Density increase a concern for Lord Nelson elementary

Grandview-Woodland parents worry a seismically renewed Lord Nelson elementary wont have enough room for future students if the city adds housing density to the area.

The [Grandview-Woodland Community] plan document proposes row housing along Nanaimo Street and six-storey apartment buildings surrounding the Lord Nelson field, said Eileen Mosca, a longtime resident of the area.

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But Jim Meschino, director of planning and facilities for the Vancouver School Board, says board staff meet with the city routinely each year to discuss shared concerns. He said school board and city staff met nearly three weeks ago to discuss what increased housing density along the Cambie Corridor could mean. It wouldnt be in the citys interest not to include us because were like fire stations, he said. Oftentimes, we work together and nothing comes of it. Olympic Village, there wasnt as many housing units as we anticipated.

A school site for the former Olympic Village has been set aside and remains in the boards capital plan.

For the Cambie Corridor, Meschino said the school board will likely look at an addition to Sir Wilfred Laurier near Cambie Street on West 65th Avenue to accommodate children from a redevelopment of the Pearson Dogwood Lands.

As for Grandview-Woodland, Meschino doesnt expect the city has provided school board planners with projected housing numbers related to that areas community plan because its early in the process.

The capacity at Lord Nelson is 535 students and a seismically safer school is being planned to hold 510. In the larger context, we do have space in that quadrant of the city, Meschino said. Macdonald [elementary], for instance, only has 70 kids and its probably a 300 to 400 capacity school. Garibaldi has 60 kids. Its got at least a capacity of a couple hundred.

He said Nelson will be built with larger core areas such as offices to allow for additions.

The city is also considering changing zoning to increase housing density in Marpole. Meschino said representatives of the Vancouver Hebrew Academy that occupies Shannon Park Annex at 1545 West 62nd Ave. know their school might have to move to open 120 spaces to public school students.

Meschino said neither the school board nor the city want to see a repeat of what happened with Elsie Roy elementary in Yaletown, which was too small to meet demand from day one.

crossi@vancourier.com

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