New Moncton High location fight is over, developer says

Moncton city council and citizens are wasting their time trying to keep Moncton High School downtown, according to a land developer.

Moncton city council and citizens are wasting their time trying to keep Moncton High School downtown, according to a local land developer.

Greg Coleman said he has signed deal with the provincial government that a new school will be built in his development at Royal Oaks at the north end of the city.

Coleman said there is nothing city council or those who want to keep the school downtown can do about it.

"The decision about the high school is a decision that's already been made, by the province. There's a legally binding agreement that's been signed," he said.

The Department of Education announced last July that a new high school would be located in the Royal Oaks subdivision off of Elmwood Drive. Education Minister Jody Carr called the location a "bold response."

But that decision has frustrated some citizens who are lobbying to keep the school downtown.

Coleman is asking the city to help pay for water, sewers and roads to his development north of the city.

Moncton High School was closed in 2010 over health and safety concerns. The provincial government invested $2 million into the 75-year-old facility so students could go back to the school.

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

Citizens upset

Scott Agnew is one of the citizens that is asking the provincial government to renovate the historic high school. Agnew said he is upset by Coleman’s stance.

"He emphatically stated this is a done deal and there's nothing anyone can do about it, that to me was akin to holding a gun to council's head and as a citizen of Moncton I'm offended by that," Agnew said.

Coun. Nancy Hoar said there has also been pressure from the provincial government to approve this project.

"We've basically been threatened by the province that if we don't go along with it they won't give us money for other projects," Hoar said.

Anne Marie Picone Ford is another person who is trying to save the school. Picone Ford, who ran as a Liberal candidate in 2010, said she is shocked by the allegations that the provincial government would threaten the city.

"City council has a very difficult job ahead of them when they know there's a done deal and if they are being threatened to have to do certain things in order for certain things to happen. It's very sad," she said.

The protesters say they'll still show up at the public hearings on this issue next month.