Save Our Park

UPDATE: Sept. 10, 2014. SACA along with the Save Our Park Committee (SOPC) are still committed to working with all levels of government as well as the Francosud School Board to find a more suitable location for a new Regional K-6 Francophone Elementary School in NW Calgary. To understand why SACA and the SOPC firmly believe Scenic Acres Park is not the best location, please click read our detailed position paper HERE.

August 31, 2014.  On August 28th, four SACA members and our elected politicians MLA Sandra Jansen and Councillor Ward Sutherland met with a large group of government officials from the Province and the City based on a pre-planned agenda. There were 26 individuals crammed into the second floor conference room at the Crowchild Twin Arena (CTA)! The agenda was not set in our favour, the objectives were only to share understanding, provide further education on government capital planning dynamics and update us on the SA Park construction project. We had passionately attempted to change the focus of this agenda over the preceding month and in the end, agreed to attend for two reasons – we had 20 minutes to present our position based on researched facts and both elected officials were there to provide their outspoken support for our position. At the end of the meeting, we again stated Scenic Acres ‘asks’ and they are consistent with our initial position presented six months ago. These are to - 1. Preserve the Park, 2. Halt construction planning and review potential sites for a regional school based on concrete criteria – not just on a school opening deadline.  3. Select the most logical site for a regional school and even then, engage with that community before moving forward; something we never had.
Scenic Acres has researched and developed a Scenic Acres Position Paper that will be made available for distribution at a later date. At this point, it should be noted officials have not complied with legislation and policy on a number of fronts in the Park development decision. We have outlined those specific concerns in detail within the Position Paper and will be sending a letter to both levels of government at the beginning of the week.
I hope you noticed the size of the school development when we highlighted it with yellow tape recently! The development takes 20% of the Park when considering property lines but property lines include sloped lands and urban forest. The percentage is much higher when considering usable land and we are attempting to get that figure.
We completed weekly public sessions in July/August for the Community to review and give input to the Development Plan and have submitted our formal response to the City last Friday per the deadline. We now have a two week extension and will be providing additional comment based on new additional information we received this week.

August 26, 2014 The Scenic Acres Community Board representatives for the Save Our Park initiative will be meeting with senior staff from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Infrastructure and City Planning on Thursday August 28th between 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM. We plan to present a strong argument to preserve the Park, halt the planned construction and re-assess the location of the regional Franophone school along with strong support from MLA Sandra Jansen and Councillor Ward Sutherland who will be in attendance. These government officials still do not want to hear our message and want to move on with planning and construction. The Media will be there and we expect to be interviewed along with the other participants.
We need your support! Let’s fill the Park! Please congregate between 10 AM and 1 PM and play soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis; throw a football, a frisbee, ride your bike, jog, or whatever else comes to mind in terms of individual and team activities to show your support to preserve our Park.
Make signs stating you want to preserve our Park and halt development but be respectful in your messaging please – we do support the FrancoSud board getting their school in a more appropriate location. We will have Save Our Park volunteers at the Park to coordinate and direct activities if you just show up. If you have any questions please contact saveourpark@shaw.ca.

August 18, 2014 On July 21, CCSD Chair Mary Martin, uniting the school board position against resident consultation, sent a letter urging Jeff Johnson, Minister of Education not to meet with Scenic Acres representatives concerning the preservation of Scenic Acres Park, based on the need to plan and manage schools without impediment and that the FrancoSud Board has done their due diligence. The Scenic Acres Community Association has responded stating that frontend stakeholder engagement only makes plans more robust and outlined that the FrancoSud’s behaviour displays anything but due diligence. SACA also questioned the actual length of delay that would be associated with selecting another site.
The representatives from the SACA Board are preparing for a meeting on August 28th with Ministry of Education, City and AB Infrastructure personnel as well as Sandra Jansen and Ward Sutherland. The objective of the meeting is to present our position that Scenic Acres Park should be preserved and the Francophone school re-positioned on a site more conducive to its regional stakeholders. We will present arguments highlighting how there was insufficient frontend business planning and community engagement required to make an optimal decision. We will also incorporate any relevant legal aspects provided by Chris Davis Law who is currently assessing our position.
We have also been informed by our contacts with the government that the physically signed petitions carry much more weight than the online version. With that in mind, we would request that anyone that has not physically signed a petition sheet please do so either in person at the SACA office or by printing and signing the petition which can be downloaded here and returning it to the SACA office during office hour or through the mail slot. Please always remember that the more signatures we can get the better. Anyone 18 or over who lives in Calgary would be more than welcome to sign the petition.
Thank you for your continued support and please contact us if you have any questions, concerns or ideas at savourpark@shaw.ca

