Robert Thirsk High School opens September 2013, which has many members of the community worried

TrafficTHUMBIn September of 2013, Robert Thirsk High School is planned to officially open in the northwest end of the city, just off of Nosehill and Hawkwood Drive.

The school is being built on 8777 Nose Hill Drive N.W., beside the Nosehill Public Library and the Crowfoot YMCA.

The plan is for the school to cater to students from several new communities including: Hawkwood, Arbour Lake, Citadel, Scenic Acres, Ranchlands, Rocky Ridge and Royal Oak.

 The designs and plans for the school have been well-received by members of surrounding communities, but its location is creating concerns among residents.

Concerns from the surrounding community were brought to the Calgary Board of Education’s attention at an open house back in 2009. It resulted in feedback on an anonymous page posted on the school’s website.

Residents’ conerns:

While the anonymous feedback to the school’s designs and its goals have been positive, there have been many complaints regarding the school’s location and the potential traffic problems that may occur in the area.

“Only one entrance is not enough, we already have traffic problem in this area. Need two entrances at least,” said one concerned resident in the online forum.TrafficIMAGETraffic concerns in the area of Robert Thirsk High School are already on the rise. Many are concerned with increased traffic flow when the school opens in 2013.

Photo by Jeff Medhurst

Others have cited that there will be an overflow of traffic in Arbour Lake and Hawkwood, as students looking for free parking are likely to double park in the neighborhoods, causing trouble for the residents.

Kevan Newman, president of the Hawkwood community association said, “Naturally there’s some concern the parking lot is too small. We’re considering issuing permits to the residents in the area.”

Response from the Calgary Board of Educatiion:

In response to concerns about parking, Melissa Malcolm, communications advisor from the Calgary Board of Education, said in an email,
“In terms of student parking, those decisions have not yet been made. With the school not opening until next fall, those particulars will be dealt with in the coming months in collaboration with the YMCA.”

Robert Thirsk High School is part of the Alberta schools alternative procurement initiative, which uses a public-private partnership to build the schools and maintain them for 30 years.

In other words, the school’s construction is done by private companies and then ownership is given to the city’s respective school board.

However, this has not changed the attitude that some community members have towards the school.

Many complaints are being cited towards the likely traffic problems and the possible decrease in resale value in some homes.

For some, this also means the loss of the park outside their house.

“We bought in Arbour Lake estates because of the park behind us. Now we will have to deal with the garbage and traffic and noise and bodies all day long. There must be something more you can do for us,” said one concerned resident in the anonymous forum.

Malcolm said that any traffic issues will be dealt with when the time comes.
“The CBE will work with the City of Calgary, the community including the library and YMCA to ensure we address traffic issues to the best of our ability,” Malcolm said.

Though Newman of the Hawkwood community association thinks the real test will be the school’s second year of operation.

“That first year it will just be grade 10 and 11, and not many people that age drive. It’ll be the subsequent year that will be a pain, and we’ll have to decide how to really react from there,” Newman said.

At time of publishing, the CBE said that student parking will be decided close to the school’s opening date, and inquiries into the total number of parking spots for the school had not been answered. 

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