Board official guarantees opening date for Oro-Medonte school

Class, please turn to September 2025 in your calendars.

That’s the opening date of the new Oro-Medonte elementary school and community centre at 739 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W.

John Dance, director of education for the Simcoe County District School Board, guaranteed the opening date Friday afternoon during a news conference at the Oro-Medonte Township Administration Centre where Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey announced the approval to award the tender.

“We’ve started the site work and we’re hoping to get going as soon as possible. The contractor is on site,” Dance said. “Elementary schools usually take around 14 months to build, from shovel in the ground to opening.

“September 2025, for sure,” he added.

When the school was announced in 2018, it was projected to accommodate 357 pupils.

At that time, the Ministry of Education approved $8.5 million in funding. Oro-Medonte committed $6.8 million for the community centre portion of the project.

The school will now accommodate up to 570 pupils, increasing the size of the school by 213 pupil spaces and pushing the cost of the school up to $23.8 million.

The township also increased its funding contribution from $6.8 million to $8.5 million, bringing the total cost for the project to just over $32 million.

Downey, who said this project was on his radar even before he was elected in 2018, explained why the project has taken so long to come to fruition.

“I think part of it was, traditionally, we don’t build for future growth. We build for what’s here now,” he said.

“To get it changed from the 350 to the 570, that was part of the conversation, and we didn’t want to have to do this twice,” the MPP added.

Downey acknowledged 570 pupil spaces may not be sufficient, especially with the number of developments that have sprung up in Oro-Medonte over the past couple of years, or are currently under construction, such as Craighurst Crossing, which will eventually build out to more than 500 homes.

“This is a constant question,” Downey said. “We’re in a high-growth area and that’s exactly the conversation we’re having.”

Oro-Medonte Mayor Randy Greenlaw said this project will have a major impact on the community.

“This is huge,” Greenlaw said. “Not only is it taking care of a community facility and rec centre, but it’s also ensuring students in the area don’t have to travel as far to get their education and it’s a state-of-the-art facility.”

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BarrieToday.com