Construction of a private school on 10 acres in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was rejected by Richmond council’s planning committee but will still be debated at council.
The proposal was to develop the former Mylora Golf Course for a private school, and revert part of the property back to farming.
Pythagoras Academy, currently located on Odlin Crescent, was planning a new school for 1,000 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12.
Coun. Carol Day, who sits on the planning committee, said that, while the school is considered a non-profit, she questioned what community benefit would come from the “elite private school.”
“They’re operating a business in my mind,” Day said.
The area is zoned agricultural/institutional, which has allowed for religious institutes to be built along No. 5 Road, sometimes with school attached. But a private school doesn’t fit the criteria, Day said.
“Obviously, we need to clean up our language in our OCP,” Day said.
Council will decide whether to accept the recommendation of the planning committee to not forward it to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for a decision. It is on the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.
A previous application to divide the property into five lots for institutional use was denied by the ALC in 2017.
Day thought that application was a good one that would have netted the city 20 acres of farmland at the back end of the property.
The back end of the property in the current proposal would stay in the hands of property owner, and Day said she’s worried it would be used later to expand the school, although the application states it would be leased to an organic farmer.
The plans for the Pythagoras Academy include a 400-seat theatre, a commercial kitchen, an artificial turf as well as other sports fields. The cost is estimated at $106 million.
The property at 9500 No. 5 Rd. was sold for $22.5 million in February 2018. It is currently owned by Komodo Holdings Inc.
Pythagoras Academy charges tuition fees between $17,700 and $28,000.
Couns. Day, Bill McNulty and Harold Steves voted against the proposal.