Air quality near Moncton school concerns parents

Parents, teachers and school board members are trying to come up with a way to deal with the industrial smell that permeates the air at a Moncton elementary school.

Air quality concerns at École Champlain will be discussed at Monday meeting

Parents, teachers and school board members will use a meeting on Monday to try and come up with a way to deal with the industrial smell that permeates the air at a Moncton elementary school.

Solange Gagnon, a member of the school’s parents committee, said on most days it is hard to detect that École Champlain is situated close to several industrial businesses.

But Gagnon said the smell from those businesses starts to waft into the school when the weather changes.

The quality of the air near the Moncton elementary school has been a major concern in recent years for parents and students. While government tests have concluded the air is safe, that hasn't stopped the complaints.

"Earlier this week, the school decided to bring the kids in after they'd been dropped off by the bus. They felt it was too much of a strong odour for the kids to be playing in the park," she said.

She said officials from the school board are due to meet on Monday with the city to look at options.

"I would hope that they could come together with an action plan and clear timing as well. We've got to put deadlines on some action items that will come out on Monday to make sure that we have a goal to work towards and it's not going to be another 10 years before we see improvements," she said.

"It's got to get done fairly quickly so we can improve the situation here at the school."

Some of the options include relocating the school or the nearby businesses.

The school was built in 1969 when only the asphalt plant, which is roughly 150 metres away, was in the neighbourhood. There are now dozens of industrial companies that have cropped up near the kindergarten-to-Grade 5 school.

In 2009, Gagnon organized a public meeting so parents could discuss their concerns about the air quality in the area.

Gagnon said inspectors have never found any air quality violations, but the smell does occasionally get so strong it may give kids headaches or upset stomachs.

"We're at the point now that we have to find another solution because the last three weeks has been really horrible for the kids with the atmospheric pressure being very low," she said.

"We've had a lot of rain. So the smells have been very bad over the last three weeks."