The ‘walk to school’ factor: families want to live close to education
New schools announced for Legacy, Evanston draw extra attention from homebuyers.
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In early March, the Alberta government announced $250 million in funding for new school projects throughout the province. That includes two new schools for Calgary; a public middle school for Evanston in the northwest and a Catholic K-9 school for Legacy in the southeast.
The new Legacy school is welcome news for parents including Hanh and Kevin Chan, who are excited at the possibility of having their two boys walk home for lunch every day.
“It’s hard to come by nowadays, having a school that kids can actually walk to,” Kevin says.
The Chans recently moved into a new home built by WestCreek Homes in The Woods, a small pocket of Legacy also being developed by WestCreek. The school is slated for a vacant site at the intersection of Legacy View S.E. and Legacy Circle S.E., which is across the field from the Chan’s home.
The Calgary Catholic School District has yet to announce a timeline for construction, but Hanh is confident the school will be ready before their eldest, 10-year-old son Kirin, finishes junior high. Their younger son, Cayman, 6, will likely attend.
“They are currently at St. Sebastian because we used to live in Walden. We’re lucky because some families in Legacy have to send their kids all the way to Canyon Meadows,” Hanh says.
“Or Sundance. That’s a 45-minute bus ride,” Kevin adds.
Between this future K-9 school and All Saints High School, which opened in 2018, the Chan’s worries about their boys attending multiple schools are over.
“They won’t have to leave the community,” Hanh says.
Legacy was launched in 2013 and is about halfway through its development, according to WestCreek marketing manager Kalida Manarin.
“There are more condos, duplexes, laned, front drive and estate homes being released this year. In addition, we will be starting on a new park and pond in the community, and we continue to see more commercial developments pop up,” she says.
Located next to a 300-acre developer-protected environmental reserve, with 15 kilometres of winding pathways, Legacy is a community that attracts young families. The population of K-9 aged students, which are children ages five to 14, is projected to double by 2026, so a school was the CCSD’s top priority.
“The thought of watching your children walk to school from kindergarten all the way to Grade 12 is truly a gift for parents,” Manarin says.
The grades 5 to 8 public school in Evanston will be the third school in the large northwest community, which was founded in 2007 by Qualico Communities. The existing schools are Kenneth D. Taylor (K-4) and Our Lady of Grace (K-9). The new middle school will be built on one of the two vacant school sites.
“As a developer, we dedicate the land for new schools, but the land sits vacant until the province announces the funding for the school to be built. This is a big step to have this much-needed school built in the community,” says Nina Wulder, communications and marketing co-ordinator at Qualico.
In planning school sites for new communities, the municipality and the school board determine how many school sites are required and the location. Once the province funds the construction of a new school, the board then takes ownership of the site from the municipality. The role of the land developer is to donate the land for the site to the municipality.
“Once the site has been decided and the land has been donated, the developer will landscape the site, do the boundary infrastructure, including the surrounding roads, sidewalks, water mains and sewers, and provide the services,” says Wulder.
On March 29, the CBE Board of Trustees approved a three-year school capital plan and are taking their wish list to the provincial government. That list includes two schools for the northeast: a middle school in Saddle Ridge and a public high school in Cornerstone.
There are five school construction projects in progress: a K-4 school in Mahogany, a K-9 school in Skyview Ranch and a K-4 school and middle school in Auburn Bay, all set to open this fall. A high school is scheduled for the fall of 2024 in Coventry Hills.
The CCSD’s capital plan has prioritized its need for schools in the Calgary region and wants a K-9 school in Nolan Hill, a new K-9 in Chestermere and a K-6 school in Redstone. The board is also seeking funding to modernize Bishop McNally High School in the northeast, St. Bonaventure in the southeast and St. Benedict in the southwest.