The high school discussion in South Georgian Bay continues and it is becoming clear that construction of a new Wasaga Beach secondary school depends on decisions to be made about the future of Collingwood Collegiate.
Simcoe County District School Board Trustee Robert North says the ageing Collingwood Collegiate Institute will soon need a rebuild.
At the March 28th SCDSB meeting in Midhurst, North addressed the ongoing issue of when the time will be right to build a new high school in Wasaga Beach. He noted that a large number of secondary aged students in Wasaga Beach attend Collingwood Collegiate, but added the situation in Collingwood will soon need attention as well.
“Collingwood at some point in the next few years, and we touched on this at committee, is due for a rebuild. It needs to be rebuilt to the right size in order to free up those students from Wasaga Beach to be basically repatriated to Wasaga Beach for a future high school. ”
He said there isn’t much that can be done until Collingwood Collegiate is re-built or right-sized.
“And that day is coming. Collingwood’s facility index is not great. We’re moving into critical on that facility so that day is coming. Would I like it to be a year from now, two years from now, yes I would but realistically there are a number of years down the road until that happens.”
Simcoe County District School Board Vice Chair Jodi Lloyd confirmed that a new high school for Wasaga Beach is not in the capital plan of the School Board at this time.
“It’s not that the trustees at this table don’t want to provide Wasaga Beach with a high school, we would like to do many things but we have to work within certain parameters and certain funding and certain Ministry initiatives.”
Lloyd said that the board has been consistent in saying that the numbers in Wasaga Beach do not support a high school adding that the Ministry has set priorities in recent years with respect to capital funding.
“I do believe that the capital plan as it stands now addresses our most urgent needs moving forward which the Ministry has asked us to identify.”
Lloyd addressed a letter the Ministry of Education provided to the Wasaga Beach High School Task Force citing a need to clarify exactly what the letter said.
“The letter does not say that the Ministry intends to provide funding for a high school in the immediate future. The letter is not a business case for a new school.“
Lloyd said the letter states that the elementary growth in the community would need a future high school.
“It states that the Board will need to plan for additional secondary capacity in the foreseeable future. It’s not an immediate need.”
She also stated that the Board is working of a plan to purchase land for a future high school in Wasaga Beach. She said the Board anticipates the need for a new secondary school to be five to seven years in the future, not now.
“The letter encourages the board to buy the site when we’re ready. We’re working on that.”
— Simcoe County District School Board Vice Chair Jodi Lloyd
“Yes we’re moving to purchase the site but there is not an urgency to the site. Just because you purchase the site it does not mean that funding for a new high school is coming or construction of a new high school is in the near future. We’ve owned sites for ten years and then sold them because the population growth didn’t develop as anticipated. “
She said once the site is designated it will sit waiting until the time is right to build, adding that building a school for 500 to 570 students now in Wasaga Beach wouldn’t be the right thing to do when looking out to what could happen in five to seven years.
“I know the Mayor (Wasaga Beach Mayor Brian Smith) has said put it in on the list and let us worry about the Ministry but I have serious concerns with that. What Wasaga Beach has now is a want, it’s not a need.”
Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper chose not to comment on this story.
Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson said council passed a resolution earlier this year to eliminate some charges the Simcoe County District School Board would otherwise have to pay to review building applications.
“Schools are a critical part of our community fabric. Two of our local elementary schools are undertaking expansions to meet growing demand with Cameron Street Elementary School undergoing a significant expansion that will almost double its size and Mountain View Elementary School in the planning stages of a significant expansion that will add 4 new classrooms. In February of this year, Council passed a resolution to exempt the Simcoe County School Board from the requirement to pay for the Town’s administrative, engineering and legal costs to review building applications. We want to support and assist our local school boards in providing essential educational and extra-curricular programs for our youth.”
Saunderson said council has not had any dicussions regarding any possible rebuild of CCI.
“While there has been no discussion to date about the future of CCI involving Council that I am aware of, CCI is a regional high school that has served the youth of Collingwood and the surrounding area including Wasaga Beach for generations. It is part of our community fabric and Council will want to be involved in any discussions about its future moving forward.”
Suzanne Ley is the Simcoe County District School Board Trustee representing the Town of Collingwood and Clearview Township. She confirms that to date there have been no discussions at the Board table regarding the future of Collingwood Collegiate.
“The Capitol Plan (March 2018) which was recently passed, covers a 3 year planning period consistent with the Ministry’s Capitol Planning cycle. There is no reference to a re build of CCI within that plan. Since we have not discussed a rebuild of CCI, I am not aware of any timeline for such a project.”
The Capitol Plan, March 2018 does however identify schools which have reached the critical to repair rating and CCI is listed as one of the 4 secondary schools currently in this category.
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson Has Joined The Conversation
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson questioned the provincial government about the possibility of a high school being built in the Town of Wasaga Beach during Question Period on March 28th.
“Officials with the Town of Wasaga Beach and I believe the community has the population numbers to justify a secondary school. The town expects significant growth in the next few years. In addition, the town is planning a major downtown development project. All signs point towards the community needing a high school in the near future. Will the government fund a high school in Wasaga Beach if asked to do so by the local school board?”
Minister of Education Indira Naidoo-Harris said the government is aware of the need for a high school in Wasaga Beach and encouraged the town and the Simcoe County District School Board to work together on the project.
“The community of Wasaga Beach would be a good fit for a secondary school in the near future. We are open to accepting a proposal by the board for funding of a high school site. It is my hope the board and the town will work together and have a collaborative discussion in planning for a new secondary school in Wasaga Beach.”
Afterwards, Wilson said that it is clear the Ministry is aware of the issue and is ready to do something about it. I think the need for a high school in Wasaga Beach is clear. Soon, the town is going to have four elementary schools and no high school,” he said.
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