Candidates stay neutral on Nuns' Island school controversy
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 1:13PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2012 1:14PM EDT
MONTREAL - A controversial plan to build a much-needed school on a corner of green space in Nuns' Island has created a rift between among locals in the posh Verdun neighbourhood.
The borough has promised to replace the green space lost in La Fontaine Park with another nearby patch, but some remain strongly opposed nonetheless.
The opponents had undertaken measures to block the plan, but the province changed Montreal’s charter in June, giving the city powers to exempt school construction from possible zoning referendums.
So now that the provincial authorities have entered the mix, a Verdun candidates meeting attracted many of the players involved in the polarizing debate.
Liberal candidate Henri. F. Gautrin, Thierry St. Cyr of the PQ and Andre Besner of the CAQ were present, but none took a firm position on the school controversy.
“I heard what I expected to hear tonight: a political campaign nothing concrete, no commitments,” said one.
“I’m disappointed, I would have liked to have seen positions made clearer,” said another.
One proponent of the elementary school construction believes that the older population is failing to empathize with the needs of the young.
“There might be a bit of a generational clash between the older people and the young families,”said Claude Giguere of the Nuns' Island Families' Association.
One opponent of the school construction would like the province to amend its school zoning referendum exemption to help preserve park space.
“I think they could just add three or four words that would say 'this does not apply to landscaped parks,’ that would guarantee that we could let democracy speak,” said Jack Kugelmass of the Nuns' Island Sustainable Development Committee.
Giguere, however, says that the opponents are leading children to suffer, as they will have to be bused off the island to attend school.
“They want to impose this two-hour bus journey on five-year-old kids which is completely ridiculous,” said Giguere.