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Alberta Birds of Prey Centre could move if new school is built in Coaldale

Click to play video: 'Concerns raised over new Coaldale school and rec centre' Concerns raised over new Coaldale school and rec centre
WATCH ABOVE: Some Coaldale residents aren't too pleased with a proposal to put a new school and recreation centre in the northwest section of the town. On Tuesday night, the school division and town held an information session for their plans. Kyle Benning reports – Feb 13, 2019

For years, the sights and sounds at the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale have been staples for bird lovers.

But those days could be numbered.

Colin Weir, the organization’s managing director, said a proposal for a new high school and recreational centre near the Birds of Prey headquarters is making them feel pushed out.

“We really feel deceived and misled, unfortunately, and it really questions our long-term place in Coaldale [and] even if we want to keep operating here in the community,” Weir said.

READ MORE: Palliser Regional Schools combatting space issues in Coaldale schools

Many residents, Weir included, agree that these new facilities are needed, but some aren’t pleased with the location.

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“I’m really excited about a rec centre and a high school coming to Coaldale,” said resident Liz Allen. “We are outgrowing our schools; we do need a new one. We just need to be sensible about where we’re putting it.”

The proposed location, however, doesn’t align with the Coaldale and Lethbridge County Integrated Development Strategy, a report that was put together at the end of 2011. The report stated the area for the proposed school is ideal for a water management centre, but it was never adopted by the town.

“It was a high-level conceptual plan. It wasn’t actually meant to be taken literal in terms of the locations for storm water expansion,” said Coaldale’s chief administrative officer Kalen Hastings.

READ MORE: Alberta Birds of Prey Centre opens new Owl Amphitheatre

Saying the town has been up front with the foundation, Hastings added the town doesn’t want to push out the Birds of Prey Centre and doesn’t see this as an either-or scenario.

Weir, however, disagrees and said this project could prompt the organization to consider nesting somewhere else.

“So after we’ve invested the last 25 or 30 years in Coaldale and millions and millions of dollars, we’re sort of beginning to question if we’re really wanted here in the future,” he said.

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Allen said she’s planning to send a petition to the education minister urging him to not approve the plan.

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