I have been silent, regarding this matter but enough is enough. Our MHA, Pam Parsons, since elected wants everyone to believe that she is the only person who has ever fought for Coley’s Point Primary. That is false, untrue, and indeed misleading.
In the article Mayor Wood quite rightly points out “this is not just a brand new issue. This issue has been at the forefront for the past 15-20 years.” In fact many people have raised their voices loud and clear in many forums to this issue.
My personal involvement goes back to 2005 representing the Town of Bay Roberts at a public consultation concerning the closure and reconfiguration of schools within the region. In fact, one of the reasons I ran in 2007 and again in 2011 was to support the replacement of Coley’s Point Primary.
In the article Ms. Parsons states no work on the project has been done up to this point. This is an insult to the people who have worked tirelessly for nearly 20 years to see the replacement of the school. This includes the previous school councils who did several presentations to government, the school board, former Ministers of Education, Town officials, and former administrators like Ms. Joy Brown, who advocated tirelessly through the years.
If nothing was done why did this government cancel Coley’s Point Primary in Budget 2016? Why did they defer a decision for three years? Did they take all the work and progress and throw it out the window? If nothing had been done, if this school was never planned, then there was no need to cancel or defer this school. The fact is a lot has been done; a lot of progress was made before her involvement.
I could give a history lesson on the issue, but I will focus on a timeline from 2013 to present. In mid-summer 2013, school board officials came to the town to identify a potential site(s) for a new Coley’s Point Primary. In late 2013, with a preferred site identified, contact was made with the landowner. It was agreed that a land appraisal be done to assess the value of the land. This process took some time and when the parties couldn’t agree a second appraisal was agreed upon. Once again, time passed and the parties still couldn’t agree on a sale price. It became obvious that the parties would not agree on a sale price, therefore Minister of Transportation and Works, David Brazil, ordered officials to begin the expropriation process for the land. This was completed prior to the 2015 election and monies were allocated for the land purchase.
During 2014-15, work behind the scenes was progressing. The school floor plan was sent to the school administrator for evaluation and recommendation by school staff and school council. A preliminary design was completed giving individuals a first chance to see what the school would physically look like and officials had been on site looking at potential access sites to the new school. All this was done.
In closing, I didn’t get my wish to see the physical structure started when I was in office, but I will continue to advocate for its construction. I’m proud to say with the help of many people we were in a place to see it become reality prior to the Liberals forming government. With all this being said, the facts speak for themselves. It is unfair to mislead people into believing there was nothing done on a replacement school for Coley’s Point Primary.
I thank you for your time and space.
— Glenn Littlejohn writes from Bay Roberts