Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 has asked Castlegar City Council for a development variance in order to put a portable classroom at the north end of the Twin Rivers Elementary School.
Without portables, Twin Rivers Elementary, which also includes the Castlegar Primary campus, has a capacity of 386 students. Enrolment at the two campuses last September was 510.
The district is asking the city to reduce the interior side lot setback requirement from six metres to 1.5 m in order to place the 90 sq. m portable next to an existing portable so that utilities are in close proximity and the school’s play field can remain intact.
Several neighbouring residents expressed concerns over the proposal, primarily due to the closeness that the building would be to their properties.
In order to address those concerns, the district has offered to install a 2.4-metre-tall solid barrier screen separating the school property from the alley to aid in privacy and remove the opening in the school’s fence that leads from the school property to the alley.
SD20 also said that the portable will not have many windows, and that none of the windows will be facing the neighbouring properties.
If the variance is not approved, the SD20 has indicated that it will likely have to add a portable classroom at Robson Community School to address the enrolment pressures.
This is not ideal as students in Castlegar’s north end would have to attend school outside of their community, potentially presenting challenges for parents and students.
Council approved the proposal at the committee level, but final approval is not scheduled until July 17. In the meanwhile, council has asked for some clarifications and ways to address resident’s concerns.