A petition is launched for the construction of a secondary school in Val-des-Monts

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A petition has been launched for the construction of a secondary school in Val-des-Monts

This is a project eagerly awaited by thousands of families in Val-des-Monts: the construction of a first secondary school on the territory of the municipality. A petition has just been launched on the website of the National Assembly, and it is already gathering a lot of support. Details with Rosalie Sinclair.

A petition for the construction of a secondary school in Val-des-Monts has been online on the National Assembly website since Monday.

The petition assesses that the need for a new secondary school concerns approximately 700 students from Val-des-Monts and that currently the distance traveled by bus corresponds to a journey of two to three hours per day depending on the sector of residence and the school attended.

< p class="e-p">Resident of the sector and representative of the action committee for a secondary school in Val-des-Monts who initiated the petition, Amélie Villeneuve explains why she decided to get involved in this cause.

Amélie Villeneuve, representative of the action committee for a secondary school in Val-des-Monts.

It all started when I saw my neighbor walking to catch the bus at 6:30 a.m. in the middle of winter. It was dark, it was cold. I thought, “It doesn't make sense to leave so early in the morning.” I saw her arriving so late. These young people are away for a good 10 hours a day, they have an adult schedule, they are sedentary on the bus and they have no time for homework, sports activities…

“The students of Val-des-Monts suffer from the inequalities created by the situation, which translates into a graduation rate representing one of the worst in the Outaouais, which is constant and stable unlike the graduation rate in the increase for all of Quebec. »

— Excerpt from the text of the petition tabled in the National Assembly

The situation negatively influences the students of Val-des-Monts with regard to the sense of belonging, the quality of sleep, the time devoted to family and sports activities, as well as access to extracurricular activities. , can we read in the text of the petition.

Arguments that echo the Center de services scolaire des Draveurs (CSSD). Its director general, Manon Dufour, says that the CSSD has already made a request to this effect to the government last September. In addition, four potential plots have since been identified.

It is clear that having a school in our area with students with whom we have activities in the evenings and on weekends is desirable. And as we have seen, the graduation and qualification rates for students in Val-des-Monts are a particular issue, explains Ms. Dufour.

Manon Dufour, Director General of the Center de services scolaire des Draveurs.

The other argument allocated to the petition is the population growth, which Val-des-Monts has been experiencing for several years . Its population grew by 15.1% between 2016 and 2021, according to Statistics Canada. As a result, according to the CSSD, Gatineau's secondary schools have reached saturation point.

We have a lot of students who are bused to our schools and have to cross Highway 50 in the morning. It's not necessarily obvious. There is a lot of traffic. It takes us a high school north of the highway [50] , adds Ms. Dufour.

The need for schools in Val-des-Monts has been underlined for several years. (Archives)

In this period of possible snowstorms, Ms. Villeneuve also denounces what she perceives as an injustice.

In terms of bad weather during the winter period, buses are sometimes canceled for Val -des-Monts, but they remain available for Gatineau. So that means our students can't go to school while school is open.

Last April, the management of the Center de services scolaire des Draveurs (CSSD) consulted the population on this issue. It showed that Val-des-Monts could have a new high school within five to six years.

The CSSD tells Radio-Canada that it has filed a request in this regard. meaning with the Ministry of Education at the end of last August. The Department of Education has confirmed receipt of this.

The analysis of all the projects submitted is in progress. Those who will be selected for funding will be announced in the spring of 2023, says an email sent to Radio-Canada.

For the time being, no site has been determined for a potential future school.

We have identified land in the southern sector, near the village core, but we have no new information to share at this time, specifies the mayor of Val-des-Monts, Jules Dagenais.

The petition will be online until March 19. At the time of publishing this text, 117 signatories had supported the initiative.

The reason we put the petition online just before the holiday season is that we believe this is a great time for people to talk about it in the time of the holidays. Parties with their family, their friends, let it be on everyone's lips, slips Ms. Villeneuve who hopes to obtain between 3,000 and 5,000 signatures.

The official launch of the petition took place on Monday, December 19, 2022, at the town hall of Val-des -Monts, in the presence of a representative from the office of Gatineau MNA Robert Bussière (on the left), Mayor Jules Dagenais, Amélie Villeneuve and the prefect of the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais Marc Carrière (on the right ).

The official launch of the petition took place Monday morning, at Val-des-Monts City Hall, in the presence of Mayor Jules Dagenais and the Prefect of the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais Marc Carrière, accompanied by a representative from the office of Robert Bussière, the MP for Gatineau. According to the action committee for a secondary school in Val-des-Monts, everyone actively supports the project.

At the municipal council, we can tell you that, since our arrival, a little over a year ago, we all agree that we need a secondary school in Val -Des-Monts. […] We are in constant contact with the school service centre. We have an excellent collaboration. We were very happy that a request was submitted to the Ministry of Education, explains Mayor Dagenais.

“We want to make sure that our file does not go unnoticed, that it does not remain in the pile of refusals. This is why it is absolutely necessary to continue the citizen mobilizations until the decisions for the budgets are taken. »

— Amélie Villeneuve, resident of Val-des-Monts and representative of the action committee for a secondary school in Val-des-Monts

This support is from all the more important that the file includes certain administrative flaws, recognizes Ms. Villeneuve.

We know that we do not meet the administrative criteria to obtain this school, so it has to go through the political aspect. We have to exert political pressure to obtain this school, she explains.

The presence on the territory of the CSSD of secondary schools that still have room to accommodate students could harm the project.

But the signatories insist on the fact that these schools are located far from Val-des-Monts and that the Municipality is experiencing strong demographic growth, in particular a sustained increase and number of young families over the past 20 years.

The representative of the action committee for a secondary school in Val-des-Monts is however optimistic and underlines the progress made in recent years, although COVID19 has slowed them down a bit.

With information from Rosalie Sinclair

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