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School land exchange gets ministry approval

Planning for three new schools in New Westminster passed a significant milestone this week as Minister of Education George Abbott gave approval to the land exchanges at the former Saint Mary's Hospital and New Westminster Secondary School/Mercer Stad

Planning for three new schools in New Westminster passed a significant milestone this week as Minister of Education George Abbott gave approval to the land exchanges at the former Saint Mary's Hospital and New Westminster Secondary School/Mercer Stadium sites between the New Westminster board of education and City of New Westminster.

In a letter to school board chair Michael Ewen, Abbott noted that the completion of the land exchanges opens the way for capital project funding agreements to be signed for the elementary school replacement project at the Saint Mary's site and the new middle school project at the current John Robson site.

"We are very excited that this milestone has been achieved," said Ewen in a press release. "The land exchanges can now proceed which allows the new schools to move forward to the project approval stage. ... The development of the comprehensive land exchange agreement with city council is demonstrative of the city and school district's desire and ability to work together to advance the new schools program for New Westminster."

"There has been a great deal of effort by both parties in order to come to this important stage of the process," said Mayor Wayne Wright. "The minister's approval is a very positive step forward."

At the Nov. 7 council meeting, Wright also made a statement on the status of the project.

"On behalf of council, I am very pleased to report that the city and school district have completed negotiations and concluded a land exchange agreement," said Wright. "This is very good news that I know par-ents and students in our city will be happy to hear. This land exchange agreement was a significant accomplishment in moving towards a final project agreement that will see new schools built in our community."

alau@royalcityrecord.com

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