nb-si-moncton-high

Moncton High School, which is located downtown, is slated to be replaced by a new building in the Royal Oaks subdivision by 2014. ((CBC))

A court challenge by a group fighting the provincial government's decision to build a new Moncton high school on the outskirts of the city will go ahead, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge has ruled.

The government had filed a motion to have the legal action by the group of four Moncton citizens dismissed.

But Justice Zoel Dionne ruled Monday that the matter should proceed.

The group is relieved, said Scott Agnew, one of the applicants and vocal opponent of the move, as spokesman for a group called Royal Hoax.

Agnew and his fellow applicants are seeking a judicial review of the government's decision to replace the old Moncton High School, which is located downtown, with a new building in the Royal Oaks subdivision, off Elmwood Drive.

'It's very similar to the French immersion situation, but this one is actually more serious in that we believe that the government actually acted illegally.' —Scott Agnew, Royal Hoax spokesman

"You know, we've attempted to have meetings and just get some basic questions answered about this whole Royal Oaks situation and we've been stonewalled in every single situation," said Agnew.

"The government simply refuses to engage with the citizens of Moncton and tell them why, you know, explain to us the decision because it doesn't make sense on so many levels so really this is the first time we really, I guess, had our fight validated," he said.

"The court said ‘No, there's merit to this case, it's going to go ahead’ and the court's going to make a decision. So we felt pretty good after yesterday."

Agnew’s group contends the government failed to consult the public on the high school project, and violated both the Community Planning and Education acts by building the school outside the serviceable boundaries of the city.

"It's very similar to the French immersion situation, but this one is actually more serious in that we believe that the government actually acted illegally," Agnew said.

Government officials have declined to comment, saying the matter is still before the courts.

The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7.

The group, which filed its legal action in June, is asking the court to quash the government's decision.

Citizens have repeatedly requested the new school be located closer to the city’s downtown. They have held rallies and submitted petitions.

The former city council and the Opposition Liberals have also spoken out against moving the high school to the Royal Oaks location.

Government officials have said they scouted more than 20 potential sites before choosing Royal Oaks in July, 2011.

The new school is scheduled to open in 2014, a year later than scheduled due to construction delays.

The estimated 1,300 students and staff will remain at the old school until the new building is ready, officials have said.