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Council signs agreement for creation of new South Hill school

The new 1,000-student building will see the closure of two schools each from Holy Trinity Roman Catholic School Division and Prairie South School Division on South Hill
Moose Jaw City Hall
Moose Jaw City Hall (Shutterstock)

City council has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with three education organizations for the construction of a new school on South Hill despite concerns about the building’s proposed location.  

During its Sept. 8 regular meeting, council voted 6-1 to approve the signing of the MOU; Coun. Brian Swanson was opposed. The agreement outlines the basic requirements to locate a joint-use school within the proposed Westheath neighbourhood. The new 1,000-student building will see the closure of two schools each from Holy Trinity Roman Catholic School Division and Prairie South School Division.

The Ministry of Education required a decision about the MOU before it would make available the results of a traffic impact assessment (TIA) for the school site, a council report explained. The parties added a clause to the MOU that allows the municipality to terminate the agreement if the TIA’s results are unfavourable and require “cost-prohibitive mitigation measures” on the city’s part.

The ministry determined a TIA was needed due to potential traffic issues in the area and before it could move forward with any concept plan proposals, the report said. Meanwhile, city administration identified in 2018 that locating the school within phases 5 and 6 of the Westheath area was problematic due to the traffic impact and because putting the school there went against the Official Community Plan.   

If the municipality determines the TIA’s results — to be released Sept. 25 by Prairie South — are favourable, or the results are not favourable but the parties can agree on a mitigation strategy, the project would still proceed. The city would also proceed with the project if the development plan is acceptable.  

In February city council initially agreed to sell all 34 acres in that area to the school divisions for $2.5 million. After discussions, all parties agreed that the municipality would instead sell 10 acres for the same price of $15,000 per acre, plus development levies of $50,592 per acre.

Based on the numbers presented, this means the ministry and school divisions will pay $655,920 for the site. However, the council report did not say how much in total the city would receive from this deal.    

Although city hall had spent $300,000 on a concept plan for the Westheath area, that money was not included in the MOU, the report said. The ministry’s justification was its proposed concept plan would replace the existing one.

City administration believes putting the school in phases 5 and 6 of Westheath could bring further development to that residential subdivision. The school’s development could service about 30 residential lots — with an estimated market value of $85,000 per lot — based on the final design. While the city would still be responsible for individual service connections, the construction of the school would include water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and road construction.

All of this, however, would depend on several factors, including a favourable recommendation from the traffic impact assessment to help determine whether the project should proceed, the report added.

The Moose Jaw Express will report on the conversation council had about this topic in another article.  

The next regular council meeting is Monday, Sept. 21.

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