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Parry Sound government planning next steps after French school granted green light by judge

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PARRY SOUND, ON- A French school in Parry Sound is going ahead, for now.

Yesterday, a judge in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice: Divisional Court allowed the French school board, Conseil scolaire public du Nord-Est de L’Ontario (CSPNE), an injunction that lets the school set up inside the Canadore College campus in West Parry Sound on September 3rd.

Judge C.A. MacDonald gave the ruling in the late afternoon, after the board requested a judicial review of a decision by the Town of Parry Sound to deny the move. The request was made in conjunction with a parent.

The town council had decided against the approval of the school’s college location at the meeting on August 13th, voting without opposition. Both council and mayor Jamie McGarvey had indicated that they were not opposed to a French school being in town, but they didn’t approve of the location at Canadore.

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Reached by the newsroom on Thursday, Parry Sound CAO Clayton Harris stated that the town is reviewing the judge’s decision in order to understand their rationale for the move.

Harris indicated that staff will not be receiving direction from council until the item comes up for discussion at a council meeting, the earliest being next Tuesday.

Harris also said the town’s legal counsel had requested an adjournment in the court case after being served last Thursday in order to “properly prepare” which was denied.

A news release from the French school division says they welcome the decision made by the court.

“For the past two years, CSPNE has been working with the Francophone and Francophile community of Parry Sound to develop the project of a French-language Public School,” read the CSPNE release.

“Following extensive efforts to identify a location for the school, the CSPNE has reached an agreement with Canadore College to use available space on the Parry Sound campus as of the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.”

CSPNE said the agreement is meant to be temporary, until a permanent space was found, which was faced with an obstacle by the town denial.

“Faced with the impending start to the school year, parents, school trustees and the school board had to turn to the courts,” read the announcement.

“The Court held that parents and their children enrolled in the new school would suffer irreparable harm if it were to delay or cancel the planned start to school, including losing the right to an education in the minority language, protected by section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Whether the City’s refusal was contrary to section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will eventually be dealt with by the courts.”

The board says they are pleased to welcome students to the school, “for the moment”.

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