At our recent board meeting it was decided that it made sense to share the question we posed as a board at the June 3 Neighbourhoods Meeting as we feel this is a critical issue for our neighbourhood.
Here it is;
For a few years now, the closure (and in many cases demolition) of our schools has been a prominent issue in Hamilton. Whether it be in rural areas, the suburbs, or right downtown, both high schools and elementary schools have been slated for closure. Often, these plans have been met with stiff and vocal opposition from both local residents whose children are affected, and by Hamiltonians in general who see these closures as short-sighted and motivated only by trustees dealing with constant budget cuts, and a school board that only cares about the bottom line.
Last year it was announced that three lower city high schools would be closed and replaced with only one, located centrally to the three catchment areas. One of these is Sir John A. MacDonald on York Blvd., which is attended by teenagers from all three of the neighbourhoods represented here tonight. Sir John A. MacDonald is scheduled to close no later than 2015, despite a good utilization rate of 72%, and what with a changing demographic in the downtown core, led by recent immigrants to Canada with larger families, and more and more people choosing to move back into the area as part of the revitalization of downtown, the closure of Sir John A. seems short-sighted at best.
With its gymnasium, auditorium, and sports field, the school is also an important facility for many in the Central Neighbourhood, as there is no community centre in this area. A very short list of government initiatives and groups utilizing the school include Pathways to Education, Alternatives for Youth, Hamilton Water Festival, Hamilton Blood Services, Metis Women’s Circle, and Elders From the Aboriginal Community.
It is also not without some trepidation that local resident wonder what the city’s plans are for the building and/or land after the planned closure. The Central Neighbourhood Association would first and foremost prefer to see Sir John A. MacDonald retained in its current use as a High School. Here to speak on these issues is candidate for Trustee for Wards 1 and 2, Chris Earl.