Dunrae Gardens elementary school has been around for 91 years, but a Facebook post suggests it could lose its schoolyard or even worse.
The conflict began with a post on Liberal MNA Pierre Arcand’s Facebook page in which he pointed out that an overcrowded French school is using its schoolyard for classrooms, alongside a photo of an empty playground at the nearby English school.
In the text, Arcand writes, “Land next to the Dunrae School is available”
Those words sent off a firestorm of reaction.
What followed were dozens of hurt and angry comments, with even the town’s mayor wading in.
“Dunrae is an institution here in TMR and if someone wants to close it we will fight for it,” says Philippe Roy, Town of Mount Royal mayor in an interview with Global News.
The post was also picked up the online community Save Our East End Schools.
“It’s not an initiative starting from me, it’s an initiative that started under the Marguerite Bourgeoys school board at the time,” Arcand told Global News in a phone interview.
The town of Mount Royal has seven schools, and two of them are English. The mayor says he wants another school but not at the cost of losing one.
“As the mayor of TMR I’m always going to defend all the schools we have. Right now we have three primary schools who are overpopulated and we need this fourth school,” Roy told Global News.
The Save Our East End Schools Facebook post called out Arcand, writing that “it is extremely irresponsible of Mr. Arcand to suggest the CAQ simply take from the English minority community.”
Others joined in, leaving comments such as, “He should mind his business,” “No to this nonsense” and “This is ridiculous.”
“I’m only there to promote new schools in TMR in the primary sector, not at the expense of the other. My understanding is that there’s a project of that nature to build a new French school in TMR with the minister of education,” Arcand told Global News.
Quebec’s education minister says there are no plans to take away another English school.
“In the past years, we did have to make tough decisions to help English school boards to transfer half-empty schools to the francophone school board. We don’t plan to make this decision again,” says Education Minister Jean-François Roberge.
The English Montreal School Board is not commenting on the matter. One staff member at Dunrae Gardens elementary school told Global News that the land is being used by the school and it is not available.