Queen Elizabeth Annex (QEA) is a safe and happy community for 70 French Immersion students from kindergarten to Grade 3 located in the heart of Dunbar. But it will soon be gone if we – parents at the school and the larger community – can’t convince the Vancouver School Board to reject plans to close it and sell the large property it sits on.
The QEA Parent Advisory Committee has taken every available opportunity so far to argue for our school – we’ve written, phoned, attended meetings and even held an outdoor protest. Our efforts will continue, but we hope the broader Dunbar community will get involved too. Trustees are scheduled to make their final decision on May 30, so our request is urgent.
It would be no surprise to us if you haven’t heard of the plans yet, as the school board has rushed them along in an incredibly non-transparent process at the height of a pandemic. The initial meeting with the board of trustees was Jan. 17, with just 48 hours’ notice, given over a weekend. At that hastily called meeting, the board made a recommendation to close and sell the school, which sits on a large property adjacent to Camosun Bog and Pacific Spirit Park.
There are many reasons why the removal of this site from educational use by the VSB and its subsequent sale – either to the francophone school board or a private school – doesn’t make sense and will negatively impact the Dunbar community.
Aside from the fact that QEA is a uniquely popular, much-loved and successful school, it is illogical to close an elementary school and dispose of these precious lands at a time when plans are progressing to increase family housing in Dunbar and adjacent areas. These plans mean it is likely the VSB will need to expand school spots in Dunbar in the short and medium-term. Buying sites like the one QEA sits on will be prohibitively expensive, if not impossible, in the future. The school board should save this land for future generations of Dunbar-area children.
Another argument is an environmental one. If the site is sold to either the francophone board or to another private school, it would mean many students being driven to the school from other parts of the city, instead of walking there, as our kids do. That means traffic congestion and a strain on the environment, especially as we understand the francophone board plans to build a much bigger, 435-student school on the site.
Ultimately, the VSB is entrusted to manage and maintain educational assets and resources in the public’s interest over the long term. To sell off resources to meet short-term needs during a time of growth is bad planning and a violation of the public’s trust. If we lose this precious community asset, it will be gone forever.
What you can do:
For more information, visit http://www.qea-pac.ca/advocacy/ or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please help sign and share our online petition at https://www.change.org/p/no-school-closures-transparent-planning-first/