School District 60 seeks to reapply for new school deposits to be waived

SD60 Secretary-Treasurer Doug Boyd speaking at Monday evenings school board meeting. Photo by Chris Newton

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Peace River North school board says that the denial by the city of Fort St. John to waive building permit fees and deposits for the construction of the new Margaret ‘Ma’ Murray Community School was due to a misunderstanding, and that it will be seeking to continue discussions.

At the Fort St. John city council meeting on July 25th, council rejected an application letter by School District 60 Secretary-Treasurer Doug Boyd to waive the $1,012,107 in building permit fees and deposits to build the new K-6 school. Of that total amount, just under $855,000 consisted of deposits for things like paving, landscaping, and waterworks which would be refunded to the school board upon completion of the school. Councillor Byron Stewart noted that the report included an alternative recommendation to waive the requirement to pay just the refundable deposits. Stewart asked if it was necessary to charge these deposits as it was deemed quite a certainty that the school will be built. Councillor Bolin expressed concern that waiving the refundable deposits would set precedents for future developments.

At last night’s school board meeting, Secretary-Treasurer Boyd explained that the board would reapply with the city on the basis that the decision to waive the fees would not be precedent-setting, as the school board is a government agency and not a private developer. Boyd explained that there could be some general misinformation about how school districts are funded, particularly when it comes to funding for new schools. School districts don’t actually receive the funds in a lump sum, but rather get “just in time” funding for projects.

Boyd is hopeful that the city will be open to renegotiating a deal that will be beneficial to both parties.