Thursday, July 2, 2009

Barrie could learn from Orillia

The Packet and Times had this article today coming out of a city council meeting, indicating the city has put in offers to purchase four schools slated for closure when the Simcoe County District School Board voted to build a new 'Lions Oval' school early this school year.
"We're better off having them in our ownership," Mayor Ron Stevens said this week.
"We want to acquire them and see where we go. Nothing is rock solid."
Hillcrest, Mount Slaven and David H. Church public schools are all being closed by the Simcoe County District School Board, which is building a new elementary school at the Lions Oval.
The historic Orillia Central School on Coldwater Street, which houses a daycare and alternative school, has also been surplused and is up for sale.
A number of possible uses for the properties have been discussed informally, ranging from neighbourhood parks to affordable housing.
The city could work in partnership with other groups or corporations to develop the properties or transfer them to the private sector with specific directions for projects, Stevens said.
If the city is successful in acquiring any or all of the properties, input would be sought from the public regarding potential uses, he said.
What a smart move by the city to hold onto buildings that already have community use in the facility or on the grounds. By owning the buildings, the city can direct what happens to them. If it wants to designate, it can. If it wants to move programs in there, it can.
Much, much smarter way of holding onto these public assets than simply designating them, as the council down Highway 11 did last week when it designated a school destined for closure after the next school year.