with the future sports fields for multiple reasons, including easy accessibility when hosting sporting events and concerts.
Copeland added that with the fields located at the back of the property, there is more space up front for future projects such as a library, culture centre or city hall.
Council agreed, making a motion to relocate the turf and sports fields to the rear of the property.
“Ideally, we like the location that was on the proposed layout that was presented at that council meeting, and we were happy with that, but we are also open to other ideas as to where to place the school too,” Wildman explained.
Arruda reflected Wildman's excitement, “I think it looks great, and the city has a great plan. It's bringing all of the recreation facilities in one central location which I think is great.”
The matter will be back before council at a future meeting for final decision.