To the Editor,
Re: City swaps land for Pioneer Forest, Dec. 6.
The essence of the slant of the story leaves the impression public concern over the future of Pioneer Forest created the direct decision to craft co-operation between the Nanaimo school board and the city.
As a former school trustee, I served on the facilities planning committee for years with two other trustees and staff. This committee had the responsibility to meet, separately, on a regular basis, with representatives of the city, regional board, Town of Ladysmith and other agencies to work on issues of land use co-operation related to growth, recreation opportunities and rationalization of conflicts.
School districts in B.C. could not legally hold title to land for school purposes until 1947. Nanaimo is one of the oldest communities in B.C., therefore coal companies, individuals and the city would offer land on which schools needed to be built.
One of the major discussions with the City of Nanaimo over the years was the need for more playing fields.
The district had them and the city did not. The city had the revenue to upgrade the fields and the district did not. You can see why co-operation would benefit the whole community.
With changes in the political and administrative leadership at the city and the district within the last five years, the time was ripe to get on with what had been talked about for more than a decade.
The district developed a strategic plan that calls for the rationalization of facilities and property within a long-term district facilities plan.
A key ingredient was the development of an asset management plan suggested to the board a few years ago by Phil Turin, district secretary-treasurer.
The report provided the key to opening of serious conversations with the city and other local governments over the past few years and the preparation of a report that folded in the exchange of land between the city and district that was long overdue. Pioneer Park was just one of the issues to be addressed.
City council and staff and school board trustees and staff need to be congratulated for taking this important step for the benefit of the whole community.