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Land swap puts new Mountain high school ‘on track’

Securing site settles down transition, board chair says

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is trading land it owns but doesn’t need for the site of a new high school on the southeast Mountain.

Trustees emerged from a closed-door session on Monday to approve the acquisition of a property in Shermal Estates in return for “an equitable land exchange.”

Board vice-chair Todd White, who presided over the session, said he couldn’t disclose which property the board is swapping or the precise location of the school site, other than it will be south of Rymal Road by Upper Sherman Avenue.

The Mountain News has learned two potential board properties were in the mix – 26 acres by Jerome Park, located south of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway on Upper Wellington Street, and nearly 10 acres byRymal Road and Garth Street.

The latter, known as the Carpenter site, sits next to St. Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic school.

White said he expected details of the land swap to be made public shortly and the acquisition of the Shermal Estates site will ensure the new high school will be ready by September 2016.

It will replace Hill Park, set to close in June, and Barton, which will be renamed and serve as the transition location for the new school until it opens.

“We’re completely on track now, so we’re excited that we now have the property, or will take possession shortly,” White said.

Board chair Jessica Brennan called the deal “wonderful,” noting the board struggled to secure a site for a new high school in the city’s lower north end – one to be built near the new Pan Am stadium, with parking to be located on expropriated land at Scott Park.

“We’re able to say that we’ve landed. We know where we’re going, which we didn’t quite have, so that’s very exciting. That sort of gives everybody a spot on the map, something to look forward to,” she said.

“As an individual trustee, I’m certainly concerned about a lot of the transitions and changes up on the Mountain, so this starts to settle things down. I think that’s great.”

The land swap comes as trustees also approved the sale of eight acres of surplus land near the corner of Mud Street and Pritchard Road known as the Albion-Ksivickis site.

White said he couldn’t yet divulge the buyer or purchase price, but those details will also be made public as soon as possible.

The property sits next to 10.4 acres of vacant land by the Stone Church Road interchange of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and is owned by Infrastructure Ontario, the province’s real estate arm.

Ian McConachie, an agency spokesperson, said in an email that the property “has been determined to be surplus to the needs of the provincial government” and was put up for sale in mid-October.

Infrastructure Ontario was to begin accepting offers for the site, commonly known as “the earlobe,” on Dec. 11.

– with files from Gord Bowes

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