A deal has been done for the purchase of the Bateman HighSchool Site - now the questions

By Pepper Parr

November 2nd, 2022



So – there is a deal.

For reason that are not clear at this point the information was posted on the Get Involved portion of the city web site – where you could stumble upon it.

We will come back to that.

The city has signed a deal with the Halton District School Board to purchase the Bateman High School site.

The Bateman site is now owned by the city. What will it be named?

The transaction with the HDSB would see the City transfer ownership of approximately five acres of City owned land to the HDSB as a component of a land exchange for the Robert Bateman site. The City owned land in question is located near Central High School and includes the high school football field and running track.

The City has completed a purchase agreement and land exchange transaction with the Halton District School Board (HDSB) involving the Robert Bateman High School property. In the agreement, the City purchased the Bateman property for $29.6 million, while the HDSB purchased a City owned property near Burlington Central High School, which includes the high school football field and running track, for $21.7 million. The difference in price of $7.9 million will be debt financed, with annual debt payments recovered from the City’s capital reserve funds.

Both leases at Bateman are expected to be long term leases not to exceed 25 years.

This acquisition would push forward key objectives laid out in the City of Burlington’s 25-year strategic plan. Key pillars of this Plan include making Burlington a City that grows through attracting talent, good jobs and economic opportunity to the community.

Within the Bateman space, the HDSB will retain a long-term interest at the school to accommodate the Gary Allan Learning Centre. And as previously announced, Brock University will offer their Teachers Education and Applied Disabilities Studies Programs and will be developing professional and continuing studies specifically to the needs of Burlington.

In addition to the partnership with the HDSB and Brock University, the City has partnered with other institutions, ensuring that there is an adaptive reuse strategy for the Bateman site and to create a sustainable community hub which will include community rooms, a triple gym and the existing City pool.

The Burlington Public Library will relocate its Appleby Line branch to this location to develop a place for learning and education.

TechPlace will be located to the site.

How far beyond the concept has the thinking gone?

The city is now looking for residents’ feedback on a proposed land transaction with the Halton District School Board (HDSB) and leasing arrangements with the HDSB and Brock University for the City’s planned acquisition of the Robert Bateman High School building and property.

Public engagement will take place in early 2023 to seek community feedback on possible uses for the remaining space.

Feedback will also be sought on securing leases with the HDSB and Brock University for portions of the Bateman Site. The HDSB intends on leasing space back at Bateman for educational purposes. Brock University also seeks to lease space at Bateman for their long-term educational needs.

The Halton District School Board said in a media release that:  “Securing the lands near Central High School in HDSB ownership has been consistent with the HDSB’s long term intention to continue operating Central as a school. This land exchange component will advance the City’s efforts to secure the Robert Bateman site in continued public ownership, ensuring that the Robert Bateman site is available for continued educational and community-oriented us

Back to the way the information was released to the public.  Normally the city issues a media release and within hours the Mayor has a Statement lauding the decision that was made.

Recall that the decision to purchase the site was to be made public on September 30th.  Why the delay to today?  Because it might become an election issue?

There are some questions:

How much of the gymnasiums and the swimming pool time will be made available to the Brock University students?

Are the sports/recreational facilities going to be operated by the Parks, Recreation and Culture department?

Where did the $50 million price tag that Councillor Stolte revealed come from?  The media release states that the difference after the land swaps is $7.9 million.   Did Stolte just make up the $50 million number.  Highly unlikely.

Which of the city’s capital reserve funds is going to be raided to get the $7.9 million.  All we know is that taxpayers will replace the money.

And why was the news announced on the Get Involved portion of the city web site.

Now that the properties have changed hands – when do the renovations start – will the work be done in time to get the  Brock University students in classrooms on the planned schedule.  And by the way – what is that schedule?

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8 comments to A deal has been done for the purchase of the Bateman High School Site – now the questions

  • Guy D'Alesio

    “Public engagement will take place in early 2023 to seek community feedback on possible uses for the remaining space.”

    Why not get community feedback prior to allocating space? Why are community needs the afterthought? If they are going to sign long term leases, then they need to ensure the process demonstrates long term vision.

  • Hans Jacobs

    Re: “Where did the $50 million price tag that Councillor Stolte revealed come from?” – maybe someone could ask her?

    Editor’s note: Don’t expect Stolte to even use the number $50 million.
    The members of this council do not take calls or answer questions from media.

  • Cathy

    Earlier in the year, the integrity commissioner ruled Councillor Stolte’s confidentiality breach of the Bateman purchase included incorrect information, which was misleading to the public.

    This announcement confirms what the integrity commissioner told us. The Gazette and some others took what she said at face value, without verifying her $50m claim.

    Editor’s note. The Gazette wanted to be sure what Stolte said and in conversation asked: Did you say 50 million? Her response was yes.

    • Mary Hill

      And if she had said $100 million would the Gazette have taken that as gospel.

      In my opinion too often statements are taken and published without first obtaining corroboration.

      Editor’s note: Mary, Mary, MarY – give it a break.
      We got the number directly from the horses mouth – is that not collaboration enough for you. And yes, if she had said $100 million we would have published it because that is what she said.

      As for a council member’s word being Gospel – not something I can comment on.

      • Mary Hill

        Corroboration not Collaboration. Probably an incorrect spellchecker correction, I know. But shouldn’t journalists get corroboration from another source. That 8s mandatory for journalists at The Alaska Daily. If you don’t how do you know any thing you print from a source to be bona fide?

        Editor’s note: Will you let this go. If the comment came from the person what is there to corroborate. What would you want in the way of another source – her cat.

  • The secrecy around this before and after the election reminds us of the 2014 election and the secrecy around the September 8, 2014 request of the Downtown BIA to expand and the intention of the city to repeal the bylaw and deposit the assets of the BIA belonging to its members into city coffers. We will be requesting access to the Downtown membership list through Lisa Kearns the newly re-elected representative of Downtown to bring this very serious lack of transparency issue that involves multiple past and present Council members and staff and millions of Downtown businesses dollars to their attention.

  • Penny Hersh

    “Public engagement will take place in early 2023 to seek community feedback on possible uses for the remaining space.”

    Does anyone know how much remaining space will be available to rent?

    We have been told (in virtual council meetings) that this will be a 3 phase redevelopment. However, no indication of what will be taking place in these phases and also the timeframe involved in completing the project.

    With regard to sufficient parking we were told ( again in a virtual meeting) that enough parking exists for Phase 1. What happens when Phase 2, and Phase 3 are completed?

    It would be nice to know who will have access to the 3 gyms, community rooms and the swimming pool? Will these areas be shared with the public? If so when would the public have access to these facilities?

    So many questions, so few answers.

    • Mary Hill

      I believe I’m right in saying that the announcement made was that and agreement of purchase and sale has been arrived at, not that the transaction has closed. So MD Hersh you are probably getting a bit ahead of yourself. Consider it like buying a house. You’ve visited the house maybe 2 or 3 times so you have an idea of what you’d like to do when you get possession. But you cannot really move forward to generate firm plans until you take possession. I’m sure more details will be forthcoming in time.

      Editor’s note. There do not appear to be any more details. The city is being quite coy on this. The Board of Education has said they are renting to Brock – they make no mention of a sale having been closed.

      There is something fishy with this whole deal.