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Time of essence for new school in east end

The public school board’s plans for a new east end school on Couling Crescent have taken into account the traffic concerns of neighbours, city council was told Monday.
The Upper Grand District School Board is seeking rezoning of a vacant four-acre site at 21 Couling Cres., at the southeast corner of Couling and Watson Parkway, so a school can be built there. The site is currently zoned for up to an eight-storey building, council was told.
Monday’s meeting was the initial public meeting that precedes any recommendations being made to council by city planning staff. The school board needs the site to be rezoned by October so construction can start in the summer of 2015, council was told.
The aim is to have a two-storey school for 500 students, likely junior kindergarten to Grade 8, open in September 2016. “It is tight timing,” said Jennifer Passy, the school board’s planning manager. “We hope we can work with (city) staff to try and make that.” Making it a JK-8 school is “the premise we are working with in terms of conceptual design,” she told council.
Residents have expressed concerns that the school could worsen traffic problems at the corner of Couling and Severn Drive. The school board is proposing some measures to deal with such concerns, including direct vehicular access to Watson that should reduce the need to use local streets such as Couling, said board consultant Astrid Clos.
Attendance boundaries haven’t yet been set for the school, which will be next to the existing Morningcrest Park. However, it’s expected the school will take children living east of Victoria Road, Passy said.
Coun. Jim Furfaro questioned the safety of children in an area lacking sidewalks and near busy roads like Watson. Passy replied that “safe walking routes” would be determined once the school’s boundaries have been set.

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