The Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine (DSFM) may be a step closer to attaining their own building in Thompson
The DSFM currently has 24 schools in the province, many of which originated within the buildings of other schools before moving on to their own school. Thompson is the last location where DSFM is without a building of their own, as they will be using space allotted to them in Burntwood School though the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
Maurice Chaput, director of the Lorette-based DSFM, spoke at an Aug 13 regular meeting of council about the board’s need for a building, and their proposal to purchase the existing empty old Staples building at 69 Thompson Dr. and lease the adjacent city-owned green space for recreational purposes.
The location is the former home of Staples Business Depot, and is an 18,000-sq.-ft. facility, where the DSFM could house their nearly 80 students with classrooms, as well as have a gymnasium and utilize the green space for a playground area.
“We really need our own building because our contract with the School District of Mystery Lake is up in June 2014,” said Chaput, “it takes about six or seven years to build a school so this is the only option we have.”
Chaput says that for now the former Staples building is a bit large for the number of students they have, but he can foresee them having more by 2014.
“Right now we are only kindergarten to Grade 8, but we’ll be growing to eventually go all the way up from K to 9 and 10 and so on,” said Chaput.
Council gave first reading to Zoning Bylaw No. 1120-83, that “C2” Central Commercial Zone Section 3.8.2 be amended to include Public Schools as a “Conditional Uses” facility.
The conditions have yet to be ironed out, but as brought forward, DSFM would be using the building as a temporary solution, for up to five years.
Council passed first reading of the bylaw and Chaput says that it’s a good step in the right direction, though he does imagine that speed bumps will be encountered along the way.
“This was only a first reading, and the purpose was just to get it out there to the public and see what kind of response we get,” said Chaput.
The DSFM could be met with some friction, as according to city manager Gary Ceppetelli, there are others interested in leasing or buying the adjacent city-owned green space along the east side of the building.
“Without that green space we wouldn’t be interested,” said Chaput, that’s one of the main reasons that we want the building is for that space.”
Many issues still need ironing out, such as safety in student loading zones, as well as the fact that city officials have already approved new land packets which could open up other opportunities for DSFM to have a school elsewhere.
Deputy Mayor Dennis Fenske questioned Chaput whether or not the DSFM had investigated space within the UCN buildings old and new, to which Chaput replied they had but found that it was just too much space and not conducive to their needs.