LETTER: What We Learned at Puntledge’s Town Hall

SAVE puntledge screen shot town hallWhat We Learned at Puntledge’s Town Hall
Letter from a Concerned Parent

Dear Trustees, drugs

This week, generic I have been attending the exciting community meetings on the revitalization of downtown Courtenay, while at the same time attending a meeting on the possible closure of a downtown jewel of a school, Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary, that is not only graced by a magical salmon stream and forest as a natural learning environment, but which acts as an anchor for the neighbourhood, the community around it, and the future revitalized Courtenay.

Comox Valley will grow. There is opportunity in this valley. Courtenay downtown will grow, particularly if the ideas on the table up the street at the Downtown Courtenay Revitalization meeting go forward.

Last night I learned there are families who moved from over-expensive Vancouver, from Toronto, and even from England to the Comox Valley and who specifically chose Puntledge and the neighbourhood because of all that it has to offer.  And more will follow.

I also learned at the Puntledge meeting that there is a proposal on the table to move young children from a seismically safe school (Puntledge) to one that is at risk of possible collapse in the event of an earthquake (Lake Trail).I learned that Lake Trail will have to undergo extensive renovations to make it suitable for the younger children, including renovated rooms and parking lot. With the cost of these changes and the seismic upgrading needed, it will surely be a more expensive move than retaining Puntledge where it is.

I learned that Puntledge is a high performing school with a growing number of students (not decline in enrolment).

I learned that the community has put forth viable options to closing Puntledge – more viable than what the board has proposed in their short-sighted and ill-informed proposal. I learned there are exciting opportunities with ideas proposed at the meeting to build a community school, even a campus that joins the two schools, Lake Trail and Puntledge (like Cumberland)…an absolutely brilliant and exciting idea for the future.

As a past parent of children in Puntledge, (one now graduating from Mark R Isfeld High School and one in Victoria), I implore the Trustees to do their job as mentioned at the meeting – to work for the community and keep public education alive.  It is time for those interested in revitalizing Courtenay to talk to the Trustees and vice versa.  Puntledge is an essential ingredient to revitalizing the downtown core. It is also time for Trustees to stand up to the Province, to join with other communities and Trustees across the Province and tell the provincial government enough is enough.  It is time for the Province to put money back into public education – our common future depends on it.

Finally, while we were guaranteed that there is no “backdoor” land deal being cooked up, if this turns out to be the case – somewhere down the road, I would hope the community calls for all of you to step down.

On March 15, please vote no to the closure of Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary.

Catherine Hill
parent of past Puntledge students and deeply concerned community member who deeply loves this Comox Valley family and wants to see Courtenay grow and thrive — right from its very core.