Board and city look at a Hamilton Pan Am land swap

The city of Hamilton is looking at swapping land with the public school board in the Pan Am precinct, which means the new high school might not be separate from its parking lot after all.

City council gave the go-ahead Wednesday for staff to negotiate a potential land swap

This overview shows the area of the Pan Am precinct where the school board and city may swap land. (Google Maps / Kevin Gamble/CBC)

The city of Hamilton is looking at swapping land with the public school board in the Pan Am precinct, which means the new high school might not be separate from its parking lot after all.

City council gave the go-ahead Wednesday for staff to negotiate a potential land swap with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The board plans to build a $31.8-million north-end high school on the land that currently houses Parkview and King George schools, with a parking lot a short distance away on the former Scott Park Secondary site.

That may change with the new negotiations, which will look at shuffling around what goes where in the area of land near the new Tim Horton’s Field stadium.

“The community as a whole will benefit from both the city and the board looking at that whole piece of land as a blank canvass and figuring out where’s the best place for things to be,” said Jessica Brennan, chair of the school board.

“What currently belongs to the board might be best served by the city using that and or what currently belongs to the city might be best used by the board.”

The board needs to know in the next four months or so whether the location will change, Brennan said. Its Ministry of Education funding agreement dictates the school open in 2016.

At issue is an area of land that includes Scott Park, the city-owned Jimmy Thompson Pool and another city-owned parcel where it plans to build the Bernie Morelli Seniors Centre. The city will also host soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games at the new stadium and needs more parking for that.

The city and board pondered a partnership last year that would see the seniors centre and high school on the same parcel of land, possibly with some joint facilities. City council turned that down.

But this is different, councillors said on Wednesday, when they voted on the motion introduced by Coun. Bob Morrow.

“Maybe it makes sense to move parcels around a little bit to achieve what we both want to achive,” Coun. Brian McHattie said.

The board expropriated the Scott Park Secondary land earlier this year, but it will be a few months before it learns how much it will pay for it.

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