New School in New Amherst

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.

Collingwood school -  Trustee Donald Blais, principal Josee Lapalme and director of education Andre Blais
Collingwood school
Trustee Donald Blais, principal Josee Lapalme and director of education Andre Blais

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.

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concerned citizen
22 April 2018 6:14 pm

Adding further to the conversation regarding a French Catholic School in New Amherst, when did we start segregating Cobourg into areas based on demographics….east end children, west end seniors only. Ooooops no, its not about demographics…its about land usage (zoning). If rezoning request were to accommodate a medical clinic or bank would that be acceptable to the seniors in New Amherst? The rezoning that is being opposed is for a building, not a medical building or bank building, but a building that will have children as “users”. Then it really is a demographic issue, seniors versus children. Although I am not a lawyer…I would think that would be unconstitutional and illegal.

21 April 2018 11:17 am

The Mayor and town council need to vote for what is right for the community and not just one segment. The proposed French Catholic School and the approved Water Park are good for Cobourg. Cobourg is struggling with an eroded industrial base and downtown store closures. Those willing to invest in our community need to be welcomed, not hassled. New Amherst and the waterfront are not the domain of “seniors” only. The projects will add a unique element to the offerings of Cobourg for children and adults.. Cobourg is/will always be a tourist destination. From 1907-1952 a ferry service connected Cobourg and Rochester NY. At its peak it was typical for a thousand Americans to be aboard during a single trip.Today..the waterfront provides for play activity, boating, casual viewing and strolling. No age group is being deprived. Educational institutions …are required for the success of current and future generations. And remember the care of the elderly inevitably falls onto the young. The “not in my neighbourhood’ attitude is self serving and not beneficial to the community as a whole. I am 76 years young…and with my wife have lived in Cobourg for 50 years. Raised two children in Cobourg…have a child and 4 young grandchildren still living here. Our other child left for job opportunities elsewhere. For the past 33 years myself and wife have lived directly beside one of Cobourg’s public schools. The issues raised by “naysers” have never materialized in a life disruptive way for us. School is in for 194 days/yr of the calendar year (53%), 5 days a week, not on weeks and not during the months of July and August. Students are outside in the school yard approx. 3hrs/day (pre/post, recess, lunch). Vehicle drop off/pick up occurs only 2x/day. and because of design will occur… Read more »

Reply to  ARK
21 April 2018 4:21 pm

Is the daycare associated with the proposed school closed in the summer?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ARK
22 April 2018 11:31 am

Very wise Ark.

7 March 2018 3:51 pm

I live in the New Amherst community. Mr. McGlashon believes that access to the school from Hwy2, along New Amherst Blvd would not be a problem? Does he realize that New Amherst blvd is planned to have business opportunities located on the first floor of those 3-4 story bldgs due to be built – with condo housing above? And that the N.E. Blvd is the main western access into the community? How many school buses would be travelling along this blvd/ 2x/day — every day — during the busiest times of the day?? And..where would these students be bussed from?? There are very few children in this community of mostly 55+ retired and semi-retired people?? And.., what about the parental car traffic which undoubtedly would also be travelling up/down N.E. Blvd for drop-off/pickups?? …with the attendant dangers already documented in other communities. Has he considered that the bus route should be along the proposed “street #2” extension of Kerr St., instead….if this must be built??

Reply to  JayGui
8 March 2018 10:35 am

If you are wondering whether the town’s representatives think about traffic flow and the related infrastructure the answer is absolutely not. By way of example, look at the mess they participated in creating in and around Darcy, CCI, CR Gummow PS, north to University and east beyond Brook Side. The level of denial that there was a problem from the Mayor and his office was inexcusable. I spoke with him personally about this and he claimed that it really wasn’t that bad and the main problem was drivers were disobeying traffic rules. So expect the same in New Amherst…or vote these people out in the fall.

6 March 2018 12:49 pm

Used to be provincial funding for new build schools was approved only when no suitable existing closed schools were available amongst all school boards. But, like Miriam M, I’m not aware of current rules & regs. However, offering French Immersion in New Amherst would certainly increase house values in the area as long as you weren’t located too near the school to be affected by the ton of increased car & bus traffic.

