Student conference threatened

A large, week-long conference scheduled for Kelowna in late September is being threatened by the ongoing labour dispute between teachers and the provincial government.

The Canadian Student Leadership Conference gathers 900 students and their councillors from all over Canada each year.

The conference is slated to run from Sept 23 to 27 at Kelowna Secondary School.

School District 23 board chair, Moira Baxter, says hundreds of teachers, parents and administrators have been working for three years planning for the event.

"If this labour dispute is still going on we won't be able to use Kelowna Secondary School because obviously there will be picket lines up. What are we going to do about that?" says Baxter.

Baxter says it's too early to know whether the event will have to be cancelled.

"We're looking at what would happen. We're looking to see whether there are other venues but so far we haven't found anything large enough to accommodate that number of students," says Baxter.

"With the number of break-out rooms that had been planned for, if there is a conference and we can't use our own schools it's going to be a very different sort of conference than has been planned for the last three years."

She says that's a big concern for the district.

On top of finding the right space is the last minute cost of finding a place to accommodate such a large group.

Baxter says the only cost they would incur if the conference goes ahead at the school is some additional custodial costs.

"If we do have to move it we will obviously have to pay rental charges."

While it's frustrating not knowing whether the conference can be held in its current form, Baxter says there's still time for all sides to come up with an agreement.

"Right now we're just focusing on saying get the schools open Sept 2. If we go for a few more weeks I guess we'll have to consider what we're going to do about the conference."



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