Comment 74411

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 15, 2012 at 13:04:14

I just received a response from Board Chair Tim Simmons:

Thank you for your correspondence, as well as your interest in the future of our city and the HWDSB Education Centre.

Our consideration of a new Education Centre has been a long process many years in the making. Faced with $28 million in deferred maintenance costs, discussions begin in March 2007 about the possibility of consolidating and replacing the Board's non-instructional facilities. During this time, we certainly did consider restoring 100 Main Street West and heard from delegations calling for the same. But ultimately, the cost of this option would not be fiscally responsible. We are continually aware that we can only pursue this plan with Ministry of Education approval.

The current Education Centre is facing substantial renovation costs in order to meet current building standards. In addition to the Education Centre, we have additional administrative facilities that also require significant upgrades to structural, mechanical and electrical systems. All these current administrative facilities will be combined in a new administrative building. Proceeds from the sale of excess administrative sites can be put back into our schools.

As we listened to our public, stakeholders told us they wanted HWDSB to remain in the downtown core. We took this advice quite seriously and worked hard to find a suitable, affordable downtown location that would allow us to consolidate our administrative facilities. After considering sites including the West Harbourlands and many others, we were unfortunately unable to make that vision a reality due to the costs involved and HWDSB's consolidated administrative needs.

These needs include but are not limited to a Boardroom complex, meeting rooms, computer services, mail and printing, maintenance workshops, warehousing and much more. The Crestwood site was narrowed down during an extensive analysis of potential sites throughout Hamilton.

When Trustees declared 100 Main Street West surplus to HWDSB needs in March 2011, it marked the early stages of a potential move of the Board's administrative operations to the Crestwood site, subject to Ministry approvals. This decision followed a lengthy consultation process that led to the development of a Vision and Clarification Document, in which community stakeholders agreed upon the long-term direction and vision for a new Education Centre.

The process also included the study of the program and space requirements in a new administrative building, the development of criteria to use when selecting a new site for the building, and the creation of a business case to ensure fiscal responsibility. We have not been doing this alone, and we been working closely with our City of Hamilton partners during this process.

We continue to listen to our community, so that public input can guide the design of the new Education Centre. We held a recent architectural open house during which we heard from the public about the new Education Centre, and an online survey on the topic remains open until the end of February at http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/aboutus/feedback/open-house/

We have taken many years to consider potential sites, building design, funding options, location within the city and more. In the end, however, to be fiscally responsible we needed to consolidate our administrative operations. Our most affordable option is to go to a site we already own.

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