July 24, 2014 Below is a brief status update on Save Our Park activities and what you can do so support the cause.
SACA Board and SOPC Tactical Activities:
Legal – As part of our due diligence, we have met with a lawyer experienced in land matters who has extensive City Hall experience. He will provide an assessment whether we have opportunity to challenge the school development decision and our likelihood of success. If we were to chose to contest the development, legal costs would run in the tens of thousands of dollars and would have to be funded from our residents. At this point, we do not see this option as viable as we know the school development is a permissible use under the current mixed land zoning designation and the site and building plans will adhere to proper standards. This opinion has been confirmed by a few lawyers unofficially and by the few folks on our committee who have some land use legislative experience. However, we want to understand the full sequence of events related to this property and test some specific clauses in the land legislation so a proper assessment is prudent. We expect this assessment to be available in late July/early August.
Development Permit – The Development Permit application was received by SACA this week. We will review it in detail and also invite other residents to view and provide input before we make our formal submission back to the City. The submission is due back to the City on August 29th. Stay tuned for meeting dates for this review.
Media – We have approached all major media with our press release and provided our formal response to Joy Eyre-Bowen’s letter as accompanying material. We have also been writing editorials to the Calgary Herald and engaged in various discussion on Twitter. We have seen some great letters and responses from Scenic Acres concerned residents…..great job folks!
Political Engagement – We are working out the details on a meeting with the elected officials and key administrative staff during the first half of August. Sandra Jansen has committed to tabling our petition before the Legislature during the fall sitting. We are working through proper procedures to have this petition registered appropriately.
Community Engagement Required – Your Part!
Grow Petition – Please circulate and keep our petition growing in numbers. Preference is for Scenic Acres residents and users of the Park to register but all are welcome to sign. Please ensure all mandatory personal information is entered (name, address, phone number) and that individuals are over 18 years of age. Both paper and online options are available.
Help to Plan and Assist at Events – We will be active at Movie-In-the-Park August 23rd and are reviewing other opportunities to visibly engage residents. If you can help, please contact saveourpark@shaw.ca.
Write – Please continue to write your elected officials – Joy Bowen-Eyre, Chair and our CBE Trustee, Sandra Jansen, our MLA and Ward Sutherland our Councillor. Thank Sandra and Ward for their support and active assistance and express your disapproval to Joy’s stance against the Community. There are template letters available at Save-Our-Park website but they should only be used as a guide to writing in your own words. If you need help, please contact saveourpark@shaw.ca for guidance. Writing will not help to progress current tactical plans but will keep the Park preservation subject front and centre with our local elected officials and with your fellow residents. Those of you on Twitter, please engage in the conversations to preserve our Park. Please support our efforts in editorials to the newspapers as well.

UPDATE: July 21, 2014: Last week on July 16, CBE Trustee Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre sent a letter urging Jeff Johnson, Minister of Education not to meet with Scenic Acres representatives concerning the preservation of Scenic Acres Park, based on concerns public engagement would set a precedent for delaying school construction projects. The Scenic Acres Community Association has responded stating if public consultation had occurred proactively in the first place, Scenic Acres Park would not have been chosen as a site for a regional school and there would have been no delays in school construction at a more appropriate site. Click here view the latest statement from the Save Our Park Steering Committee.

July 13, 2014:
With Alberta Infrastructure project team continuing to move ahead with the Francophone school development in Scenic Acres Park, Sandra Jansen has written the following letter to Jeff Johnson, Minister of Education, noting the strong support from our community for preserving the Park and asking that work on the school be halted until a suitable site can be determined. She has highlighted the need for policy change as well so this situation does not occur in future with other school developments. Thanks to Sandra for her ongoing support, advocacy and for writing this letter specifically. Please click here to read the letter.
On the Municipal level, Ward Sutherland has engaged with SACA and SOP representatives on numerous occasions, provided us coaching and direction and connected us to the right people in City Planning to progress our efforts to save Scenic Acres Park as well. The Save-Our-Park Committee continues to pursue all possible avenues to preserve the Park while supporting the Francophone Board to find a more appropriate site.
The online petition is available at http://petition.hewlett-ward.com/online/sign .

