Councillors reject public school board's bid for Kanata school

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board says its fight with the city to build a new school in Kanata North is not over.

The board purchased the land on Innovation Drive, but it requires re-zoning, since it's in an industrial or business park area.

On Tuesday, City Hall's planning committee ruled that land along Innovation Drive is not a suitable area for a school. That's in part because of two nearby companies, like Nordion on March Road, which produces medical isotopes that include radioactive materials.

Nordion argued against the OCDSB's proposal, partly because it wants to expand and because business could be affected.

"In the nuclear industry, we have seen public perception directly impact business operations despite excellent safety standards and years of operation," said Tamra Benjamin, Nordion's vice president of public and government relations.

But school board president Jennifer McKenzie argued back in October city staff endorsed their request to build a school there.

"There are hundreds of families in Kanata who are waiting for this school to open," said McKenzie. "The community supports this application and the families are in desperate need of a new school to ease overcrowding in classrooms and the overuse of portables, which are occupying play yard space."

A city of Ottawa employee said the department had a "sober second thought."

Councillors, including Steve Desroches are siding with city staff on the issue.

"The basis of your argument is really just one of desperation, because when I look at this, I don't see good planning," said Desroches to the OCDSB.

The school needs to be completed in September of 2015 in order to receive provincial funding. Currently the ward councillor is looking for an alternate site.

The OCDSB is expected to take its case to the Ontario Municipal Board.

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