Catholic Central relocation
By Todd Shearon
Students and teachers are waiting for the development of further plans in the relocation of Catholic Central High School.
The WECDSB and the City of Windsor are working to relocate the school to the Windsor Arena — Windsor Water World site.
Both parties have been working for several years on this project and how it can become a catalyst in the revitalization of Windsor’s downtown.
“Subsequent to the announcement in the late fall about Catholic Central relocating, everybody assumes the shovel is going to be in the ground immediately and we’ll have this built in six months,” said WECSB Director of Education, Paul Picard. “In actual fact, the announcement just sets fundamentals of the framework moving forward.”
Normally the process of building a new high school involves locating a site, then getting confirmation of funding for land acquisitions, but this process is a little different.
Despite having an understanding going back over three years with the City of Windsor about process, the board has had to take a couple steps backwards for clarifications.
“There has been another election and there’s been a switch of council,” said Picard. “Once the formal announcement came we had to revisit things to make certain we have a consistent understanding of what this is going to look like and how it’s going to move moving forward. That’s the essence of it.”
The two parties are having conversations to make sure all collective understandings on both sides are the same before they can proceed to the next step.
“The hope was always to turn this around and be ready as quick as possible,” said Ward 3 Councillor Rino Bortolin. “I think the timelines were always ambitious to start with.”
Before building permits and architectural designs can be made, there are some issues that need to be resolved.
For example, the WECSB must deal with the cost of the demolition of Windsor Arena, an expense which could be upwards of half a million dollars. The city also requires that Water World be worked into the design of the new school facility.
“Monies provided by the government for new schools normally do not include a budget for land or demolition expenses,” said Bortolin. “In this case, the land was circumvented because we gave it to them [WESCB] for a dollar. I can’t see it being ready for the 2018 school year and I would say it’s optimistic to be open for the 2019 school year.”
The city and school board will announce updated plans over the coming months.