UPDATE: July 3, 2014: 
Yesterday (July 2) members of the Save Our Park Committee (SOPC) met with representatives from FrancoSud, Alberta Infrastructure, their architects as well as City Planning and the Joint Use Coordinating Committee (JUCC). SOPC learned that school development plans for Scenic Acres Park have been advanced notwithstanding our request for a pause to allow for a review process to determine where the Francophone school should be best be located. A schematic for the school development was shared with SOPC and can be viewed HERE. Alberta Infrastructure offered that ground breaking would occur early in 2015 so that the school would be available for September 2016. There are concerns with the permitting and construction timelines that Alberta Infrastructure and the City are working on. City Planning/JUCC shared that a total of 9 sites (including Scenic Acres Park) were presented to FrancoSud, including two new locations which had not previously been available, supported by a superficial review of all sites. JUCC shared their parameters for evaluating the sites that were available as well as their finding that many of them are suitable for a regional school. They did not to indicate an ideal site and left that decision to FrancoSud. FrancoSud indicated they would not consider any other sites at this point due to potential delays and rework associated with changing the location and their perception that their project would face opposition in any established community. It became clear that their only concern is the occupancy of a new school by September 2016.
The objective of the meeting was to promote common understanding, transparency and understand of any delays that could result from selecting a site other than Scenic Acres. The result of the meeting was disappointing because it appears that considerable effort has gone into the development plans for construction on Scenic Acres Park; however, there has been less effort given to finding the right location for the Francophone school.
It is most critical for supporters of Scenic Acres Park to sign the petition and write letters to our elected officials. SOPC is still actively pursuing our goal to Save Scenic Acres Park. We are a small committee working almost full time on this initiative; we need to stay focused on tactics we believe will assist our cause. Ward Sutherland has provided us guidance, carried our message and continues to connect us with City staff. We are in touch with Sandra Jansen and her office in order to further connect with Alberta Infrastructure and Education.
We are considering a legal assessment and potential pursuit of legal action. This course of action may be costly; a serious funding challenge for SOPC and SACA. If you can connect us to expert legal opinion and/or significant funding options, please contact savourpark@shaw.ca.
We ask that you ensure that you and anyone else you know sign the petition which is available for download by clicking HERE. Our Committee will also be at the upcoming Stampede Breakfast at the Scenic Acres Community Association on Sunday morning from 9 am until the food runs out. We expect Sandra Jansen and Ward Sutherland to attend so take the opportunity to express your concerns directly to them.
Thank you for your passionate support and let’s keep pressing forward!

June 28, 2014:  Alberta Infrastructure has erected a large sign in Scenic Acres Park notifying residents that a school will be built on the property. This message would be in line with the letter notification received last week from the Southern Francophone Education Region. There also were surveyors in the Park taking core samples on Friday, June 27th, standard practice for environmental assessment.
The sign was erected without any notification to the community or our elected officials and pictures were provided to Sandra Jansen and Ward Sutherland yesterday. Though this sign may seem to signal the end of the matter, it by no means is not the end of the process! Only very preliminary planning would be in progress right now. For those of you who have lived in the community for some years, a similar sign was in place for many years previous, advising that a school would be built in the Park - a school that never materialized. There is actually a silver lining in this school advertisement in that many residents, who were still not aware of this potential development will now know and therefore the Save-Our-Park Committee’s message will be further extended. The petition to save the Park is at approximately 1400 signatures and continues to grow. We will be at the Scenic Acres Stampede Breakfast on July 6th and expect to add many more signatures. Politicians take notice of this significant and associated passionate feedback!
To reiterate, the Committee supports the Francophone School and its completion in 2016. However, this is a regional school with only 7 of 400 students attending from Scenic Acres. This is not a school for Scenic Acres residents as was originally intended when the community was planned. A regional school should be situated with better access to main roadways; not deep in a community. We would not support a regional location deep in any community! We also want to save our well-used park from any development whether
school or something else – our school requirements for Scenic Acres are more than sufficiently met. The Park is heavily used for organized and spontaneous activities and has provided recreation to the community for over 30 years.
If you haven’t done so, please sign the petition, circulate the petition, contact 3-1-1, write Sandra and Ward and voice your concerns with diplomacy but firmness. Let’s keep moving forward with our rationale and logical approach!

