Forest Hills School

The Anglophone South School District was requesting $25,000 to help replace the gymnasium floor at Forest Hills School in Saint John. (Twitter)

Saint John councillors nixed a request from the Anglophone South school district for $25,000 to help replace the gymnasium floor at Forest Hills School.

Forest Hills School is used as a community centre and the city paid to have the school’s gymnasium built 32 years ago. The gym is also used extensively for YMCA programs funded by the city.

The floor now needs to be replaced at a cost of $75,000 so the school and the district were hoping the city would kick in one-third of the cost.

Saint John’s recreation staff had recommended that council support the financial request from the district.

But the demand ran into political opposition on Monday night.

Shelley Rinehart

Deputy Mayor Shelley Rinehart questioned why Saint John would pay for a gym floor at a provincially-owned school. (City of Saint John)

Saint John Deputy Mayor Shelley Rinehart questioned why the city was being asked to help pay for repairs to a building that is entirely owned by the provincial government.

"I'm not sure it falls in our purview in terms of investment in facilities. So I'm a little confused and I have to admit a little concerned because there are many schools with gymnasiums," she said.

Coun. Shirley McAlary also said the request could set a precedent for other community groups.

"If we do this one then you can be rest assured other people are going to be looking for money too because everybody's looking for money," she said.

Kevin Watson, the city’s recreation manager, said there are other schools that could put forward a similar case as Forest Hills.

There are two other schools in the city that double as a community centre.

The gymnasium floor at M. Gerald Teed School, which is another community centre, will also need replacing soon.

There were councillors who were pushing to see the city help the schools.

Coun, Ray Strowbridge argued the city should assist with the repair costs for these facilities because of the broader social benefit.

"Yes, they're underneath a provincially owned roof but they're a community centre that supports the kids and the families of this city," he said.