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Petition proves ‘ironclad case’ for school

James Pretorius, 12, (left) and his 10-year-old brother Edward are helping their parents make signs and collect signatures in support of a school in their neighbourhood. They want a school built at 198A Street and 70 Avenue. The west side of the land is to the left of the boys.

The hundreds of signatures on a petition prove that there is an ironclad case for an elementary school in the Routley subdivision, according to petition organizer, Pete Pretorius.

After four days of canvassing door to door, he and members of his team, who include his parents and sons, have collected the signatures of more than 800 people, he said.

“There is an overwhelming need for a school,” he added.

The land on which residents had expected an elementary school lies on the northeast corner of 198A Street and 70 Avenue, and the house Pretorius shares with his wife, parents, and sons James, 12, and Edward, 10, is on 198A Street, opposite the heavily-wooded property.

The land is part of an exchange agreement between the Township, Langley School District and a developer. On June 27, a public hearing was held for a rezoning application which, if approved, would give the Township part of the land for a park, with the developer acquiring another portion of the property for 103 townhouses.

The Langley School District says that the Ministry of Education, which has the final word on all new schools, must see an “ironclad” case to approve a school at the 70 Avenue site. Pretorius maintains that the petition demonstrates that “ironclad” case.

However, that may be unlikely, given the ministry’s approval of the land swap in 2010. Instead of Routley, it has approved a school site, which is part of the land exchange agreement, at 20626 84 Ave. in the Yorkson neighbourhood of Willoughby.

Many residents say they bought in Routley fully expecting an elementary school to be built at 198 Street and 70 Avenue, which is five blocks from Langley Meadows Elementary.

The school district says that Routley, which is 90 per cent built, does not have the population of school children to support building an elementary school.

“Residents of the Routley neighbourhood are furious being cheated out of their school,” he said.

“Many homeowners have children younger than five years, and are eager to sign the petition asking the Township to cancel the land exchange deal.”

He said that some residents, who have invested more than $500,000 for their Routley homes, are considering moving.