Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Green Space More Important than New School

(photo credit Lindsay Murray)

Dear Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz and Chair of WCDSB Manuel da Silva,

I am writing this letter to let you know that as a resident of Breslau I have significant concerns with your plans to build a new school in the green space directly behind my house.  While I acknowledge the need for this school and the desperate need in Breslau for a proper library and accompanying services, I strongly disagree with your chosen location or the way this project has been handled.  Several years ago my family built a new home in Breslau and we selected a new lot based on the characteristic that the lot backed onto open green space.  This characteristic cost me a $5000 premium added to my purchase price.  I did not pay $5000 to the builder so that I can look at a school building, do you plan on providing me a refund?

Secondly, you are proposing that this is a good location for this school because it will allow the school to share the community centre gym.  I have doubts that a gymnasium can be shared as my experiences have taught me that gym time often comes at a premium.  Especially with daily physical activity being involved in the school curriculum.  What do you propose to do with existing programs that run during the day at the community centre gym now?  Will sharing this space with a school limit the expansion of programs because the school will require the space?  As a community gym we should be focusing on developing community programs through out the entire day, accessible to as many members of the community as possible I can see this "shared gym" becoming exclusively "catholic school gym" very quickly.  Just like my premium "shared" green space being turned into a school.

Additionally, Breslau is significantly larger than other parts of the township yet the region has consistently dragged it's feet to provide us proper library services.  Many of us in Breslau feel better served by the Kitchener Public Library then we do by our own system and now you try to use this school to get us a library.  We deserve a library based on our population size and the potential circulation of much needed items and services.  There is no need to link it to a new project.

Thirdly, two schools in such close proximity in Breslau would create a traffic nightmare every morning and afternoon.  Our fully open and accessible public school in Breslau already has a traffic problem every morning because of the community that has built up around it.  Your proposed school location will cause more traffic problems because our subdivision only has a 3 connections to Woolwich Street.  Currently, Shields St is locked up at 8:20am & 2:40pm and Dolman St. also has increased traffic.  The proposed location for this school would lock up the final connection, Andover Drive.

I significantly value my green space and I don't think I need to start quoting the large body of research knowledge that green space has significant positive outcomes in health and well being.  I encourage you to build this school on land that does not already have a purpose.  When you take away green space you never get it back.  The photo above (provided by my neighbour) shows the space that you want your school on. As the end of Woolwich township that often gets over looked for upgrades I welcome the idea that we want to upgrade the facilities and the park.  They are badly needed but so is the space your want this school on. You may not come down to Breslau and visit much but people use this space.  All of it.  From kites to bocce to baseball to soccer to picnics on the grass to kids on bikes.  This is not empty space!  There is plenty of empty undeveloped space only a few hundred metres away please look over there!  Save the community centre for the entire community and build a school for the selected Catholic students that get to attend on actual empty space.

I would like to finish of by saying as someone who will definitely be affected by this school building why do I learn about this via the newspaper.  Communication here was definitely lacking and I am assuming, now that the can of worms is opened, you may be getting a bit more communication then you bargained for.  I support Breslau Memorial Park upgrades, I support a much needed library facility in our ever growing town, I support forward thinking development in Breslau, I support the construction of a school, I do not support this location.

Thank you for your time.

Matthew VanderMeer
Breslau Resident

Here is a follow up post to this and a call to action!