Moncton High move 'decision taken,' Williams says

The Alward government is facing fresh calls for more public discussion about the decision to build a new Moncton High School in the Royal Oaks area of the city.

DEC chairman Harry Doyle says new school site is 'an issue in the community'

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams says there is no need to host a public meeting over the site for the new Moncton High School.

Moncton city councillors and the chairman of the District Education Council have all called for a public meeting to discuss the proposed location for the new school.

Williams said the new location, which is on the outskirts of the city, was chosen in part because more than 80 per cent of the students are already bused to the current downtown location.

Williams said he also wants to avoid any more delays in building the new school.

"The debate has already occurred, the decision has been taken. We are working on the plan. The land has been purchased and some site work is going to start very shortly," Williams said.

Williams is not disclosing why 19 other locations in the city were rejected. The infrastructure minister is also not saying where the other sites were located.

Williams said that information is confidential.

DEC chairman requests meeting

The chairman of the District 2 Education Council is calling on the Department of Education to review its decision to build the new Moncton High School in the Royal Oaks area of the city.

Harry Doyle, the chairman of the local education council, said he has no reason to doubt the provincial government's decision to move the school to the neighbourhood but he said there is growing opposition to the plan.

Doyle said he saw people pack the council meeting on Monday night in Moncton to oppose the school’s move.

Doyle said he's told the Department of Education about the local concern over the location of the new school.

"I don't think we can ignore — either the DEC or the government — can ignore what we heard [Monday] night," he said.

"It's certainly an issue in the community. I don't know if anybody would be wise to ignore that."

The education council chairman said he had no say in the provincial government’s decision and he never made any suggestions on where the new school should be built.

Education Minister Jody Carr announced in July 2011 the new school would be located in the Royal Oaks subdivision off Elmwood Drive.

He described the decision as a "bold response."

The provincial government looked at more than 20 potential sites before choosing Royal Oaks.

Moncton East Liberal MLA Chris Collins said he's been trying for months to find out why the Royal Oaks site was chosen over the 19 others in the city.

"We don't know why they're moving out there, we don't know where the other potential sites would have been and we believe that this government should be forthcoming with that information," he said.

Public meeting sought

More than 100 people showed up at a city council meeting on Monday night to oppose the school’s location.

For the first time the citizens heard all 10 Moncton city councillors speak out against the proposed development..

City councillors agreed a public forum with the provincial government is needed to discuss the proposed site of the new school.

Coun. Daniel Bourgeois said Carr and Williams should welcome the opportunity to address the citizens’ concerns.

"If it is the best decision, it should be a slam dunk for Minister Williams and Minister Carr to come down to Moncton and explain to the citizens why they have chosen that particular site," he said.

The new school became necessary after a series of health and safety problems were discovered with the existing high school.

The provincial government intends to have the new school ready for students in 2013.