By Gord Bowes, News staff
A land deal for the new Mountain high school still isn’t finalized, but the public school board will be submitting a rezoning application this month, says a board official.
Barring any holdups, work on what will be known as Henderson Secondary School will begin in the new year, said Daniel Del Bianco, the board’s facilities manager.
That will allow for the halls to be filled in September 2016, he said.
“There are a couple of outstanding conditions that need to be satisfied and then the deal will close,” Del Bianco said of the land deal. “It’s not that either party is not a willing participant in this, we just have to finish our due diligence.”
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board announced it had reached a deal the owner of Shermal Estates, a subdivision planned for 26 acres south of Rymal Road at Upper Sherman. Last month, the Ministry of Education announced it would fund the 1,200-seat south Mountain high school the board had requested.
Del Bianco said he can’t speak about details because until the sale is final, it remains an in-camera board issue. He said he doesn’t expect any issues with sewer capacity or storm water management.
City staff are determining if there is enough sanitary sewer capacity in the area, said Ward 7 councillor Scott Duvall.
There is also currently no storm sewer service on the south side of Rymal, so a storm water management pond will need to be built on the school site, he said.
The school board would be responsible for building the extension of Upper Sherman south of Rymal, said Duvall. It would also be responsible for urbanizing part of Rymal Road and intersection improvements.
The urbanization — including sidewalks and widening — of Upper Sherman from Stone Church to Rymal is currently scheduled for 2017 and an upgrade of Rymal through the area is two years further down the road, said Duvall.
Once the board has a plan in place, the road improvement plans can be looked at again.
But Duvall said with continued delays — the board originally said it would open the school in the fall of 2015 — he’s doubtful the board will be able to break ground as soon as it hopes.
“Since nothing has been finalized or an application submitted, I don’t see the school opening in 2016,” he said.
With provincial funding in place, the board will be submitting a rezoning application to the city before the end of April, said Del Bianco.
The board couldn’t submit it earlier, Del Bianco said, because it had not been able to able develop a site plan while it waited to hear whether the province was going to approve funding for a solo project or a joint effort with the French public school board. “Now that we understand it’s a standalone facility, we can develop a site plan,” said Del Bianco.
Zoning, building design and the closure of the deal can all occur as three separate processes, said Del Bianco, so the September 2016 opening should be achievable.
“Hopefully within the next couple of months we’ll have something formal to announce to you, but until that time we continue to march along with all of our approval processes.”
The board approved building a new high school in May 2012 after an extensive high school closure review which decided Barton, Hill Park and Mountain should close.
Barton and Hill Park were to close in June 2015 with the new school opening that fall, but a delay acquiring the property and a drop in enrolment at the two schools changed that schedule. Hill Park is now closing in June, with students dispersing to other high schools. Barton is being renamed Henderson Secondary School this fall; that name will move with the student body when the new high school opens.