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Vancouver school board grapples with Games closures

A Vancouver School Board decision on whether to close schools during the 2010 Winter Olympics could be crucial for the Games' transportation plan.

Board chair Patti Bacchus told 24 hours four options will be considered at tonight's meeting: Leaving all schools open, closing secondary schools only; closing schools affected by Olympic traffic restrictions; or moving March break to Games time. West Vancouver and Sea-to-Sky school districts have announced Olympic closures.

"We heard some arguments that kids would get more out of the Olympics by being in school, using the Olympics in a whole variety of ranges from science to math," Bacchus said.

A July 7, 2008 memo from City of Vancouver transportation engineer Christopher Darwent to Olympic transportation director Dale Bracewell, obtained by 24 hours under Freedom of Information, said "if the K-12 March break were to occur during Games time, a reduction in background traffic similar to the expected increase from the Olympic overlay [five per cent] may be realized."

Approximately 600,000 school-related trips are made on weekdays "which results in more than 300,000 vehicle driver and passenger trips throughout the region and up to 67,000 vehicle driver and passenger trips to/from Vancouver."

Bob Mackin writes for 24 hours and appears regularly on the Hook.

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