Barring resistance from the city, the local public school board plans to build a new high school on the Parkview and King George property, and expropriate nearby Scott Park for the parking lot.
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustees voted Monday to demolish the two former schools and build a $31.8-million high school there. It will spend an unknown amount to expropriate the Scott Park land. It will also spend $4 million to build the parking lot and demolish the old school, which it sold nine years ago for $650,000.
The vote was 7-4. Some trustees said that spending millions on a parking lot was poor use of taxpayers’ money. Those in favour said it was a central location where the majority of the school’s future students live.
Who voted for the new school site:
Shirley Glauser, Lillian Orban, Jessica Brennan, Tim Simmons, Judith Bishop, Alex Johnstone, Todd White
Who voted against:
Karen Turkstra, Wes Hicks, Ray Mulholland, Laura Peddle
“We have to stick with this vision,” said Judith Bishop, a lower-city trustee. “There are elements of (the plan) where everything else being equal, we would have preferred not to be where we are at the moment. But we’ll still be able to provide a new school.”
The school will replace Sir John A. Macdonald, Delta and Parkview, which will close next year. Parkview students, who have special needs, will have the option of going to Mountain Secondary, which is another school for students with special needs, or Delta. Sir John A. and Delta will close in 2016.
The board initially approached the city to partner on a joint education and recreation complex at Scott Park. The city declined.
The King George and Parkview site is large enough for a 1,250-student school, some green space and a full-size soccer field. Parking will be nearly 200 metres down the street at Scott Park. For sports, the school’s home games will be at Sir Winston Churchill school about three kilometres away.
Some trustees, such as Ray Mulholland, spoke against the plan.
“It’s important to be expedient, but it’s more important to do it right, but I don’t think we’re doing it right,” said Mulholland, who represents the east lower city.
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There are still question marks in the process. In addition to the expropriation, the city must grant a rezoning for both properties.
Rezonings are routine and the board isn't concerned, said Daniel Del Bianco, the board's senior facilities officer.
"We’ve been working with the city this entire time to determine what is required," he said. "Right now, there’s no indication there will be any challenges with that rezoning."
The city is also investigating King George school for its heritage value and could designate it as a heritage property, which would make it harder to demolish. The board has hired a heritage consultant to do a report, said chair Tim Simmons, and "we expect to get that soon."