Haultain and Dieppe school closures: Walkability

Haultain School in Eastview neighbourhood (pictured) along with Dieppe School in West Regina are up for closure.

Dieppe and Haultain schools still need public support to fight their closures next year.  There are two school board meetings, November 22nd and December 13th, school supporters can attend.  The final decision on both school’s fates will be made January 10 (Leader Post). 

In this post I want to focus on the walking distances students may face if their neighbourhood school is closed.  Not every student walks to school, but we think it is important that children are able to walk to school.  Nearby schools might allow for the following: greater access to extracurriculars, for the grounds to become a destination play-space/hangout outside of school hours and increased independence for children as they age.   

Haultain school serves Eastview, a small neighbourhood that is isolated from adjacent communities.  Removing the school will make it difficult for students to walk to school.  The area around Eastview is a mix of light industrial and commercial services, where large vehicles and busy streets define the neighbourhood boundaries. 

Three schools have been suggested as alternatives: Glen Elm, Imperial and McDermid.  Sadly, one of Imperial or McDermid will be up for closure in the near future as well.  This leaves parents to guess, if Haultain closes, which school to switch to, with a wrong choice requiring their children to move yet again.

In order to understand the effect a school closure may have on walking distances I used Google Earth’s path measure tool to check distances between Haultain and Dieppe with other schools.

Haultain is in the middle of the neighbourhood and the average path distance from the neighbourhood corners to the school is 0.78 kilometers (km). Contrast that with the path distances of McDermid 2.36 km, Glen Elm 2.53 km, Thompson 2.52 km and Imperial 2.65 km.

Dieppe has an average path distance from the corners of the neighbourhood to the school of 0.71km.  Dieppe  is closer to neighbouring schools than Haultain with path distances for Walker 1.37 km, McClurg 1.74 km and Rosemont 2.21 km.  Walker is the closest option, although the future of that school has been in question recently.  The paths Dieppe residents would rely on also often are going through parks and open spaces and are not along proper road right of ways.  I don’t know if these paths deteriorate during the winter and would cause further delays.   

Growing up in Hillsdale, my walk to elementary school was only 0.45 km or 3-5 minutes depending on how old I was.  During high school, my 10-15 minute walk translated into 1.45 km in path distance. 

Reflecting on my school years, even the nearest option for both schools, Walker, would have been considered outside my neighbourhood.  I know some classmates who would have walked further than 1.37 km but not that many.  It’s tough to think of anyone walking 1.80 km or 2.00 km to my elementary school. 

Closing these schools will force most children to take the bus or get driven to school.

Haultain and Dieppe school closures: Walkability

15 thoughts on “Haultain and Dieppe school closures: Walkability

  1. People should show up at the Jan. 10 meeting so the school trustees have to look citizens in the eye when they make their decision. If you want to say something to the board at this meeting or earlier meetings, you need to request permission in advance to make a presentation, which you can do by calling the board office. There is also apparently a constitutional clause that suggests any ratepayer can be recognized to speak from the gallery, simply by raising his/her hand and requesting, although I’ve never seen it happen.

    It would be great to see a show of city-wide support, rather than the usual cluster of parents directly attached to the school, whose words are always discounted because ‘of course they would be against the closure.’ You can also write to the board at review@rbe.sk.ca.

    Facts of interest: in the last census, Dieppe was Regina’s fastest-growing neighbourhood. Eastview has the second-highest proportion of children under five, and 37 per cent of households are lone parent households. This to me suggests a lot of single moms with multiple kids, for whom participation in a distant school would be very difficult. Also, if a kid gets sick at school, and you have no car, and the bus service to Glen Elm is terrible, and you’ve got younger kids at home, what do you do? One parent who had a kid in the Glen Elm kindergarten last year said the school bus ride from Eastview took one hour! But now Haultain has a kindergarten with 17 kids, and a 20 per cent increase in school enrolment. Will that be enough to save the school? Judging by past practice, it seems doubtful.

    1. Martin Gourlie says:

      Thanks for the post Patricia. The statistics you’ve provided about Eastview’s proportion of children under five and percentage of lone parent households are really amazing.
      In my elementary school experience, extracurricular activities; working the canteen at a basketball game, Student council, playing sports and after school events like dances were some of the best times I had.
      It seems that closing Haultain could make it difficult to access extracurriculars, for Eastview children especially, in the future.

  2. Jeannie Mah says:

    One mother told how her child in kindergarten had to be on a bus for ONE HOUR to go to Glen Elm (normally a 10 minute car ride) when the kindergarten enrollments fell below 10 (or 12). This seems to be especially cruel, and really hard on young children. This year, there is a kindergarten class at Haultain.

    This is an amazing community, very tightly knit and caring. The small town vibe, where children feel safe to play outside, where parents watch out for other kids, where generation after generation return to raise their families, is a very unique part of Regina. One family moved there from Harbour Landing, because here, in Eastview, there is a great community, and a school!

