The Victoria-Swan Lake member of the B.C Legislature had the Osoyoos community’s back yesterday, a day after SD53 trustees voted to close its secondary school.

After Education Minister denied provincial responsibility for the school’s closing, saying local school boards make such decisions, NDP MLA Rob Fleming fired back, noting local trustees don’t have a lot of choices.

“The fact of the matter is that local decisions are only local if the school board has options, and this government has left this district with no option but to close schools, fire teachers and stick kids on buses to go to the next town,” he said.

Similkameen-Boundary MLA Linda Larson also downplayed the provincial government’s role in the decision.

“(A)s a local issue we must respect the independence of the school board to do what it believes is best for students and the district,” she said in a written statement.

“Ultimately the decision was made to give students the best education possible, and I have no hesitation in saying they will receive it at South Okanagan Secondary School, which is an outstanding institution with first-class teachers and administrators.”

Ms. Larson also said she believes Osoyoos will remain a great place to live despite the school’s closing.

“I am confident it will result in better educational outcomes for our students, and Osoyoos will remain one of the best places in Canada to live.”

What others had to say:

  • Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff: “After 35 years, losing K-12 is a definite blow. … We’ll also be quite proactive in dealing with the Minister of Education. … That being said, we will stay positive and look at ways we can deal with this. We won’t let this get us down.”
  • Osoyoos Town Councillor Mike Campol (to trustees): “The parents showed courage. The teachers showed courage. The students showed courage. What we haven’t seen here is courage (from) you.”
  • Trustee Rachel Allenbrand (Oliver): “I’m sitting here with my glass of wine now trying not to cry about it. It was a huge deal for the community.”
  • Education Minister Mike Bernier: “We have a great relationship with the school districts around the province and recognize that those decisions are best made at a local level, the ones who understand their communities.”
  • RDOS Area G Director Elef Christensen: “I can see the province wants to save money but they need to cut back in other places. When a school leaves, it’s like you’re a ghost town.”
  • The Penticton Herald‘s James Miller: “What was witnessed Wednesday night was a poor man’s version of The Hunger Games. Area schools were called to the Capitol and OSS lost the lottery.”


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  1. Linda Larson doesn’t get it. Neither does the present Liberal Government.

    Our MLA was elected to represent her constituents in the various communities that elected her. She has been an epic failure on so many issues that have faced our region. She’s shown time and again she’s way over her head.
    Our illustrious MLA who recently put out a statement regarding the closure, Stated in essence, that the trustees made the right decision for the children of SD53. Really! I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry when I read this.
    The devastating socio-economic impact this will cause “to the Town of Osoyoos” and area will become all too apparent in the coming weeks, months and years going forward. Not to mention the turmoil and disruptive nature this will have on the children and families of Osoyoos in the future.
    To the 4 trustees who voted for the closure. You trustees have absolutely no accountability whatsoever to the citizens of Osoyoos. NONE!! For these “4 non-citizens” of Osoyoos to have such power to devastate a community socio-economically let alone any other community in the future is beyond comphrension.
    This is an affront to the principals of our cherished democracy. You were told no by the citizens of Osoyoos and yet you didn’t listen to the very people who entrusted you with their votes in the last municipal elections. You were afraid to stand up for what was right. I suspect you were more afraid to lose your monthly stipends and the “wrath” of your so-called boss the Minister of education.
    “If government wants to shut down schools, let them sign the death certificates themselves and offer some accountability for the decisions being made in a vacuum that only they can remedy,”
    What you “4 TRUSTEES” and our soon to be unemployed MLA don’t seem to get is we are your bosses. You are elected by us! The proper thing for you folks to do is resign immediately before 3rd reading.
    To the 3 trustees who voted against the closure. Kudos!
    I strongly encourage and support our elected municipal council and all other groups to file any and all necessary legal injunctions to stop SD53 from 3rd reading of the OSS closure. You have the communities support without fail.
    In the meantime – All of us here in Osoyoos will definitely be looking at the names on the ballots very carefully when election time comes again. We will not forget any of you.