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Ward 11 councillor Brenda Johnson

Hamilton offers to buy Winona Public School

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

The city is making an offer to purchase Winona Public School from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

Hamilton councillors agreed to a motion to purchase the facility at their Aug. 11 general issues committee meeting.

Politicians will vote on the recommendation at an Aug. 15 council meeting.

The idea for the city to purchase the former school location had been proposed by former councillor Dave Mitchell. Soon after the 2010 election, Stoney Creek councillor Brenda Johnson, who defeated Mitchell, took up the cause to get “much needed” recreation facilities into the Winona area.

She has championed to transform the former public school, which opened in 1983, into a recreation centre for the community.

Johnson also wanted to provide additional programming offered by other community groups, including the YMCA.

Under the recommendation, the city’s recreation staff is required to present  councillors with a report about how to convert the building and land, located at Winona Road and Highway 8, into a recreation centre.

City staff estimates it could cost nearly $100,000 to operate a recreation centre for the area.

Along with the Winona Public School, councillors agreed to make an offer to the school board to purchase the recently closed Prince Philip school site in Ward 1.

During the 2010 municipal campaign, one of the priorities residents made clear to candidates was the need for more leisure and recreation facilities within their area. Residents reiterated their demand for more recreation facilities in a survey conducted by Johnson last year.

A city-sponsored indoor recreation study in 2008 titled Use, Renovation and Replacement Study of Hamilton Recreation and Public Use Facilities found that lower Stoney Creek had the fewest recreation facilities per capita and is the most under served area of the city.

The study was done prior to the construction of the Stoney Creek Recreation Centre on King Street.

In 2010, prior to the municipal election, Mitchell proposed a motion to have the city conduct a feasibility study on the recreation needs in Winona and whether the city should purchase the former Winona Public School.

But after the municipal election that year, it took until 2014 for the public school board to declare the property surplus.

During the ensuing years Johnson had proposed renting the building out for community use.

In 2011, the school board opened a new $11-million Winona Elementary School on the site of the former Cardinal Newman high school east campus at Lewis Road and Barton Street.

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