$50 million and we can put our name on it: Council votes to make an offer to purchase Bateman property

By Pepper Parr

December 6th, 2021



Fifty million – and not enough information in the hands of the public.

City Council agreed this afternoon to make a formal offer to purchase the Bateman High School property for $50 million.

Council agrees to make an Offer to purchase the Bateman site

Mayor Meed Ward said the site will become the biggest facility in the city –more than twice the size of Tansley Woods which is the largest at this point.

To the surprise of this reporter we learned that the pool is not owned by the city – Halton District School Board (HDSB) appears to be the owner.

It will be a shared space with plenty of space for community events

There are all kinds of details that are not known; the HDSB will retain some of the space, Brock University is in talks with the city to rent space, Tech Place is going to need an affordable place to operate and has eyes on the Bateman location and the Library might become a tenant as well.

Councillors Stolte and Kearns hold off on fully agreeing to the decision to purchase; they want much more information in the hands of the public.

Councillor Sharman put is quite clearly when he said this was not an agreement to purchase – this was an agreement to continue discussions with the vendor.

The task now he said “ is to figure out how to pay for it.”

The matter comes up again in March of next year.

At the Special meeting of City Council this afternoon two of the seven members of Council voted not to approve the decision to make a formal offer: Councillor Kearns and Stolte took a pass on putting their thumbprint on this one.

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13 comments to $50 million and we can put our name on it: Council votes to make an offer to purchase Bateman property

  • Alfred


    The question I asked is. Why is James’s idea not the better option? The numbers were spelled out for you. Clearly you can’t answer the question until more info. is provided. Please advise us your choice, as the better option when more info. is forthcoming.

    • Maggie Riley

      Even when more information is available, I’m not sure I or you have the expertise to make an informed decision.

      Maybe the “James” option is viable. I don’t know.

      What I do know is Council has way more expertise available to it, both on staff and via outside third parties, than you or I have.

      But my argument is not for or against the purchase or James’ suggestion. My argument is with the wave of negativity against this Council that flows from the usual suspects in this forum. Negativity no matter what is put forward by Council, be it the Holiday Market, or this potential purchase. Just always negative.

  • Alfred


    Quick note 150 units are permitted per hectare if additional parking is provided. That would be 750 total units x $ 550,000 selling price that equals $ 412,000,000. at todays prices the way prices are rising that could be even 30% higher.

    Maggie may I suggest to you that those people who volunteered to post on this site for free that you named and called out have vastly much more knowledge that most of your local Mayor and councilors when it comes to matters of development and construction.

    • Maggie

      So Alfred perhaps you can answer these questions then:-


      • are the anticipated rental income figures?

      • is the anticipated increase in business tax revenues?

      • is the anticipated usage fees to be generated?

      • what other plans does the City have for the acreage being purchased?

      If you don’t have the answers perhaps one of the others do. I would be amazed if anyone can do any sort of financial analysis based upon the insignificant amount of information contained in the Gazette article. From it we understand there is a purchase price potential of about $50 million and the names of some potential tenants. Do you have any more credible information on what the City’s plans might be?

  • Alfred

    Thomas and James.

    I think by combining both your ideas we can come up with a winner.

    Thomas remember Brock, the Library and Tech Place. are only looking to rent, not put up some of the $50 million plus retrofit up front. When and if they decide they don’t need the space anymore the City could be stuck with a $75 to $85 million dollar lemon.

    I didn’t vote for a council with little experience in these very serious matters, involving these massive amounts of money. To play monopoly with the citizens of Burlington tax dollars.

    Can anyone tell me why James’s idea isn’t the better option? Clearly the City would have to call in expert planners and financial experts and lawyers to verify this is a viable option and achieves the Cities objectives at no cost to the City while having an incredible injection of money in the form of tax dollars from the new development. The City can then charge the developers more money for additional airspace( more height). This could add up to millions for the City.

    They give it a nice name.

    They call it community benefits.

