Students protest plan to pave field for parking lot at Victoria elementary school
Parents and students at a Victoria school are up in arms over a plan they say will pave paradise – and put up a parking lot.
With more than 60 staff and only 26 parking spots, Margaret Jenkins Elementary School is badly in need of more parking, according to the Greater Victoria School District.
As a result, they're about to pave a grassy field at the school to create 10 new parking stalls beside two new portables.
"We've also added additional classroom space and we are accommodating child care on the property as well, so there's a lot of pressure around where to put vehicles," SD61 Supt. Piet Langstraat.
Parents say the loss of the field will not only deprive the kids of a play space, it will lead to more traffic around the school.
"This is going to increase traffic congestion, and it's going to be a safety hazard for children walking to school," said Carolyn Wick.
They also say they were shocked to learn about the paving plan just days before it was slated to happen.
"We were not consulted, the community wasn't consulted, and there was no communication. The first parents were told about this was a few days ago," said Wick.
Young students who go to the school were out protesting the paving work prior to classes Thursday, chanting "Keep our field!" and posting signs with messages like "Green space, not parking space."
"I think it's awful because…you have parking spots all along here, so why do they need to make another parking lot and destroy the green field," said Grade 5 student Lyric Diebolt-Ross. "We play soccer, we play tag, we play hide-and-seek, all kinds of games we play on that field. It's just like losing something that we grew up with."
Countering parents' concerns that they weren't consulted, the district says there has been ample notice of the project including notes sent to neighbours.
District officials planned to meet with parents Thursday night to listen to their concerns, but said for now at least, the plan will still go ahead.
"We have engaged with the contractor, and there's a sizeable financial penalty should we withdraw from that," said Langstraat.
Paving work at the school is slated to begin next week.