'A wonderful opportunity': New Oro-Medonte elementary school and community centre ready to roll

·2 min read

Kids who aren’t even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes will benefit from a new school on Line 4 North.

A partnership 11 years in the making will begin the physical ground work to build a joint community hall and public elementary school in the coming weeks.

“It’s really a wonderful opportunity for the entire Oro-Medonte community,” said Coun. Ian Veitch during the Feb. 24 council meeting, before approving the motion to let the tree clearing begin.

Reaching back to the township’s Strategic Plan of 2010, it was determined a community centre along the Horseshoe Valley Road corridor, providing recreation, arts and culture, should be considered.

The wish-list item drew a little closer to a reality in 2013 when a 19-acre plot of land was purchased by the township.

The Simcoe County District School Board had plans to build an elementary school in the area and a partnership was born of the need to share tax dollars and acreage.

“It’s definitely unique within our board,” said Andrew Keuken, manager of planning with the school board.

There are existing shared-use school and municipality agreements, such as the collaboration of space within Elmvale District Secondary School and a shared library at Nottawasaga Pines in Angus, but no partnerships of this sort in Simcoe County, he said.

Mayor Harry Hughes has seen this project through since its inception and said the partnership is one of a kind.

“It has turned out very well for us,” Hughes said of the initial purchase of the land.

“That school was the only school in rural Ontario that the Ministry (of Education) granted funding to build during that intake. And that would be because we had the land and that partnership agreement in place and I think that would be instrumental in the ministry’s considering to give the money in order to build a school.”

Line 4’s as-yet-unnamed centre will include a fitness centre, a multipurpose area for hosting meetings and gatherings, an 8,000-square foot gymnasium, as well as external trails.

The school’s 36,324-square-foot portion will host three kindergarten classrooms, 11 regular-sized classrooms, a learning centre and library.

Council approved the funding of about $7 million, which will pull $4.4 million derived from development charges, $2.5 million in debt issuance and another $150,000 from its parkland reserve account.

Hughes said he hopes to see the new community hall and school open in fall 2023.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance