Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ward 13/14 & 15 School Trustee Debate

Before I get into last night's trustee debate, here's the link to last night's CHCH profile of Ward 13: http://www.chch.com/home-vote-competition-ward-13-seat/

Having done a few of these now, it's always interesting to find out which of the several 15 second answers you give them make it to air. Apparently, the producers thought my bit on running without signs and the dire condition of Governor's Road were the best fit for the piece.

Interesting fact I learned: you'll see just at the start of my bit that I'm talking to a woman and her 2-year-old son (that was not staged by the way, that just happened to be what I was doing when the CHCH truck rolled up). The cameraman really liked the image and I mentioned that it was too bad he couldn't use it without a release. It turns out that if you're standing on public property (like a street or sidewalk), no release is needed! Huh!

Getting back to the debate, the moderator of the Dundas Facebook page was quite keen to get my perspective on the event so when I got home, I posted this quick blurb:

"It sure was busy! The organizers said this was the best attendance they've had yet! Later on in the evening, the room got even more crowded. I'm quite happy I went. There were some great questions and positions were made quite clear by the candidates. Really looking forward to my own debate next Monday - it's going to be packed! "

This morning, there was already some more activity on the page and again, I was urged to dip my toe in the water. 

"More than anything, the thing that stood out to me was there is still a very deep division in Dundas between the people that want to save Parkside and  the people who just want to move ahead with DVSS. I personally found the crowd quite loud for a Dundas audience - at one point someone from behind me (I was in the front row) yelled out to Bob Maton that he should run for Premier. 

It would be a personal priority of mine to get the City to purchase Parkside because I really want to save the building and open it up to broad community use. I'd really like to see a daycare in there, a senior's facility, studio space for artists and classroom space that we could lease to the school board for the sort of alternative educational programs (or even FI) that Bob had mentioned.

I am really alarmed at the potential long-term prospect of not having any high schools at all in Dundas in 15-20 years and that's why my #1 long-term goal is to make Dundas really family-friendly and grow the sort of population that will keep our schools full and open."

After that, things pretty much got out of hand and the debate rages on as we speak, which I think dramatically underlines my very first point. 

I'll end this post with one final exchange.

  • Marc Risdale [...]

    The thing that really concerns me as a parent is that the projections for the DVSS student population show the school going under-capacity in a very short time frame. In my opinion, we have to do everything we can NOW as a town to turn that around. I don't want my son going to Ancaster or Waterdown for high school (no offence to those towns - they're lovely but they're no Dundas...)
  • Rich Gelder IMHO, the belief that DVSS might eventually be slated for closure is fear-mongering that has been manufactured to create misinformation about the ARC process. Another one of Dr. Bob Maton's porkies last night was the suggestion that there was a "documented" plan by the Board to close all Dundas secondary schools and ship kids to Ancaster. That was all completely unfounded rumour.

    Unless there is a pending wave of sterilization in town, I think our population of 25,000 (not including surrounding communities in the catchment) can perpetually sustain a high school of 1,000.
  • Marc Risdale While the population will remain there, it's the mix we have to watch. If all we build are condos and small homes marketed to empty-nesters, the proportion of kids in town will drop.

My point in all this is that I believe that there is a undeniable link between school closures and municipal policy. Any Councillor that simply throws their hands up and says it's all up to the School Board is doing you (and me) a gross disservice.

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