qcpmm · 2022-02-07

Save sports fields: Residents

Public input has played a major role in the creation of a report that will determine the future of Orillia secondary schools ODCVI and Park Street Collegiate Institute.

That’s the word from Michael Gordon, one of the members of Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) looking into the closure of both local high schools.

At public meetings held over the past few months, members of the ARC committee have received input from Orillia residents, with respect to the two educational facilities.

“The input from the public was very helpful in the preparation of the final report that has been submitted to the school board,” said Gordon.

Among the 11 recommendations made in the report, is a call for the closure of both ODCVI and Park Street high schools, along with renovations and retrofits to Twin Lakes Secondary School.

As well, the report calls for the history of the two closed schools be incorporated into the design and construction elements of the new school.

A copy of the ARC report has been forwarded to the Simcoe County District School Board, which will discuss it at a June meeting in Midhurst.

“The major recommendations that were added after the meetings centered around trying to retain the track and soccer/football fields for recreational use, at whichever space is not used to build the new school,” said Gordon.

He noted the recreation space could be used by the school board, or partnerships could be forged with other sports user groups within the city.

“That was the main thing we took away from the meetings. People were saying they just don’t want the board to surplus and sell the unused site, because it has the potential to give the city even more outdoor recreational space,” said Gordon.

Emphasis was placed on retaining use of the soccer fields and track facilities in place at both ODCVI and Park Street Collegiate.

Others suggest converting the Hillcrest Public School site into recreational space, after the school is closed in the future.

“That is a whole different option because it will cost a lot of money to take that building down and then do grading on the property and turn it into a usable field.

Right now there just isn’t the funding to do that right now as part of the part of the new school funding envelope,” said Gordon.

He noted the school board put the Mount Slaven, Hillcrest, David H. Church and Central school properties up for sale two weeks ago.

“The input we took from the crowds at the public meetings was that the school board shouldn’t just sell whichever property the school board decides not to use for the new school. They wanted to see if there was some way the board could retain the track and field/soccer portions and then maybe sell the rest,” said Gordon.

Gordon noted it would cost an estimated $25 million to build a new secondary school in Orillia to replace ODCVI and Park Street.