June 20, 2014: Southern Francophone Education Region No. 4 (FrancoSud) has advised SACA of their intention to move forward with building a new school at Scenic Acres Park. To read the FrancoSud letter please click here.
Cllr Sutherland also provided an update. He does not agree that construction at Scenic Acres Park is the best outcome for all stakeholders. To read Cllr Sutherland’s letter please click here.
We believe this has not been the transparent process concerned citizens have asked for. Along with Cllr Sutherland, we are disappointed with the outcome to date.
The Save Our Park Steering Committee (SOPSC) understands that the Joint Use Coordinating Committee (JUCC) has offered alternate locations to FrancoSud. We are committed to working with SACA, the community at large and all stakeholders to see that a reasonable and supportable decision is made on this important issue. We agree that the proposed development of Scenic Acres Park – a planned, established recreational area extensively used and enjoyed by the residents of northwest Calgary – is not the best outcome for all stakeholders. To that end, we will continue our efforts to engage and inform decision makers to see that the appropriate time and effort is given to properly assess the viable options that have been offered by the JUCC (with the assistance of the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School Division) so that a reasonable and supportable decision is made that will be best serve the public at large.
The petition to Save Scenic Acres Park has now been signed by over 1300 Calgary residents! Support for this initiative is growing and it is critically important that we continue to add names to our petition and we write our elected officials in support of an engaging, transparent process leading to a reasonable and supportable decision on this important issue .
If you are willing to help canvass for the petition, PLEASE email saveourpark@shaw.ca and help Save Scenic Acres Park.

June 10, 2014: Are you planning on writing a letter to encourage our elected officials to preserve our beloved Scenic Acres Park? If so please feel free to CLICK HERE to download, personalize and send the following letter expressing our community’s concerns to the addressed City of Calgary, Provincial and School officials. We want to continue highlighting SOPSC’s mandate to ensure the right decisions are made on this important issues. If you have additional questions please contact the committee directly at saveourpark@shaw.ca.

June 9, 2014: Clr. Ward Sutherland has provided an update that on June 6th the Francophone School Board met with the Joint Use Coordinating Committee to discuss several new alternative sites for the regional Francophone Elementary School. Anticipated next steps were also discussed. To read the full update please visit: www.calgary.ca/councillors/ward-1/Pages/News/Proposed-Francophone-School-in-Scenic-Acres.aspx

June 3, 2014: The Minister of Education Hon. Jeff Johnson wrote to Clr. Ward Sutherland, the Hon. Sandra Jansen and Ms. Anne Marie Boucher, Cahir of the Southern Francophone Education Region supporting the work under way to appropriately locate the new Francophone School. To read the full letter please click here.

June 2, 2014: Clr. Sutherland sent an update via an open letter to the residents of Scenic Acres. The letter informed the community that he had been in contact with the members of the Joint Use Coordinating Committee to see if any alternate sites could be made available to the Francophone School Board and that progress was being made in identifying alternate sites. To read this letter please click here.

May 26, 2014: Have you signed the petition? If you want to SAVE OUR PARK and have not yet had the opportunity to sign the petition you can download it, print, sign, ask your friends and neighbours to sign and then drop it off to SACA. You may either drop it off during our office hours (M, T, Th, F 9-3 & W 9-5) or by popping it in our mail slot next to the facility’s Main Entrance. Click here to download the petition. If you are experiencing problems printing the petition please e-mail saveourpark@shaw.ca or drop by in person to the SACA Office during the office hours notes above.

May 24, 2014: Councillor Sutherland released a letter to the residents of Scenic Acres noting he had repeated his request to the CBE and CSSD to review alternate school sites which could accommodate the a new Francophone School in NW Calgary. He also noted Joy Bowen-Eyre Ward 1 & 2 Trustee for the CBE was working with him to identify alternate sites and affirmed his commitment to the residents of Scenic Acres to work within the current legislation to try and find an alternate location. Click here to view the letter.

May 23, 2014: SACA received a thank you letter from the Francophone School Board – Conseil Scolaire FrancoSud indicating their willingness to consider an alternative site for their school providing this could be done in a timely manner. Click here to view the letter.

May 22, 2014: Thank you to everyone who attended the meeting at Crowchild Twin arenas. It was amazing to see the response from the community and we need to continue to push our government officials to get the right people together and do the right thing for Scenic Acres. We need residents help in the next few weeks with a door to door petitioning and information campaign. However, in the meantime please help us make some noise with the City of Calgary. We ask that you call 311 and visit 311online.calgary.ca to voice your concerns and opinions on development in Scenic Acres Park. Keyword: Save Scenic Acres Park.
We will be looking for volunteers in the upcoming days to continue our push to Save Scenic Acres Park, if you can help please e-mail savourpark@shaw.ca

May 14, 2014: Thank you to everyone who joined us at our Open House and for all the letters and e-mails you have sent to our elected officials. Please join us on Wednesday May 21st at 7pm upstairs at the Crowchild Twin Arena for an Information Meeting being hosted by MLA Sandra Jansen, where representatives from Alberta Education, Alberta Infrastructure, The City of Calgary as well as the Francophone School Board will be present to provide information on this proposed new school construction. Click here to view the invite to this meeting from the Hon. Sandra Jansen.

