When the New Amherst development was first proposed, a new Public Elementary School was included but that idea was subsequently dropped. But now a French Catholic Elementary School is proposed there for up to 250 students. This would cater to a large area (all of Northumberland) with most students being bussed in. The proposal is in initial stages and although it meets the requirements of the Town’s and County’s official plans, rezoning will be required. That means a public meeting must be held within 120 days. Currently, the proposal is to be presented to the Sustainability and Planning committee at their meeting on March 6. Approval is recommended by Director of Planning Glenn McGlashon, therefore, subject to input from a public meeting and Council approval, the project is likely to proceed.
The school would be operated by Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir which is the Roman Catholic separate French language school board for the South-Central region of Ontario. They operate 44 elementary schools but the nearest one to Cobourg is in Peterborough. The location of the school would be on land currently vacant at the north-west corner of New Amherst Boulevard and Fred Adams Street. That’s south of Highway 2, west of New Amherst Boulevard and just south of Carlisle Street. Access from Highway 2 would be along New Amherst Boulevard – Glenn says that this is a collector road and traffic studies suggest that the expected traffic would not be a problem.
The school would be a one-storey, 2,627 sq. m (28,280 sq. ft.) building designed to accommodate approx. 200-250 students within eight classrooms plus a daycare facility, kindergarten rooms and a gymnasium of approx. 200 sq. m (2,150 sq. ft.). With related parking, loading and playground areas. it would occupy 4.6 acres.
In analyzing traffic, the consultants hired by the developer compared the school to one of similar size in Collingwood – it opened in 2016 with approx. 117 students and now has 140. They also pointed out that the original plans for a Public elementary school elsewhere in New Amherst would have had 600 students and more traffic than this one.
Since this meets the requirements of the Official Plans, it’s hard to see how re-zoning permission would be denied. One can assume that the School Board expects funding to be approved for the project (or it has already been approved) but there is no word on the status of this.