Montreal

Quebec slams EMSB's 'stubbornness' over Galileo relocation plan

The EMSB voted to approve the plan, despite Education Minister Jean-François Roberge saying repeatedly it wouldn't be sufficient to address the shortage at the French Pointe-de-l'Île school board.

Moving adult education centre not 'a suitable solution' to space shortage, education minister says

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said the building housing the Galileo Adult Education Centre is not sufficient to handle the overcrowding in French-language schools in Montreal's east end. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

The Quebec government is condemning what it calls the English Montreal School Board's "stubbornness" regarding its plan to move the Galileo Adult Education Centre to give space to a French school board.

The EMSB voted to approve the plan at a special meeting Tuesday, despite Education Minister Jean-François Roberge's insistence it wouldn't be sufficient to address the shortage at the French-language Commission scolaire de Pointe-de-l'Île.

A spokesperson for Roberge repeated that position in an email Wednesday. 

"We still consider that the transfer of Galileo school and the relocation of highly vulnerable students attending this school is not a suitable solution," the statement said.

The EMSB has until June 10 to come up with an alternative proposal or the province will move ahead with the forced transfer of three EMSB schools (General Vanier and Gerald McShane elementary schools, John Paul I Junior High) to Pointe-de-l'Île, the statement said.

The French board needs space for an additional 3,000 students by next fall, and Roberge wants the EMSB — with many of its schools not operating at full capacity — to help.

"It is not too late for negotiation: a proper agreement between the two school boards would make the minister's intervention unnecessary," the statement said.

Quebec Premier François Legault blamed the previous Liberal government for not acting sooner to address the space shortage in Montreal's east end.

"It's unacceptable," he told reporters Wednesday.

"I really don't understand how the Liberal government got us into this situation where we don't have enough space for all the children."

Caught in the middle

Letizia Matteo, whose son attends Galileo, said she's upset by the possibility the centre could be moved. 

"I feel sad that it had come to this," she said. "It's time for us to be a community and work together to try to find a place for everybody."

The president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, Geoffrey Chambers, said he expects the EMSB to ultimately offer a package that includes Galileo and other assets to Pointe-de-l'Île. 

He said if the province insists on taking three EMSB schools, there will be legal action. 

"They cannot take those schools away," he said.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the EMSB voted to officially look into the possibility of cohabitating with the French board, in hopes of putting forward a solution by the June 10 deadline that will satisfy Roberge.

"I think it's important we exhaust every means of negotiation possible, looking at everything, other than of course transferring buildings," said EMSB vice-chair Joe Ortona.

''The minister keeps saying that we have to come up with an acceptable agreement. Let's see if that's really possible.''

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