By Gord Bowes, News staff
Nine new elementary schools and a high school could be built over the next 15 years to meet growing demand in Binbrook, Stoney Creek and Winona.
New housing in Binbrook and Upper Stoney Creek is expected to yield almost 6,000 new elementary students by 2028, according to consultants’ reports received this year by Hamilton’s public and Catholic school boards.
The new growth above the escarpment is putting pressure on the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
There is an immediate need for one new building, possibly three more by 2028, says Catholic board chair Pat Daly.
“The need clearly for us will be Upper Stoney Creek and Binbrook,” says Daly. “We have a real need in the near future for new sites and buildings there.”
The report suggests the Catholic board purchase land over the next two years in two Binbrook subdivisions along Fletcher Road to build 550-seat elementary schools.
It takes between 12 and 18 months to build an elementary school.
The report also projects the need to acquire land for new schools in 2020 and 2023.
New growth in the area is also expected to yield more than 800 extra Catholic high school students by 2027 — possibly requiring the board to build a new high school to accommodate them and ease the burden on Bishop Ryan.
“If any of this development doesn’t happen, then obviously the numbers change,” said Daly.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will also be busy building new schools to serve the fast-growing area above the escarpment.
A new elementary school could be needed as soon as 2016 in Summit Estates and the board should be ready to acquire land for one near the Starlite Drive-in in 2020, according to the report.
Three more schools will likely have to be built between 2020 and 2025 to serve the growing needs of Binbrook and Upper Stoney Creek.
“If it grows even quicker and the need is there, and the site is available, the board would be in a position to purchase a site when it’s required,” said Daniel Del Bianco, senior facilities officer with the public board.
A new addition at Saltfleet and the new Nora Frances Henderson high school on the east Mountain are expected to meet the board’s secondary enrolment demands over the next 15 years.
Winona is another high-growth area that both boards are keeping an eye on.
The public board replaced an older school with a larger 770 capacity building in 2012 but will likely need to acquire another site in 2022 to handle increased enrolment coming from new housing.
There’s already one under construction in Winona — St. Gabriel — but another new Catholic elementary school could be required in Winona within the next eight years.
However, in older areas of Stoney Creek, enrolment is steadily declining.
The decline will result in two closure reviews by the public board in the next few years.
The cluster of Collegiate Avenue, Eastdale, Green Acres, Memorial (Stoney Creek), Mountain View and R.L. Hyslop is scheduled for a review in 2015/2016.
Another review is scheduled for Elizabeth Bagshaw, Glen Brae, Glen Echo, Sir Isaac Brock and Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 2016/2017.
A few hundred high school students from new developments in lower Stoney and east Hamilton are expected to fit into existing space at Glandale, Orchard Park and Sir Winston Churchill.
The Catholic school board does not have any closure reviews scheduled and any increase in high school students should be accommodated within existing space at Cardinal Newman.
The enrolment forecasts were included in studies presented to the boards as they formulated their revised education development charges bylaws. The numbers are put together to give school boards an idea of where growth will be and where they should be acquiring land — and when — in order to know how to levy charges on new homes.
“It only identifies when a site should be acquired and that can fluctuate — it can be sooner, it can be later, depending on how quickly development itself comes online,” said Del Bianco.
“It’s meant as a high-level analysis,” he said, and looks more at geographic areas than at individual schools.”
The plight of Hamilton boards is not unique, said Del Baianco. Most boards around the GTA face the same problem of declining enrolment in older areas but an explosion of new homes in other areas.
“They will all be to different extremes, but they all are experiencing it.”
Five years from now, as the boards revisit those bylaws, new studies will be presented.
OPEN AND SHUT: Overview