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Drop in enrolment in the CSSMB territory: School construction and expansion projects put on hold in Town of Mount Royal

On October 19, the Town received a letter from the Centre de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSSMB) advising us that the construction of a new French elementary school in our municipality has been put on hold.

What has Occurred:

The CSSMB in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, informed us that building new schools or expanding existing schools in certain areas, including the Town of Mount Royal, has been suspended. Eight out of 22 planned projects, 36% of projects, have been officially suspended. There are 5 sectors affected by this decision located mainly in the center of the territory covered by the CSSMB, our municipality being one of them. In addition to putting on hold the construction of a future elementary school in TMR, the Mount Royal High School expansion project is also being re-evaluated. 

A trend that is reflected in the CSSMB's central territories

The CSSMB explains this pause by a downward trend in enrolment observed as of September 30. The entire CSSMB territory had a decrease of 1,000 students in the present academic school year, compared to the pre-pandemic school year.

According to the CSSMB, for Town of Mount Royal projected enrolment as of September 30th dropped by 100 students, (a drop of 41%), and the most recent government projections indicate that there will be further declines in the coming years.

Their recent enrolment statistics in our local schools, already show a drop in the number of groups or classes: for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 there were 88, 84 and 81 groups respectively. This drop in groups or classes has been evidenced by the lack of usage of several mobile classrooms in our schools.

What changed:

Projections from the Ministry of Education as recent as 2019, on which the CSSMB had been working, had indicated an increase in occupancy rates for future years up to 2025 ranging from over 110% to 147%, hence the need to build a new facility.

With the recent trend and downward shift in enrolment the CSSMB and the Ministry of Education are revising all their projections.

Possible causes for this reduction:

From our discussions with the CSSMB, some of the factors that may have contributed to this reduction are:

  • The pandemic, creating a surge in housing prices;
  • The high cost of median housing prices in TMR of almost $2 Million, making housing unaffordable for young families;
  • A significant reduction in immigration to Quebec;
  • The effect of tele work;
  • More families seeking larger spaces in the suburbs;
  • Significant increases in the cost of living;
  • High interest and mortgage rates.

We hope to have some validation from the CSSMB and the Ministry on the above and therefore learn with more clarity about the change in demographics.

This decision by the CSSMB and the Ministry means that Council and the administration will put on hold the processes and discussions that have already been undertaken to find a site for a future elementary Francophone school.

We look forward to further information from the Ministry of Education and the CSSMB on both the elementary and high school projects in our community and will keep you informed of further developments. 

The Mayor,

Peter J. Malouf