Planned new middle school for Lake Country slowly moving ahead
Lake County councilors got their first look at plans for a new middle school in Lake Country at a recent council meeting, giving its support to the location of a proposed middle school being planned by the Central Okanagan School District.
The school district has identified the need for a new middle school in Lake Country and after checking out various locations, has pin-pointed the grounds of the current George Elliot school for the proposed building and the site of the Aspen Grove Golf Course to be used for sports fields.
DLC councilors were asked to support a request to have the land currently in the Agriculture Land Reserve (the golf course) be used to support playing fields, a driveway and parking. The school is planned to be built beside George Elliot.
"I like the fact it's going to be close to the existing high school," said coun. Rob Geier, also a teacher at George Elliot. "It just makes so much sense for a middle school to be able to access the high school."
Councilors heard that plans for a new middle school in Lake Country are still not fully approved by the provincial government. The school district has approval to purchase the property from Aspen Grove Golf Course and has agreed with golf course ownership to buy the land. Approval to build the school has not yet been granted. The school district will provide the province with a project identification report before the end of this year before the project is ranked in importance on a provincial basis. It's expected the school won't be built for at least five years, according to the DLC.
With Lake Country's population growing and becoming younger, a new middle school for the area is a priority.
The DLC was one of the rare B.C. communities whose population is actually getting younger, as identified in the latest Canadian census.
"As a growing community we have some challenges in providing adequate schooling and locations for schools for our kids," said Lake Country director of planning and development Mark Koch. "This has been identified as an ideal location due to size and location."
The proposal for a new middle school and the sports fields located within the ALR sparked discussion amongst Lake Country councilors about the potential of the school and the ability to offer courses that are closely related to Lake Country's economy, such as agriculture. A possible agriculture component to the schooling is something the DLC hopes to see happen once the school is built.
"I think we need to remind them of the agriculture component," said Geier. "Personally I don't see agriculture dying in this area. I see a rebirth of agriculture. An agriculture component to the school would allow students to take part in that field and think of it as a possible career."
Councilors also discussed a possible culinary component to the school as well, utilizing a portion of the fields to grow food and tie it in with programs at the school as more and more people are looking to the farm-to-table movement as a way of the future.
After the discussion, councilors supported the motion to allow the land to be removed from the ALC and used to build sports fields for an eventual new school.