Preserving Closed School Lands as Public Green Spaces

School yards provide valuable public green space and critical nodes for community greenways systems. School yards provide a place for unstructured physical activity, sports practice, scenic value, and outdoor community events. They also provide a variety of environmental functions, including habitat and water cycle functions. However, school lands do not have the same protection as parks. Although the land is public, school districts have the right to sell it. During the recent temporary dip in enrolments in BC schools, communities across the province have seen their schools closed and listed for sale. Over 170 schools have been closed since 2001, with several more currently threatened with closure. Often the lands have been sold for private development, depriving the community of traditional open spaces. This has a destabilizing effect on communities that rely on schools and school lands as their main public gathering place. ELC student Kristen Holten has recently completed a research project on how public school lands can be preserved for their green space values, in an era when many public schools are closing. Kristen did her research for LANDS (Let’s Agree Not to Dispose of Schools) and CAPE (Community Alliance for Public Education). Kristen’s report reviews measures that have been taken in California and by various local governments to protect school lands for public use. It identifies a number of legal measures that the Province and local governments could take in order to better protect vital green spaces around schools.

Resources:Link to the Report: Preserving Closed School Lands as Public Green Spaces