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The community's vision for a new school in the central peninsula can be seen in this architectural rendering. Image: Submitted/Envision Saint John

EXCLUSIVE: Province Eyes Rainbow Park Area For New School

By Brad Perry Dec 7, 2022 | 6:36 AM

It appears the new school planned for Saint John’s south-central peninsula may be built in the area of Rainbow Park.

A report obtained by our newsroom sheds new light on the potential location of the highly-anticipated K-8 school.

Saint John council held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon with “land assembly for a provincial project” being the only item on the agenda.

Council unanimously approved a motion to “enter into a revised financial contribution agreement to support the project.”

But no other details were provided during the two-minute meeting, including the name of the project or what land is involved.

After requesting more information from the city’s communications office, a spokesperson provided a copy of a report presented to council in Committee of the Whole earlier in the day.

Province looks to buy St. James Street properties

That report shows the province has to buy two properties at 98 and 102 St. James Street to “complete the land assembly for the new school in the South Central Peninsula.”

Both of those properties, located between Charlotte and Sydney streets, back onto Rainbow Park, according to property records.

The province is also paying $127,000 for three unidentified properties owned or controlled by the city as part of the land assembly.

During a previous meeting on Nov. 28, councillors approved a pair of “financial contribution agreements” with the owners of the two St. James Street properties amounting to $90,000.

The city would pay $40,000 to the owners of 98 St. James Street and $50,000 to the owners of 102 St. James Street, in addition to what the province pays them for the appraised value of their properties.

Negotiations stall with one landowner

However, negotiations between John Correia, special advisor to the premier, and the owners of 98 St. James Street “reached an impasse,” according to the report.

“The landowners have indicated to Mr. Correia that they do not feel that the total compensation being offered is sufficient,” said the report, written by city solicitor Jacqueline Boucher.

“The property owners do not feel it is sufficient to compensate them for the renovations they have completed on the property and the rental income they will lose upon the sale of their property to the Province.”

Correia told city staff that he is hopeful the landowners will accept the province’s offer if the city increases its financial contribution to $55,000, which council agreed to do on Tuesday.

“The urgency of this matter is because the Agreements of Purchase and Sale for the property, as received from the Province, must be signed by December 8th,” said the report.

Province mum on site selection process

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has yet to make any official announcements about site selection for the new school.

Alycia Bartlett, the director of communication for the department, told our newsroom Tuesday that there were no new updates at this time.

The province set aside $2.2 million in this fiscal year’s capital budget to acquire land for the new school, which will replace Prince Charles School on Union Street and St. John the Baptist/King Edward School on St. James Street.

More money has been earmarked for “design work” in the 2023-24 capital budget, the province announced Wednesday, but no other details have been released.


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