Sir John A. Macdonald community hub gathers momentum
School board has inquiries from five potential partners
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.