By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
The city’s planning department will move forward with a closure impact study of Parkside Secondary School after internal confusion over the plan led staff to mistakenly report that no such review was to take place.
Jason Thorne, general manager of planning and economic development for the city, clarified the situation in a letter to the Dundas Star News on July 14.
Originally, planning staff told the Star News at the beginning of July a framework for future closure impact studies was being developed, but would not be applied to Parkside, despite a specific request to do so from Dundas Community Council. However, Thorne’s letter said a review would be done to study the Dundas school’s closure impact.
“The intent was always to look at Parkside. That was the direction from council,” Thorne said. “The confusion came around how exactly we would be dealing with Parkside.”
Thorne’s letter said a framework will be developed to study the impact of Parkside’s closure on property values, community identity, property taxes, loss of greenspace and traffic impacts. He added during a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that the Parkside closure impact review plan was developed “over the past couple of days.”
The Parkside study will be different than the model used to study the impact of school closures for schools that are slated to be shut. Thorne described that type of study as “a social impact study” that looks at school closure impacts on students and their families.
“These studies generally begin prior to closure,” Thorne wrote. “Baseline data is collected before the school is closed and the effects of the school closure are assessed against the baseline data. Obviously, in the case of Parkside, which has already been closed, this type of study can not be done.”
Parkside was officially “closed” by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board last month, but will continue operating as part of the two-campus Dundas Valley Secondary School while anticipated construction continues at Highland until August 2015.
The original community council motion was referred by city council to the director of planning on April 23. It was specifically for a Parkside closure impact study, but suggested that study could provide the framework for future impact studies.
Planning staff were directed to report back to councillors on the city’s planning committee. That report is still pending.