Monday, January 11, 2016


(MONDAY AM) The saga of building a replacement school for Virginia Park Elementary continues this morning. The delay in construction may be the least of our worries.

An environmental report provided to the government back in April of 2015 expressing ongoing concerns about the continued presence of heavy metals and other toxic chemicals was leaked on Uncle Gnarley's blog

The extent of the contamination along the north and northeast boundary of the site is still undefined. 

The school community was assured by government that this site would be safe for our children. One would think that this would not be up for discussion.

The Eastern District School Board is arranging a meeting for the school council for this afternoon to discuss the situation. I have been told that the tender for the final phase of the school has been postponed. It was supposed to close tomorrow. The new, as of yet not publicly released, date for the tender closure is March 31st.

Virginia Waters - Pleasantville MHA, Bernard Davis was in contact with me just a short while ago to discuss the situation. He had requested a meeting with Services - Works and Environment to discuss ongoing concerns with the tender process. Davis is now working on a full briefing with the Ministers of those departments for community stakeholders.

The bottom line is that the "leaked" release of this report by Pinchin LeBlanc shows that the provincial government has not been transparent with the Eastern District School Board or the Virgina Park School Council about the environmental issues at the site and surrounding area.

Government officials assured me that the document was going to be released today as part of the tender extension process. 

At this point, I really do not know what can be done to restore confidence about the site or in those charged with project management for the construction of this school.

I agree with Des Sullivan, "More than adequate time has elapsed for the public to have been informed, and for additional studies to have been conducted."  It is time for candor. It is very hard to have faith in the process.

To date $9 million dollars has been spend just to get the steel frame erected on the site.

In the meantime, students continue to attend a school that the government's own consultants said in 2006 failed to meet the standards of a third world country.

I'll keep you posted but this project is beginning to look more like a white elephant, a modern day Love Canal.

Residents of the area surrounding the school might well be asking questions about what lurks in the ground below their properties. It might be time that the Department of Environment and the City of St. John's embark on a full environmental assessment to delineate the extent of contamination in the Middleton Street - East White Hills area!

In the meantime, all I can do is attend the meetings and learn more about how this project has been managed and where we go from here.

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