May 12, 2014: Representatives from the SACA Board met at SACA with representatives from the Francophone School Board – Conseil Scolaire FrancoSud. This was a very pleasant meeting where the Conseil provided a history as to how they were given the site at 220 Scenic Acres Drive NW, and why they are in desperate need for a new school in NW Calgary. The SACA Board appreciated the need for a school, but conveyed to the Conseil the belief this site is the wrong location for a regional school, and committed to support the Conseil to in finding a more appropriate location in NW Calgary. For additional information on the background please click here to read the speaking points brought forward by the Conseil at the meeting.

April 22, 2014: The Save Our Park Steering Committee (SOPSC) will be hosting Open Houses the weekend of April 26/27 to give residents the option to share their thoughts verbally and to ask questions. **Join them between 10:30am and 2:30pm on Saturday April 26th or between 1:00pm and 3:00pm on Sunday April 27th in the SACA Main Hall **

April 19, 2014: We want to hear from YOU! A group of concerned residents with the support of SACA have formed a steering committee to Save Our Park. If you share their concerns or you are excited to see a new school built in Scenic Acres Park, share your thoughts by e-mailing saveourpark@shaw.ca.

April 14, 2014:  Cllr. Sutherland e-mails letter to Scenic Acres residents who had shared their concerns with him over the potential loss of the beautiful green space in Scenic Acres Park, if the Francophone School Board is allowed to proceed with building a new school in the park. To read the Open Letter please click here.

April 2, 2014: Hon. Sandra Jansen has committed to hosting a community consultation in the form of an Open House to be held in May. Date/Time/Location is to be confirmed, but Sandra has confirmed representatives of the Francophone School district as well as the Provincial Government, including herself will be present at the meeting.

April 1, 2014: Want to discuss concerns relating to the Francophone School with the Hon. Sandra Jansen MLA? She has invited all constituents for a Coffee and Chat this Friday afternoon from 1 to 3pm at her constituency office located at #7223, 8650 112 Avenue N.W. Calgary, Alberta T3R 0R5 (www.mapquest.ca/embed?hk=1jZh5XL).

MAR 31, 2014: SACA held their AGM where the topic of the Francophone School was brought up by a number of concerned members of the community. From the discussion held at the meeting it was decided to form a Steering Committee to advocate for our community and to plan for a community wide Open House to be held in the near future. Anyone wishing to commit to being involved with this committee, for what could be a 2 to 4 year commitment, is asked to contact the SACA Office at scenicacresca@shaw.ca.

MAR 24, 2014: SACA President Dean Erickson was able to make contact with Monsieur Claude Rivest , Communications Manager with the Conseil scolaire FrancoSud. Dean advised him of our desire to meet with them regarding the proposed Francophone school to learn more about the process and to discuss concerns brought to SACA by concern community members. We are now waiting to hear back from Mr. Rivest regarding a suitable meeting date.

MAR 11, 2014: Hon. Sandra Jansen, MLA for Calgary-North West, sent a letter to Cllr. Ward Sutherland, Joy Bowen-Eyre of the CBE and Claude Rivest of the Conseil scolaire FrancoSud encouraging consultation to reiterate the process and ensure constituent concerns are addressed. Please click here to view a copy of this letter.

FEB 12, 2014: On Monday February 10th, 2014 Premier Redford announced a number of new schools for Calgary. One of the schools announced was a Francophone School to be built in Scenic Acres. For more information on this government announcement please visit: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/calgary/Government+announces+plans+build+schools+Calgary/9490265/story.html At the same time the Conseil Scolaire Franco Sud released more specific information about the proposed location and capacity of the school. To read this release please click here: http://www.conseildusud.ab.ca/pdf/2013-2014/Communiques/140210_Release_new_school_NW.pdf

The Scenic Acres Community Association had been aware this land was designated for a future school, but had received assurances from Alderman Hodges there were no plans to build a school, and this land would remain a green space. SACA has reached out to Councilor Sutherland and are awaiting additional information related to this proposed school. Updates will be provided to the community through the Scenic Review as well as this web page.

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