Feature

Schools for sale: What happens after the last bell rings?

Six Ottawa-Carleton District School Board schools are closing their doors for good this year. Here's what happens to those properties once they're declared surplus.

Range of public agencies get 1st crack before former Ottawa schools go up for sale

New schools, old schools

We plotted school openings and closures from 1998 to 2017 in both Ottawa's English public and Catholic boards, and the French public board. (The French Catholic board did not make its information available.) Click on the box on the top left corner of the map for more information. Click here to view the map in a separate window.


Thousands of students in Ottawa are saying goodbye to their schools for the last time after a recent spate of closures within the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Six Ottawa schools will shut their doors for good at the end of June, and the board will soon start the process of deciding what to do with the vacant buildings and the property they occupy.

Mike Carson, chief financial officer for the OCDSB, said the board may decide to keep some of the empty schools in case they're needed in the future. The remaining buildings will be declared surplus and put up for sale.  

Nobody wants those buildings sitting dark and unused.-Mike Carson,  OCDSB

The schools closing in 2017 are: 

  • Rideau High School.
  • D. Aubrey Moodie Intermediate School.
  • Greenbank Middle School.  
  • Leslie Park Public School. 
  • Grant Alternative School. 
  • Century Public School.       

Who can buy a vacant school?

The OCDSB decided to close Rideau High School, sending returning students to Gloucester HS. (Steve Fischer)
New provincial regulations introduced in 2016 mean a wider variety of agencies can now bid on vacant schools.

Here's how it works: 

  1. A vacant school is declared surplus by the school board.
  2. More than 80 public agencies including other school boards, universities, colleges, the province, the municipality, children's mental health agencies, public health boards, First Nations and Métis organizations, muncipalities, the province and the federal government can make a bid for the property.
  3. Interested parties have 90 days to express interest in the property, and another 90 days to submit an offer. (Under the old rules, a purchase offer had to be made within the first 90 days.) 
  4. The board negotiates the sale of the school, at fair market value, to one of those agencies.

If there are no takers among those public agencies, Carson said it will take a minimum of six months before the board can even begin offering a school for private sale.  

That could also mean added costs for the board, since it needs to keep surplus properties in good condition. The annual upkeep for a small, vacant elementary school, for example, could cost the board between $20,000 and $25,000, Carson said.

"Nobody wants those buildings sitting dark and unused," he said.

The last Ottawa school to be sold to a private developer was Laurentian High School on Baseline Road. It was purchased by Smart Centres, which demolished the building to build a shopping plaza.