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Letter: Alcuin College in North Vancouver clarifies fourth-floor development plans

Head of school shares information on proposed enclosed recreation space
Alcuin college web
Alcuin College's proposal for an additional floor on their Lower Lonsdale school will go to a public hearing on March 1.

Dear Editor:

The article Taller North Van Private School Project Triggers Developer Dispute (Feb. 2) has generated many responses, and regrettably, some appear to reflect misconceptions about our school and the amendment application. As the founding principal of Alcuin College, I would like to share some information, in hopes of providing clarity.

Inspired by Sir Ken Robinson, we established Alcuin in 2012 in Central Lonsdale. Our mission has been to offer a personalized education, adapting students’ studies to how each best learns, thinks and inquires. As a small, independent, not-for-profit K-12 school, connectedness is an important part of our culture, and we treasure our community. Our families are active in sports, Guides, Scouts, and arts and service organizations, embracing the opportunities available on the North Shore.
In 2017, we received approval to build at 63 Mahon Ave. Unfortunately, rising construction costs proved prohibitive, so the project was paused. Now, with parents’ support, combined with a friendlier construction environment and funding from Vancity, we can proceed.
What is this amendment we seek? Wishing to improve our original design to better meet the needs of the school while also providing benefit to the community, we are proposing a fourth storey that allows for an enclosed recreation space. We have been able to create a covered outdoor space that would also be available for public use. Experience with COVID this past year has emphasized the need for safe, open areas.

We have introduced additional privacy measures, including live green exteriors, the use of sound dampening materials, and containing the outdoor exposed area in a way that it is less intrusive for our neighbours. Community connections are at our core, and as such, we would offer the space for activities that respect our school values, enrich the community, and provide a positive and inclusive environment. 

As we will be close neighbours with the Squamish Nation, we have been in contact with their leadership since our initial application in 2016. It is extremely important to us that we continue to be good neighbours and contributors, and we have offered free use of the space to the Nation in perpetuity. We hope that this provides a platform for us to create new opportunities for learning and collaboration within our community.
Alcuin College is excited to be joining the vibrant neighbourhood of Lower Lonsdale. We are looking forward to working with our neighbours for the good of the community.

Stella Ablett
Head of School, Alcuin College
North Vancouver

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