Burkevale could find new home on former Dunlop Street school site

The future of 51 Dunlop St. is still unknown, but the town of Penetanguishene is moving forward to whatever that might become.

Burkevale Protestant Separate School was listed on a notice of motion during the recent Penetanguishene council meeting, by Coun. George Vadeboncoeur and Mayor Doug Rawson who were looking at 51 Dunlop St. as a potential new property for the facility.

The site, formerly host to the Penetanguishene Secondary School until its demolition and purchase last year, was approved for unknown future designation of its lands as a recreation centre in March.

That future designation inched forward a little with the notice of motion to be brought up at the October meeting, where council will have an opportunity to discuss: the town’s interest to work with the Penetanguishene Protestant Separate School Board in having the school on 51 Dunlop St.; to donate that vacated school (built in 1965 at 39 Burke St.) to the town; to look at affordable housing for the 39 Burke St. property by donating it to the county, and to establish a task force and work with all parties including the Ministry of Education.

“Coun. Vadeboncoeur has been working hard on trying to find a solution to work collaboratively with Burkevale School,” Rawson told MidlandToday.

“The motion that's coming forward is: Could we look at the old PSS site at 51 Dunlop St. to become the future community hub, in consultation/collaboration with Burkevale? The school could be there and share parking, and we can share some recreational resources for the community, but it’s also there for the school's perspective,” said Rawson.

As the notice of motion was raised in the recent meeting, no discussion or debate was given as the intent was solely to introduce the topic to council, staff and the public.

“All we’ve done as a council – we’ve just designated the land of 51 Dunlop as a future community/recreational-type centre. We haven't decided: is it one pad, two pad, one gym, two gyms,” Rawson explained, reiterating that no decisions or discussions have been made by council.

“It's literally been a few conversations one to one. I've had a couple with Burkevale as has Coun. Vadeboncoeur; actually, I had a conversation with (Minister of Education) Stephen Lecce at AMO this year about it.

“So there’s been a few sidebar conversations. But as a council, we haven't had a chance to truly look at this,” said Rawson.

The 51 Dunlop St. notice of motion regarding Burkevale Protestant Separate School can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.

Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca