The other day, Education Minister David Eggen announced a number of school construction projects will be delayed. 101 to be exact. What immediately ensued was a blame game between NDP and PCs, but what locals need to know is that there is a silver lining.
Among those delayed projects is the proposed Aldersyde high school project.
Yes, I'm happy a school construction project in my area has been delayed.
This extra time will give the Foothills School Division an opportunity to take a step back and re-engage with the public from the ground up. They have come under fire by parents, community members, and myself for not having allowed serious consideration of the location on the Wedderburn lands on the northeast corner of the Town of Okotoks. Now that the school project is delayed, and not expected to be completed until 2018, they have time to really look at that properly.
Parents want that. Community needs it. And above all, it's best for Okotoks' students.
I am concerned that there is an aura of "we're going to tell you how it is" coming from the Foothills School Division. So naturally I'm going to follow up with my buddy the Education Minister to remind him of the issues, and ask that he give the Foothills School Division the gentle nudge it needs to re-engage with its stakeholders. We should be working together, and the back-and-forth through the media has been divisive.
If, after those consultations, it still makes sense to build in Aldersyde, in the words of Jean-Luc Picard, "make it so". I highly doubt that, but the purpose of consultations is to consider all options based upon their merits. At the end of each criteria used to justify the school division's choice must be the question "is this really the best for the students?" If it is, energize.
As a side-note, the blame game between NDP and PCs is disappointing and entirely beside the point. It shouldn't matter who caused it. Tell me your solutions. So far the only solution comes from the NDP saying something to the tune of "we need to fix the processes". But the PCs seem to be quite happy shouting "I didn't do it" over the radio stations through their current interim mouthpiece Ric McIver.
First of all, Albertans aren't stupid. They saw the delays with the southeast leg of Stoney Trail in Calgary. The saw the delays with the twinning of Highway 63. They saw the delays in the deliveries of portables to schools after the 2013 Flood. They heard the PC's announcements short months before an election adding to the school construction project list to bring it to a total of more than 230 projects. In each case announcements came with absolutely no possibility of completion on time. It became commonplace to expect when a construction project was announced and a timeline given, that some contractor would come up with some ludicrous way of saying they can meet the timeline, only to be delayed. Albertans were so used to it, they would add on an extra 6 months to any announced timeline because they knew it was going to be delayed anyway. Albertans aren't stupid, they weren't buying it then, they aren't buying it now.
Mr. McIver, the NDP called your party out on your shell game before, now they are again today. Stop whining. You sound like Junior Asparagus in the tale of the broken plate.
It was your party, Mr. McIver, who chose to announce those school projects with no funding guaranteed. Minister Eggen found that funding shortly after you were out of office. You want to know what they've been doing? They've been cleaning up your mess.
Minister Eggen, please don't forget that in the mess of delayed projects you are cleaning up, there are also other issues at play. It's not all politics and blame games. It's about students. And students shouldn't be bussed 10 minutes outside their community to study in an industrial zone.
There is a silver lining. We have the chance now, let's get this done right.