Proposed site of Coaldale school draws concerns over students crossing highway and railway tracks
Published Tuesday, May 28, 2019 3:40PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2019 6:19PM MDT
Town of Coaldale officials say safety was a key factor in selecting the location of the town's new school and community recreation centre but some residents are questioning the decision to build on the opposite side of the highway from the majority of the town's population.
A group of community members gathered in protest on Tuesday and suggested the town ignored significant safety concerns in choosing the site, known as Site A, in northwest Coaldale. The majority of the town's students will need to cross Highway 3 and the CP rail tracks, either on foot, bicycle, car or bus, every school day.
Lindsey and Kyle Frache, parents to four young children, are part of the group that is urging town officials to reconsider the site.
"You're shipping kids across a very, very busy highway, and then you have the railroad crossing," said Lindsey Frache. "It's just an unsafe place for kids to get across."
"We need to stop this," added Kyle Frache. "We need to involve the citizens of Coaldale."
The group claims there are a number of suitable sites in south Coaldale that could have been selected without potentially putting students at risk. The selected location for the school and recreation centre is situated west of the Birds of Prey Centre and the Fraches claim there was a lack of public consultation ahead of the decision.
Kyle Frache believes he and his fellow concerned residents need to increase public awareness to the issues with the chosen site before construction begins.
"I made up signs, maybe we have to start making it more publicized as far as flyers and stuff like that go," said Kyle Frache. "Get more people involved because that's what we need to do."
"It's just not safe. We know that."
According to Town of Coaldale officials, the municipality's selection of a location followed a number of community consultation and information sessions prior to, and following, the town's submission to the province for funding consideration.
Kalen Hastings, Coaldale's chief administrative officer, says the town has had active discussions with Alberta Transportation, CP Rail and Transport Canada regarding the development of infrastructure upgrades to improve safety. Potential improvements include traffic signals, a pedestrian overpass, a reduced speed limit, and new pathways.
"The decision about where to put a school is as much about today as it is tomorrow," said Hastings. "There's going to be an additional estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people living on the north side of Coaldale in the next 20 years so this location is going to help Coaldale become a more complete community."
The issue will return to council on Monday, June 10 as administration is scheduled to provide an overview of the project including the research and the feasibility analysis that led to the selection of the site.
With files from CTV's Terry Vogt