    • James

      12.5 acres = 5 hectares

      Medium density residential = 50 to 100 units per hectare

      5 hectares x 100 units = 500 residential units

      500 x let’s say $550,000 to be conservative = $275,000,000

      The cost of the land, planning, engineering, servicing, construction, etc. all come out of that but you get the picture. No need to bring in private developers, Burlington Development Corporation was created for exactly this type of thing, weren’t they? Time to put them to good use. The city would get properly designed modern community space, 500 new reasonably affordable residential units, and a nice profit to inject back into the City budget or reserves, not to mention the perpetual property taxes.


      They can spend $50 million to buy a dusty old school, spend another $15-$20 million retrofitting it, and end up with a building that provides no housing and from the outside looks no different than it does today.

      I hope someone over at City Hall recognizes the opportunity they have.

  • Thomas

    I highly suggest people look at other cities and see what they are paying for to build to a new community centre because $50million is not that high in comparison. Also consider that Brock University and any other partners will be paying into this amount.

  • James

    The existing building is a liability and not suitable for a cost-effective retrofit. It’s a money pit.
    Forget the building.

    $50 million divided by 12.5 acres = $4 million per acre. Great deal for the Halton District School Board as the seller, horrible deal for the City of Burlington. The only way anyone of sound mind would pay that kind of money is if there is redevelopment potential and profit to be made. Paying that much to keep what’s there plus however many millions more to retrofit the building is a bad investment and misuse of taxpayer money. If this City had any business sense whatsoever they’d be looking at buying (after negotiating a lower sale price) and redeveloping the entire site. Multiple 15+ storey highrise condos with community space, library, office space, etc. on the first few floors. There are three 12 storey towers right next door, so compatibility isn’t an issue. They’d get more community space, more housing, and in all likelihood $100 million profit or more in their pocket upon completion. They formed the Burlington Development Corporation a while back to do this sort of thing, is anyone awake over there? Shouldn’t they be the ones offering this advice, not me? There is money to be made and ways to keep our taxes lower, but it requires the powers that be at City Hall to start thinking and spending like a fiscally responsible business.

  • Richard

    our mayor is a good Liberal. no concern about cost or usefulness. but what a great photo op!

  • Bonnie

    Fifty million to purchase and I am sure many more millions to renovate. If this purchase was going to benefit the residents in the east end of the city, it might make sense, However, a large part of the building will be leased to Brock and other tenants with little benefit to the surrounding community members.

  • Penny Hersh

    I can’t be the only one shaking my head in wonderment. Our Mayor refuses to sign off on a budget that requires an increase of 4.95% to keep the level of service necessary for the city, but feels it is appropriate for the city to purchase the Robert Bateman High School for 50 million dollars. Will this project be self-supporting?

    Where do you think this money is going to come from? Remember the hospital levy that was supposed to end when the 60 million dollars was paid off as our portion for the new Joseph Brant Hospital ? Well it didn’t end it simply became a permanent infrastructure levy.

    The last thing we need is another “Performing Arts Centre” that comes back every year for over a million taxpayer dollars to keep it operating.

    • Maggie Riley

      Penny, Bonnie, James, Alfred, Richard all displaying their luddite mindsets and their immense expertise (sarcasm) in such matters as this. I guess they must have all at one time or another stayed at a Holiday Inn (reference to commercial)

      Reading this newspaper’s articles and then the comments offered by other readers makes me shake my head that there is so much immediate negativity to anything this Council considers or does.

      Of those named above do any of you have access to the anticipated rental income figures, the increase in business tax revenues, the anticipated usage fees to be generated, etc. I think none of you have the information to do a cost benefit analysis. Do you have the necessary expertise in this field. I think that unlikely.

      I suggest you defer voicing your expert opinions on this subject until you have more detailed information to hand. More information than just the headline banner of $50 million potential acquisition purchase cost.

  • Penny Hersh

    Once again there seems to be a disconnect between what the Mayor put on Facebook and what Councillor Sharman indicated.

    Below is my comment to the Mayor’s announcement on Facebook.

    There seems to be some confusion – Did the council vote to “proceed with an offer to purchase the former Robert Bateman HS site”, or as Councillor Sharman said “it is not an agreement to purchase this was an agreement to continue discussion with the vendor” – VERY DIFFERENT.

    Kudos to Councillor Stolte and Kearns for voting against this.