Director Paul Johansen’s response to Michael Ewen’s Letter to the editor

Dear Editor:

Re: It’s time to move forward, The Record, Letters to the editor, Sept. 13.

With interest, I read school trustee Michael Ewen’s letter on the land use study, but still, it does not explain why the district-commissioned Archie Miller report about the Douglas Road Cemetery was kept so secret.

According to a recent newspaper article, it was never acted on or shared with all trustees until this summer, years after it was issued by Mr. Miller. To commission, withhold and ignore consultant reports is not “best practice.”

In fact, as a glaring example of how this board neglects to follow proper channels of process, it completely contradicts Mr. Ewen’s claims about debate leading to consensus decisions at the board table.

This is further evidenced by the construction of school district parking lots.

In constructing the high school site parking lot, the board ignored the Archie Miller report that outlined the possibility that there were remains still buried on site and also ignored the requirement to secure permits for the construction of the parking lot.

Having knowledge of the lost graves, and bypassing city hall’s permit process, the upper parking lot at the high school was constructed anyway.

At McBride Elementary School, another parking lot was also improperly constructed; as a result, damage was caused to neighbouring residential property. Because the construction was done without permits, the city ordered that the parking lot be removed and that the site be restored to its previous state.

For lack of a permit and because of faulty construction, at great financial expense, the McBride school parking lot was done and then undone with no benefit to anyone.

Consequently, the parking difficulties at McBride remain, and the money that was spent was completely wasted.

In this district, the board does not have sufficient capital funds to address its many facility issues.

This makes it completely unacceptable for the district to continually repeat “rookie” mistakes.

Not only is it bad management to bypass process and ignore expertise, it’s arrogant. Ultimately, over and again, it is the students who are penalized by board incompetence.

That said, one outstanding question remains: will a fine be assessed and will a correction of the high school parking lot be ordered as well?

Paul Johansen, New Westminster

5 thoughts on “Director Paul Johansen’s response to Michael Ewen’s Letter to the editor

  1. You’re right on the money again Mr. Johansen, Ewen’s claims about debate leading to consensus decisions at the board table are laughable. To commission, withhold and ignore consultant reports, to bypass process and ignore expertise, is bad management, is arrogant, and the staff and students of the district pay the price.

    Another posting on this site by Michelle Ballarin gives another prime example of that man’s arrogance: “fully ignoring that it was a mistake to defeat the land-use study, Ewen publicly questioned the relevance of either the school district or the city doing a land-use study. He is also on record as challenging a letter by trustee Lisa Graham charging that she misrepresented the school board position on the land-use study. By a quick review of Graham’s letter, it is clear that she made no mention of a school board position on the matter. Even Mr. Ewen’s friend, trustee James Janzen, questioned the point of Ewen’s “exercise”, and an astute letter-writer questioned if Ewen was simply trying to “create mischief” by his attack on Graham.

    The spin that Ewen puts to every issue, the way he recreates history to suit his own purposes, the way he uses his position to employ his family in district jobs, is the height of arrogance, but the way the high school replacement process has been so badly mishandled is the limit. Knowing that graves were on that site, and by-passing the city’s permit process to build a parking lot over top of those graves is more than enough, it’s too much. Thirty years as a New Westminster school trustee is also too much. We need new, now!!!
    I am so grateful that I will have a decent choice at the ballots this election. Thank you for doing what you do. Keep it up Voice New Westminster.

  2. I would like to echo the sentiments of Grateful-for-Voice-New Westminster. We do need new, now! It’s time to put the “new” back into “New Westminster”. Keep up the good work Voice.

  3. The only way we are going to see “new” in New Westminster, like “new” schools, is if we vote the dinosaurs out. It’s -past time- that we put the “new” back into New Westminster. Now that Cook is running, I’m looking forward to positive change come November. He’ll get those schools built.

  4. Good on Voice, we need someone to watch over the current Board and you, through your members, are doing a wonderful job. With a strong mandate maybe you can clean up the mess Ewen & his CUPE cohorts have so nicely dropped in the laps of the very students they are supposed to serve!

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