Downtown Hamilton proposal was too little, too late: chair
The public school board liked the idea of keeping its education centre downtown, but it was too late to switch gears on its plan to move to its Crestwood site, the chair said in an interview with CBC Hamilton Wednesday morning.
Despite work done between the city and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board via a joint task force formed earlier this year, the board ran out of time, Tim Simmons said.
The Ministry of Education is tightening its belt and talking about amalgamating school boards, he said.
"The board was a little anxious under that kind of context to be delaying the decision."
Trustees met with city officials Monday evening to discuss moving the education centre to the former Cannon Knitting Mills site in Beasley. The board has to vacate its site at 100 Main St. W. by Aug. 1 to make room for the $85-million McMaster Downtown Health Centre.
Five hours later, it went behind closed doors again and voted 6-5 to proceed with its Crestwood location at 50 Millwood Pl.
The task force was supposed to report to the board on June 18. But trustees realized that was too late, Simmons said.
Simmons couldn't comment on the exact downtown location, but city councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie confirmed Tuesday that the knitting mills was the proposed location.
Simmons said the board realized Monday that it still didn't have enough information to present a downtown business case to the Ministry of Education. And waiting any longer meant it would miss its deadline to open a new education centre in two years.
If the board and the city had started working together earlier, the education centre might still be downtown, he said.
"If there had been a real will with council a few years ago, if Jason Farr had been on council a few years ago and come to us at that time, things might have been different," Simmons said.
Who voted to disband the task force:
Jessica Brennan, Alex Johnstone, Wes Hicks, Robert Barlow, Judith Bishop, Ray Mulholland
Who voted against disbanding the task force:
Karen Turkstra, Tim Simmons, Laura Peddle, Todd White, Lillian Orban