By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
School board officials say everything is in order to begin renovation and expansion of Highland Secondary School by this summer, but City of Hamilton staff says they have not seen the required building permit application yet.
George Wong, chief building engineer at the City, said last Wednesday there is no application in the city's system from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to build an addition or renovate the Governor's Road school. One night later, HWDSB superintendent Mag Gardner said building permit approval was imminent, and everything was on schedule to start construction by the beginning of July.
According to the Ontario Building Code, it would take at least 20 days to approve a building permit application that is deemed complete and requires no further information.
“When the building permit is approved – and we anticipate that will be very soon – we will work with the city,” Gardner said during the final meeting of the Dundas High School Transition Advisory Committee. “The construction schedule is exactly where it should be. This is exactly what we anticipated.”
She said the construction tender will go out on May 30, with the contract being awarded soon after, and Highland will be off-limits to teachers as of the last day of June. Major construction will then begin the first week of July, according to Gardner.
But Wong said last week any questions about the required building permit for Highland should be directed to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board – to find out when they plan to submit an application.
Dio Ortiz, the City’s Manager of Building Engineering & Zoning, confirmed last Friday the school board had not yet applied for a building permit He said although different contractors have contacted the city for background information on the proposed Highland renovation, the city’s building department had not heard anything from the school board.
Ortiz said no timeline could be estimated for the building permit, or for any construction to start, because there are several factors involved in the comprehensive review of a building permit application and the clock might not start ticking on the 20-day legislated period for a decision until some time after the permit application is actually submitted.
Gardner told committee members last Thursday night she would not answer any questions because she had no further information.
Committee member Margot Carnahan was disappointed no questions from the committee would be answered by Gardner. Instead, members were invited to write their questions on post-it notes, and Gardner promised to email answers to them.
In a switch from all previous meetings of the committee, which began work in March 2013, the superintendent did not chair the meeting. Instead, Dundas Valley Secondary School principal Em Del Sordo ran the discussion and was the only board representative to answer questions from the committee.
Last Thursday night, a committee member asked what the back-up plan is, if construction were delayed for some reason.
“We have not had a discussion about a back-up plan, because there won’t be a delay,” Dundas Valley Secondary School principal Em Del Sordo said.