Sir John A. Mac­don­ald com­mu­nity hub gath­ers mo­men­tum

School board has in­quiries from five po­ten­tial part­ners

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - RICHARD LEITNER Hamil­ton Com­mu­nity News

Hamil­ton’s pub­lic school board has found five part­ners in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity hub on the Sir John A. Mac­don­ald Sec­ondary School prop­erty as part of a plan to build an el­e­men­tary school there af­ter the high school closes.

Trus­tees emerged from an hour-long closed ses­sion on Mon­day to di­rect staff to con­tinue pur­su­ing the hub, which could in­clude a hous­ing com­po­nent as well as health, re­cre­ation and so­cial ser­vices.

Board chair Todd White said all of the five part­ners have signed non-bind­ing mem­o­ran­dums of un­der­stand­ing and will bol­ster the business case to the prov­ince for the new school, which would re­place Hess and Strath­cona el­e­men­tary schools. The part­ners in­clude the city, Hamil­ton Health Sciences, the Hamil­ton Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, Hamil­ton East Ki­wa­nis Non-Profit Homes Inc. and the YMCA of Hamil­ton, Burling­ton and Brant­ford.

White said the board is seek­ing about $16 mil­lion for the school, which is pro­posed to also in­clude an as­sess­ment cen­tre and al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams cur­rently of­fered in rented lo­ca­tions else­where, as well as a child­care cen­tre op­er­ated by the city. He said the board is en­cour­aged by dis­cus­sions about the hub with a num­ber of provin­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing lo­cal Lib­eral MPP Ted McMeekin. NDP leader and Hamil­ton Cen­tre MPP An­drea Hor­wath has also of­fered sup­port.

“We’re feel­ing very con­fi­dent about our hub de­sign. It’s one of a kind in Hamil­ton and I think through­out the prov­ince,” White said. “Be­cause this doesn’t fit the typical mould, I think they’re very in­ter­ested in the en­tire pro­posal.”

Trus­tees ap­proved the closure of Mac­don­ald in 2012 as part of plans for a new high school at Scott Park. It is ex­pected to open in Septem­ber 2019.

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