City slows new north school progress with heritage listing
There will be a 60-day wait before the board can demolish King George school.
The city has voted again to slow down the construction of the public school board’s new north high school by adding King George school to its list of heritage buildings.
In a last-minute vote Wednesday, the general issues committee decided to add the 100-year-old school to its buildings of interest. That means there will be a 60-day wait before the board can demolish the school.
It’s the latest bump in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s plan to erect a new 1,250-student school in the Pan Am precinct.
"It's surprising that it should happen today," said Tim Simmons, chairperson for the HWDSB. "We didn't expect this."
The board initially wanted to partner with the city on a joint high school/recreation centre at Scott Park. But the city voted earlier this month to turn down the offer, which would have cost the city $17 million. It was turned down amid discussions of lack of trust.
The board voted Sept. 16 for its plan B, which was to build the $32-million high school on the Parkview and King George properties. The board is under a tight timeline. It has to open the school in September 2016 to live up to its provincial funding obligations.
But Simmons said they were already prepared for this to happen – they've already started plan B by starting to look at what parts of the historical building could be retained and how it can be incorporated into the new school.
"We haven't hired an architect so we don't what what's possible and what's not possible," he said. "We just have to stay within the $31.2 million budget."
A 'marvel of old school construction' Mayor Bratina says
Councillors said Wednesday that the building is important enough to add to the list.
“It’s a remarkable old building and it deserves consideration whether it eventually gets demolished or not, but I believe it shouldn’t,” Mayor Bob Bratina said.
“It’s one of the marvels of old school construction.”
But Coun. Sam Merulla worried that the vote looks like bad faith.
“I’m a little concerned about the optics associated with this,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s good for future relationship building with the school board.”
The new school will replace Sir John A. Macdonald, Delta and Parkview schools.
City council will ratify the decision on Sept. 25.