City councillors will decide Thursday whether to spend up to $17 million on a joint high school/community centre in Hamilton's Pan Am precinct.

Councillors will vote at a special general issues committee to confirm in writing their commitment to the project with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The project will include a new lower city high school, multi-lane pool and space for a seniors and youth centre.

The proposal includes replacing the Brian Timmis field with new outdoor recreation space. The development is expected to include a two-tank, multi-lane pool and therapeutic area, a dance/fitness room and community rooms.

The city would share the triple gymnasium with the school, which could be at Scott Park. The school board has already begun work to expropriate the land.

The city could get $1.2 million from an existing fund, says a report for Thursday's special general issues committee meeting. That leaves $15.8 million unfunded.

Staff are recommending taking $3.4 million from development charges, half a million from a Ward 3 capital reserve and a little over $3 million from other funds. That leaves city staff to find another $7.55 million from various sources, including the city's capital levy.

The new 1,250-student high school will replace Sir John A. Macdonald, Delta and Parkview high schools, which are scheduled to close in 2015. The board voted to close the schools last May.

Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2 in Hamilton's lower city said he's interested in seeing the funding plan in detail.

"No question, it's a lot of money," he said. "I don't think anyone could argue that. But if there's an area of the inner city where we can show there's a great need for something extra special, this would be it."

The board said in late April that expropriation will likely take three to nine months.

The board has legislative authority to expropriate, which is the act of taking land without the consent of the owner. This is the second time it has used it in Hamilton.

The special city hall meeting will be at 10 a.m.