Last night at the Vancouver School Board, I voted against closing a neighbourhood school. Sadly, my vote was not on the prevailing side, and as a result of a decision made by 6 other trustees, Queen Elizabeth Annex (QEA) will close.
This school is the heart of its community. It is attended by children who live and play and learn in an engaging school environment with teachers and staff who are deeply committed to their growth and wellbeing. These families walk, roll, bus, and drive to their neighbourhood school and they built a community here.
There are so many reasons I voted against this school closure.
- The data and enrolment forecasts used to support this decision are incomplete and exclude City-led and First Nations-led developments that point to growth, not closure.
- Our commitment and responsibility to consult with the rights and title holders, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, as part of our land and asset strategy is not fulfilled.
- Consultation through the recent long range facilities plan showed little support for closure and little support for sale.
- Recent consultation with communities on this closure were insufficient – to say the least.
This decision wasn't necessary, nor was it prudent.
I am deeply disappointed by the final vote at the Board. However, as I've said directly to the families in the QEA community, I am inspired and buoyed by their advocacy. Though we didn't win this vote, we saw a level of engagement and energy from community members that reminds me that true democracy brings all voices to the table, that decisions must be guided by transparent and accurate data, that engaged participation must include those most affected by the decisions, and that we need meaningful, collaborative, transparent long-term planning at the Vancouver School Board.
Thank you to the QEA parents and the countless others who have said "NO!" to closures and land sales and for their unwavering dedication to their neighbourhood school.
I will keep doing what I can as the lone OneCity trustee. But we need your help to add more strong and committed trustees to the school board table in October. Please consider becoming a member or monthly donor to help this work.