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Trustee raises concerns about traffic impact assessment

The assessment will evaluate traffic operations under two development concepts on the Westheath site for the new joint-use South Hill School
prairie south office zoom spring 2019
Prairie South School Division (Larissa Kurz photograph)

The question of who will pay for a traffic impact assessment for the proposed joint-use school in the Westheath subdivision has concerned a public school division trustee.  

The assessment will evaluate traffic operations under two development concepts on the Westheath site and assess post-development traffic operations in the area, including any necessary mitigation strategies, according to a report presented during the recent Prairie South School Division (PSSD) board meeting.

The division office expects the traffic impact assessment (TIA) to be completed by Sept. 25, at which point it will share the results with the City of Moose Jaw and then issue a news release after the Oct. 6 board meeting.

While reviewing the TIA update during the September board meeting, trustee Jan Radwanski questioned what it was about and who would pay for it.

The money will come from the account that funds the South Hill school project, explained education director Tony Baldwin. The Ministry of Education provided PSSD with $1.95 million for this project, while partner school division Holy Trinity also received funding from the ministry but not nearly as much.

“We fund all the activities connected to the work on the South Hill school with that money provided by the ministry,” Baldwin added.

Radwanski then wondered who asked for the traffic impact study in the first place. In response, Baldwin said such a study is typically conducted for projects such as this. While he wasn’t sure who offered to do it, he was interested to see the results. He then explained how the study would work, while he added that the division would share it with the municipality when it is completed.

“So, can you just confirm then, that this is an example of monies that were announced by the province for construction of a new joint-use school is because we’re not building on an existing school site, we’re having to use monies that are for classrooms and for other things for traffic studies because we’re building in a spot that wasn’t a previous school site?” Radwanski asked.

“No, that’s incorrect,” Baldwin said, explaining the division would have to conduct a TIA regardless of the proposed school site.

Since this is going to be a large school building, all the partners want to ensure it’s safe for residents in the surrounding neighbourhood, he continued. With expenses, there are at least two funding pools that include one for pre-construction activities — such as for a TIA — and another for the construction of the building and outfitting it with desks and equipment.

“So that $1.95 million that covers expenses prior to getting shovels in the ground, if we save some of that money, it doesn’t mean that’s additional money for the school,” said Baldwin. “The two pieces are unrelated, and we need the traffic assessment in any case.”

All the project partners are eager to see this school completed and to present it to the community, said board chair Robert Bachmann. He pointed out the board directed Baldwin to work with partners to secure the land on which to construct this new building. Trustees will receive a more comprehensive report on this next month.

A week after the board meeting, on Sept. 8, PSSD, Holy Trinity, the ministry and city council signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines the basic requirements to locate a joint-use school within the Westheath neighbourhood. The ministry required a decision about the MOU before it would make available the results of the TIA. During that meeting, two city councillors expressed their concerns about the location of the new school.

The next PSSD board meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 6.

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