After much debate — and concerns expressed by area residents — Coaldale Town Council voted in favour Monday of a location at which to potentially build a new high school and multi-use recreational building.
Two weeks ago, at the May 27 meeting of council, citizens came forward with concerns about the site, which sits in the northwest area of town.
With the majority of citizens living south of Highway 3, accessing the building for many would require crossing the highway and a major railroad. That sparked concerns about the safety of potential future students and users of the rec centre.
Kyle Frache has been attending council meetings and rallying residents against Site A, the location councillors voted to approve Monday. He said he believes his worries may have fallen onto deaf ears.
“It seems like they’ve made a decision on their own accord, obviously,” Frache said. “There is no other site options available — it’s just Site A — and it sounds like it’s going in regardless.”
Frache expressed concern over whether Mayor Kim Craig and council explored the potential for approving a different site; something Frache said was supposed to happen Monday.
But within the first five minutes of Monday’s meeting, Frache and two other citizens voiced their frustrations with council.
Craig said he believes that the few upset residents weren’t prepared to listen to the information presented.
“We wanted to try and address all the concerns that were brought up,” Craig said. “And you know, it’s unfortunate that the people who asked for those pieces of information weren’t able to stay and engage long enough with the valuable information that the town staff produced.”
Craig’s town staff put together a report that is about 600 pages in length. Presentations on Monday were conducted by the town’s chief administrative officer, other town staff, CP Rail and the Coaldale fire chief.
Coaldale was compared to other similarly-sized towns.
Locations of schools, train tracks, major highways, rec centres and emergency response buildings were examined, as well as population distribution.
At the end of the presentations, council voted in favour of Site A.
Craig said that the next step is getting approval from the province for the new high school.