Reply to  silverhairedsenior
21 April 2018 4:24 pm

The proposed school is not French Immersion but is a French school. Two different things from two different school boards!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
22 April 2018 11:32 am

So what?

6 March 2018 9:55 am

CRAZY the residents of New Amherst must be devastated they bought there on the promotional basis of active retirement community Now a school ? Makes no sense when there are plenty of other lands about Cobourg that are far more suitable and zoned correctly
Like the 13 acres on Kerr st W running up to the Park it was left there for that reason.
Or may be that 30 acres at the west end of Depalma Dr that way there will be less Bus traffic through residential areas or the busiest area along Hwy 2..
There are plenty of empty schools and more on the way available at 10 cents on the dollar
compared to new Const.
Its also obvious how the Old West CDC is doing ITS NOT !
But it went cheap

Reply to  perplexed
6 March 2018 10:56 am

Perplexed – was New Amherst really promoted as an retirement community. Seems strange giving the number of multi-story, multi-bedroom 2,000+ sq. ft homes that were built in the community.

6 March 2018 9:20 am

Another waste of taxpayer money…pure & simple.

Bill Thompson
6 March 2018 8:40 am

Any news on how the new school (old CDC ) is working out ?
Couldn’t that have been a consideration for this new move for an elementary school right in town when the New Amherst Plan was dropped ?

Reply to  Bill Thompson
7 March 2018 6:50 pm

Not much being said about the old CDC. It does make you wonder why this is the case..

Miriam Mutton
5 March 2018 4:31 pm

Interesting .. did the catholic school board just announce closure of another small school, St. Michaels, in downtown Cobourg? Given that the catholic church is adjacent the downtown school, maybe a rebuild of the school may be an option. At least, someone had better give some thought to sunday parking for churchgoers (the paved school yard doubles as weekend/evening parking) if the St. Michael site is to be sold.

A new school building can be nice but a rebuild is also possible. I worked on new school projects for a few years and one site had one original wall left standing and the new school was built around it … had something to do with the funding formula at the time.

And, with the closure of St. Michaels School there will be no neighbourhood park/play area in this sector of town. Officially, the designated park for this neighbourhood is Victoria Park. Good luck sending children there on their own.

Anyhow, looks like this new school is well on its way to being built. New Amherst/WestPark area is designed as a walkable community … seems odd that bussed students are to be relied upon to populate the school. I hope design of safe routes to this school (walking, cycling) are also part of the planning review. Parent/guardian student drop off areas are the biggest safety problem these days.

John Draper
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
5 March 2018 4:40 pm

The French Catholic School board is separate to the English Catholic School board. I also heard that the closure of St Michael’s was subject to getting finance to consolidate schools – this seems unlikely.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  John Draper
5 March 2018 7:09 pm

Yes, I realize they are officially two different boards. However, there is one taxpayer after all. Also, in some jurisdictions school boards have shared the same building, as well as including community facilities like gyms, meeting rooms and/or libraries.

And, a school closure has typically followed the process of other school boards having first chance to claim the property before it is put up for sale. This is how it used to work and if things have changed in the last few years, I do not know.

Would you clarify your last point? Financing or closure unlikely?

John Draper
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
5 March 2018 7:24 pm

Going on memory, I saw a report that said that the Catholic School board had three schools that could be housed in one new building – and if that were to be financed, they would do that to upgrade (in effect) all three. But there was doubt they would get finance – probably per Ben’s comment below.

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
5 March 2018 5:22 pm

As I understand the Province funds the building of new schools but not the rebuilding of old ones!!

Must be a bureaucratic reason for that it certainly isn’t commone sense!

Homer Simpson
Reply to  ben
5 March 2018 6:38 pm

The St. Michael situation will be an odd one indeed. How do you redevelop a school that also serves as a parking lot for an adjacent church? Perhaps it will be torn down with the old heritage part remaining.