Council to ponder purchasing Waubaushene Pine School

·3 min read

Council will begin its discussions about the fate of Waubaushene Pines School on Wednesday.

The property was put up for sale by the Simcoe County District School Board last year and the Township of Tay was offered dibs on buying the one-acre property on 199 Pine St.

At that time, council formed an ad-hoc committee to dig further into the matter to determine the viability of the 6,800-square-foot vacant building for the township.

The committee has looked at and presented in its report various options to consider if the township buys the property. All in all, according to the committee report by Coun. Barry Norris, the cost could add up to at least $1.6 million, which includes $331,000 in market value of the property and $1.3 million that will be needed to demolish and rebuild a similarly sized building or $1.29 million to renovate the building.

The report summarizes the observations of the walk through committee members did on Dec. 17. The touring group included four council members and several staff members, as well as a municipal real estate appraiser. The committee met up a week later to collect feedback from those who went through the building.

The discussion sparked concerns around updates that would be needed to make the property usable as a public building.

A structural engineer and designer will have to develop plans for renovations required to bring the building up to code, says the committee's report included in the agenda.

The committee also discussed the possibility of using the building as a "community room," which would be too small if only houses in one of the four classroom on site. However, the committee mentions the option of combining two rooms to have a bigger room.

Another consideration was for the Waubaushene library to be incorporated into the building. This could be made possible in the classroom that has the most space at approximately 2,100 square feet, whereas the current library is about 1,500 square feet.

The committee also recommends a further option of using one of the classrooms as a daycare, office facility or as a boardroom. As well, the committee discussed the possibility of using the facility for an attainable housing project, which would also require a complete renovation.

One community group has already come forward with an online petition to gather community support for the township to buy the building for a much-needed community hub centre in Waubaushene.

"Our vision for a Waubaushene Community Centre has space for visiting health-care practitioners, a youth centre, a library (with space for tutoring and activities), space for sports programs, seniors’ programs, and a heating/cooling centre for disaster relief," writes the Waubaushene Action Group, creator of the petition page. "We need this dedicated centre to provide safe space every day, seven days a week."

On a Facebook group titled Waubaushene and Area Virtual Hub, Joe Whitwell has shared the post with all group members alerting them of the upcoming discussion at the meeting. He added in response to a question by MidlandToday that it's a good location with lots of possibilities for a much-needed hub.

The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. and can be viewed online. Residents can also listen to the meeting by calling 705-999-0385 and entering meeting ID 846 1457 8228.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com