North

Pause school renovation for more money, says Yellowknife francophone association

The parent’s association representing Yellowknife’s francophone students is asking the territorial government to put their renovation plans for École Allain St.-Cyr on hold.

Heritage Canada has funding available to meet community needs, but territorial government needs to ask: APADY

Yellowknife's École Allain St-Cyr will be getting a new gym and two new classrooms next year. L’association des parents ayants droits de Yellowknife is asking the government to apply for additional federal funding so the renovation meets other needs in the francophone community.

The parent's association representing Yellowknife's francophone students is asking the territorial government to put their renovation plans for École Allain St.-Cyr on hold.

There's more federal money up for grabs from Heritage Canada, which provides funding to support francophone communities in anglophone Canada. This funding could be used to expand the school's gym and add office space for francophone community organizations, says Jacques Lamarche, the former president of L'association des parents ayants droits de Yellowknife (APADY).

To get this funding, however, the territorial government would have to delay its plan to put the project out for tender early next month.

"We're asking them to just hold off on the plans, go to Heritage Canada with the community needs, see what they come back with and then modify the plans accordingly, then go to RFP and go nuts, and we'd all be on board," says Lamarche.

More than the mandatory

After half a decade of legal battles between the territorial government and the francophone community over the provision of schools for French-speaking students, the government is finally expanding École Allain St-Cyr.

A request for proposal for the construction is expected to be released next month, says Lamarche.
Jacques Lamarche and Océane Coulaudoux, former president and current president of L’association des parents ayants droits de Yellowknife. (Mark Rendell/CBC )

"We're very content with [the Department of Education, Culture and Employment], that they're willing to give us two additional classrooms," he says.

But Yellowknife's francophone community has other needs for physical space which could be rolled into upcoming construction at no extra cost to the territorial government, he adds.

"For all of the community spaces that are 100 per cent community — so let's say the office for Jeunesse TNO — Canadian Heritage, if they accept it, would pay 100 per cent of it. 

"It's a win win situation: [the territorial government] saves money, we get additional offices or whatever, so everybody is happy and it all happens in the same construction."  

The kicker: because the territorial government owns the school, they're the only ones who can apply for the additional funding.

Government already moving forward: Moses

Responding to questions about additional federal funding on Oct. 19 in the legislative assembly, Education Minister Alfred Moses said his government was already "following what the court order has said that we had to build."

"We did put in a proposal to Heritage Canada. They haven't even done a call out. We're ahead of the game," said Moses. 

And "even though we did put in one proposal to see if we can offset some of these costs, it doesn't mean that we couldn't put in another application when they do that call out afterwards," he added.

For Lamarche, it makes little sense to put in one proposal now for the basic school needs, and add another one later for the extra community needs.

"We're not asking them to scrap the project, we're just asking for a pause," he said. "It doesn't cost GNWT a penny, they just add it to the plans." 

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