The addition of two new classrooms at John de Graff Elementary School is going to have to do for children living in Harbour View South, at least for now.
The addition of two new classrooms for the East Kildonan school, located at 1020 Louelda St., was announced in June. Earlier this year, the River East Transcona School Division declined its second of two land dedications in Harbour View South. The first was declined in 2011.
RETSD chief financial officer Vince Mariani said the two adjoining tracts of land in the neighbourhood, located near the intersection of Concordia Avenue East and Grantsmuir Drive, totalled approximately three acres. The division requires at least eight acres with which to work.
"The land that we had dedicated to us was insufficient," he said. "It was really pretty much useless to us, so when the options came up for us to exercise, we chose not to."
One tract is owned by Qualico and the other by Bridgewood Estates, who are now teaming up to build a park on the site.
Qualico vice-president of community development Eric Vogan said at the time the land was dedicated in 2006, three acres was an acceptable size. Vogan said there has since been a move to dedicate larger tracts of land to build larger schools.
"When we did the plan, the school board was looking for a three-acre site," Vogan said, noting some south Winnipeg divisions looked for four acres at that time. "The province decided we need super-schools, so they kicked up the size of the site. We’re now, in other areas, working with six-acre sites, combining them with adjacent parks to make them adequately big."
Vogan said he’d prefer a system that keeps land dedications private so as to not drive expectations in the neighbourhood.
Representatives from Bridgewood Estates could not be reached for comment.
Mariani said the decision to build a school ultimately rests with the provincial government, and he wasn’t optimistic about the province agreeing to build in the neighbourhood.
"We put the mechanism in place to enable a school to be built, and then we wait for the government to let us know whether it will happen," he explained.
The division also has a tract of land dedicated in Canterbury Park at Edmund Gale Drive and John Duncan Drive. That dedication expires in 2015.
Mariani said with major development in the form of Transcona West, there may be enough added population to justify a new school in the neighbourhood to serve Harbour View South residents down the line.
In the meantime, there will be the new classrooms at John de Graff. Mariani said his understanding is the new classrooms will come in the form of an addition to the school and not a subdivision of existing rooms. However, since planning is in its early stages, there is no information as to how large the addition will be or where it will be situated.
"In the short term, I think we’re managing quite well with the schools in the surrounding area being able to pick up the students that are coming out of those areas," he said.
Naline Rampersad, the press secretary for education minister Nancy Allan, said in an email that the logistics are out of the province’s hands after the funds have been awarded.
Realtor Geoff Archambault said in an email that he, wife Regan, and their two children lived in Harbour View South for 14 years before moving to East St. Paul.
He said his children attended Springfield Heights School for elementary before moving on to John Henderson Junior High School. The children were bused from home, which he said was convenient.
Archambault feels area residents haven’t been negatively impacted having to send their children to other neighbourhoods for class.
"In selling numerous homes in the area, the lack of schools in the area has never been an issue for any purchasers," he noted.