New Brunswick

Moncton delays vote on turning old high school into cultural centre

The debate over a proposal to turn the old Moncton High School into a cultural centre has been delayed once more.

Coun. Brian Hicks says politicians must accept blame if province sells old Moncton High School to U-Haul

An artist's drawing showing what the former Moncton High building may look like if a proposal by MH Renaissance Inc. is accepted. City Council delayed a vote on whether to accept the plan on Tuesday. (CBC)

The debate over a proposal to turn the old Moncton High School into a cultural centre has been delayed once more.

At Tuesday's council meeting, it was expected counciilors would vote on whether to approve a plan by MH Renaissance Inc.

The proposal is seeking to move the Moncton Public Library into the old school as its anchor tenant, even though that idea remains controversial.

Last week, at a private meeting, council voted to support the proposal by the company.

But on Tuesday it voted to amend that motion until it gets more information from the proponent.

"We'd be hard pressed, I think, to find anyone who would not like to see Moncton High School repurposed," said Coun. Blair Lawrence.

But he asked to see a viable business plan first.

Lawrence noted the provincial government is selling the former school, and noted it wants the city's input on who will get the building.

He said he doesn't believe there has been a proper tendering process put in place for the purchase of the school.

Some information not accurate

Lawrence also said information distributed through regular and social media is not always accurate, yet has driven the debate.

"The city staff, and the province, needs to take control of this issue," said Lawrence.

Coun. Brian Hicks said he was disappointed of another delay in voting on the project, saying the development of the old Moncton High School building has been held up long enough. (CBC)
"But we need to work proactively so that we, I think, don't bend to outside pressures, but rather evaluate each proposal, open the issue up to the public and listen based on complete information."

At this point, Lawrence said he doesn't have all the information he needs to make a decision on the MH Renaissance plan.

"There are for me, and I think for some of my residents, too many unanswered questions at this point, and contentious issues that need to be properly and transparently fleshed out," he said.

Lawrence said due diligence and a long term vision is needed before council moves forward. and that may take some time, regardless that municipal elections are scheduled for May 9.

Hicks disappointed at further delay

There was a spirited back and forth on the amendment to go back to the developer, with some councillors arguing the issue has dragged on long enough.

Coun. Brian Hicks said council needs to make a decision on the MH Renaissance proposal soon and expressed his disappointment at a further delay.

"If Moncton city council does not move quickly on this file and the province decides to cut it's losses and sell the building to U-Haul, since that is the only proposal that has been approved by government, then in my opinion, a good part of the blame rests on city council," he said.

U-Haul has said it would like the put a self-storage facility in the building, while potentially leaving some space for community uses.

Council will meet with MH Renaissance Inc. on Wednesday to discuss its plan, and the finances for it, in detail.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?