    1. Martin Gourlie says:

      Thanks Jeannie. I love hearing more about Eastview, a place I don’t know much about, and how close the community is. That’s a good point about Harbour Landing too. I wonder if that development, without a school right now, suffers from lack of community?

  3. Brandi says:

    I grew up in Eastview and the thought of the school closing breaks my heart. It’s been 11 years since I was a student at Haultain but that school and that neighbourhood made me who I am today and I like to think that I turned out pretty well. I’d say the same for most of my friends, too.

    Is it really surprising that the enrolment would drop with the constant threat of closure looming?

    Right now there are a lot of young families in the area. I’m quite certain these people would rather send their kids to school two blocks away than ship them off on a bus (which also makes extra-curriculars hard, especially if you have two working parents).

    My best friends today are the friends I’ve had since elementary school, the ones I grew up with. In such a small school I couldn’t afford to be picky about my friends, but I didn’t have to be. Eastview is a really unique place. What makes the place so special is the community, the people. The school is the centrepiece for that. It’s something that you can’t really describe, you just need to feel it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with where I live right now. It’s a nice, safe, neighbourhood, the people are friendly. I just don’t feel as connected to this place as I do to the place I grew up. Part of that is the fact that Eastview is where I became me, but that’s not the only thing. My dad who grew up in a small town says that his hometown and Eastview are the only places he’s ever felt at home. I think that growing up in such a wonderful community spoiled me. No place else can really compare to that. What Jeannie Mah says is absolutely the truth. I always felt safe because I knew that someone was looking out for me. Kids I grew up with are buying and building houses in the area and choosing to raise their children there because they want them to grow up in a place where people look out for one another. This is a community that pulls together when someone is in need, they look out for their own.

  4. lara says:

    Sadly, there is no school board policy stating that there must be a school within walking distance in a residential area. We used to build schools centrally to allow children to walk right up until the 70’s, but as urban sprawl changes the dimensions of our residential areas, we moved away from that model some time ago. Inner city schools naturally become less populated as their local populations gentrify and young families move to more advantaged neighborhoods. If Haultain School closes, all children will be bused, while Dieppe’s students will still have some reasonably close options. Depending on the number of stops a bus has to make on it’s route, the time it takes to travel to and from school will naturally be much longer, making a much longer day for children to attend school. Again, we have no policy that there should be a minimum time limit for bus travel. There is however, a policy for the enrollment limit of a functional school, and there is a policy of the average cost of education per child. If you are a Board, you function on policy and not sentiment, well, mostly policy. I don’t want either school to close and it will be tough on the kids in both neighborhoods, but I see less chance that they will stay open after the Board meeting in January based on current arguments.

    1. Martin Gourlie says:

      Thanks for your reply Lara. I recognize the importance of fairness in the public system regarding average cost per-child of education and other considerations School Board members must make. I don’t imagine trustees take any of these decisions lightly.
      I grew up in the context of a aging neighbourhood where two schools McNiven and Else Dorsey closed and my own school, McVeety, was slated for closure just before I started elementary (parents successfully lobbied for it to stay open).
      I think you’re right, it is an up hill battle to keep these schools open. Which is unfortunate because, at least according to the city, both schools serve defined neighbourhoods. I fundimentally believe a neighbourhood requires a primary school or schools to function. Now, the school board would probably say they’re not in the business of creating functioning neighbourhoods just as they weren’t in the business of heritage architecture during the Scott Colligaite debate two years ago.
      I guess that’s where public opinion and activism must come in, to tell elected trustees that complete communities, with walkable schools matter.

  5. Re Brandi – “Is it really surprising that the enrolment would drop with the constant threat of closure looming?” Actually, enrolment rose by 20 per cent this year, with a new kindergarten of 17 kids, when before they didn’t have any.

    1. Brandi says:

      Yeah, I saw that. Over the past few years though, it’s been steadily declining. I guess that argument doesn’t really make sense though with the enrolment going up right now. Let’s pretend I didn’t say it?

  6. Jeannie Mah says:

    It seems even weirder, when, just as Eastview is building in-fill housing on lots which were once double width, and as the City is allowing tax breaks to those who build new houses, and, just as the neighbourhood is filling up with children again, that a decision would be made to CLOSE the school. It seems as if City Planning and School Board planning are not having the same discussion. 17 children in Kindergarten sounds like a boom!

    Eastview is VERY isolated, but it is a complete neighbourhood.

    We should not really expect children to traverse 8 blocks of light industrial lands, and then cross the Ring Road to get to school…. either on foot or on bike.

    The Library is in Glen Cairn, too. Eastview lost its branch library in 1956, when it was replaced by a Book Trailer. (The first Scott Street library, opened in 1920, was at Broder (when it was named Scott Street) and 6th, and moved to Wallace and 4th in 1927.

    We should all make presentations at the Dec 13 School Board meeting!

  7. Rdj says:

    The ” the transportation hub” on W. Dewdeney, should make the commuters want to keep Dieppe School alive. Drop yer kids off on the drive out there, pick ’em up on the way home.
    The s==t out here is the school land will become “condos”. Not Good. Rink, BB hoops BBall diamond, school gone.

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