Parents at John Robson Elementary want a new school, but they have concerns about traffic, noise and air-quality at the Royal Avenue location - especially if TransLink builds a six-lane replacement Pattullo Bridge, Robson's parent advisory council chair said.
Serena Trachta told The Record that the school's parent advisory recently sent a survey to parents to weigh in on the plans to build a replacement elementary school at the former St. Mary's Hospital site, located near the Royal Avenue entrance to the bridge.
"(The) survey asked parents to comment on noise pollution, safe access to the school (traffic safety), drop off and pickup logistics, parking and general environmental issues related to the new site," Trachta wrote in an email. "The majority of respondents had concerns related to these topics."
The parent council received responses from about 30 per cent of the families attending Robson, Trachta wrote.
Trachta wants to see a "comprehensive" study on how a possible expansion of the Pattullo Bridge would impact traffic around the newly situated school, which is located beside busy Royal Avenue.
Trachta said the school's parent council wants to give a voice to Robson parents and have as many parents as possible involved in the process.
"We are trying to do our best to get involved in the process and be part of the team because the parents are going to be an integral part of the school once it is done," she said. "The more we can work together on this with the district, the administration and the teachers the better the outcome will be."
Trachta, a mother of two, is an architect.
"I think that's one of the reasons I was asked to be PAC president," she said, laughing. "So that I could help translate this process and try to do my best to understand what's being done, and what's being said and what it means in layman's terms."
The school district and the city held an open house on Wednesday on the status of the school project.
The three firms in the running are Bouyges Building Canada Ltd., DGS Construction Company Ltd. and Yellowridge Design Build Ltd.
The school is expected to be occupied by January of 2014, Trachta said.
Board of education chair James Janzen said the school district wants air-quality testing done.
"We actually have just sent off some letters to the city, Metro Vancouver and TransLink outlining those concerns and, in particular, asking the city and Metro Vancouver to do more air-quality testing around the area," Janzen said.
Janzen was told at a neighbourhood traffic advisory committee meeting that air-quality testing was recently done at city hall and that, "everything was fine."
School trustees are also concerned about the impact of a six-lane bridge. In March, the board of education unanimously endorsed a motion to oppose expansion of the Pattullo Bridge.
The school district held a series of public workshops in 2009 to determine the best location for a new middle school for students in the city's West End.
The options that came out of the workshops were to build a middle school at Lord Kelvin, then either replace Kelvin on the high school site at the corner of Eighth Street and Eighth Avenue or expand capacity at the surrounding elementary schools, or build a middle school on the Robson site and replace Robson at Saint Mary's.
Saint Mary's squeaked by as the favourite, with about 38 per cent of attendees saying it was their top option compared to the Kelvin plan, which received just slightly less support at 35 per cent, according to a district report.
Prior to the public workshops, Grimston Park was proposed as a possible location for a new elementary school. Under that plan, a new middle school would be built on the Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary school site. Grimston Park neighbours, who didn't want a school built on their park, rallied against the plan.