Burlington Downtown Business Association goes on record – keep Central high school open.

Comment 100By Brian Dean, Executive Director
Burlington Downtown Business Association
February 22, 2017


The Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) is a not-for-profit, incorporated organization that represents the interests of its business membership in the downtown core of Burlington. We undertake multiple roles including event management, communications, marketing and advocacy on behalf of the 435 business and commercial property owners in the downtown.

Parking MMW + Brian Dean with head of meter

BDBA Executive Director Brian Dean – is that parking meter on his desk as a keepsake?

We are interested in all issues that affect the present and future health of our unique community of small businesses.

In January 2017 our Board of Directors met with two representatives from The Halton District School Board at our request. Mr. Stuart Miller, Director of Education and Mr. Dom Renzella, General Manager of Planning attended to brief our Directors with a presentation entitled “Program and Accommodation Review Burlington Secondary Schools”.

Central High school

The Downtown Business association calls Central high school a venerable institution.

The representatives shared the fact that two of the five conditions have been met to trigger a Burlington Secondary PAR. Further that the present recommendation includes the closure of Burlington Central High School, and, that a Program and Accommodation Review Committee had been struck. We understand that this PARC is actively reviewing information and garnering feedback from the broader community.

The Burlington Downtown Business Association would like to be considered a community partner to this consultation.

Of the high schools in the City of Burlington none is more venerable or as embedded within an established community of business as Central High School. The BDBA and its member businesses have developed a symbiotic relationship with the student body at Central High School over many decades.

The Downtown business community has a primary trade area, within a two kilometer radius, of approximately 24,497 people. Bounded by a stable residential neighbourhood, our draw includes approximately 1,200 people in the age range 15-19 years. We have observed the value of the student economy to the continued health of several of our member businesses.

Local high school students are patrons of several businesses in the downtown core. In fact, we are aware of some entrepreneurs that have adapted their business models to accommodate the cycle of student schedules. Several businesses have elected to open in the downtown because of the proximity to the high school population which is a primary market for their business model.

Rays with Central sign

There is hardly a storefront on Brant Street that doesn’t have a Save Central sign in their window. More than 1200 of the signs have been distributed.

These same students provide reciprocal value to several downtown businesses as a ready source of labour. Given that Central High School students are generally in the school’s geographic catchment area they are a reliable source of employment for businesses that value a proximal, walk able labour force.

Our business community benefits from the rich group of student volunteers that are critical to the success of our events, arts and cultural programming and other animation. The BDBA in particular, as a chief event organizer has provided Central High School with countless opportunities to explore the forty hours of community service required per student each year.

Further, both public and private sector groups within our downtown have been advantaged by the co-op and intern programs offered to the wider community by Central High School. We value the opportunity to mentor young business leaders and students similarly gain invaluable experience by liaising with community leaders.

The downtown business community has developed an appreciation of the mutually rewarding relationship with our students and the student economy. Toward our goal of making the downtown a “complete neighbourhood” we believe that Central High School plays a key role in ensuring that we cater to patrons at all stages of life.

Evidence of this is the BDBA’s observation that a number of downtown business members have elected to post signs in support of the movement to keep the high school open. As a body that advocates for the best interests of our small business community, the BDBA feels compelled to acknowledge this groundswell of support.

In a broader context, the BDBA has concerns about the potential cultural and historical impact of folding such a storied institution. As a community building organization we value the fact that parents are the city’s primary work force and a key market demographic for many small businesses. Families with school aged children are an important part of the diverse economy downtown; this diverse economy fuels our city centre’s economic resilience. High schools in downtown cores remain powerful agents in creating social networks. It would be unfortunate for families of school aged children to relocate to other parts of the city as a result of a lack of quality schools in their neighbourhood.


How big will the hit to this Tim Hortons be if central high school is closed?

Central High School students and families benefit significantly because of their location within a downtown district. Concerted efforts by community builders to make the downtown safe and livable for young adults results in a higher standards of livability. The result is enhanced facilities like accessible parks and public areas, traffic-calmed streets, better public transportation and other amenities.

In the coming months the BDBA will be canvassing its membership to quantify the value of the student economy to their businesses. We will also endeavour to learn from our business members the value to the students of their high school being located in the downtown core, on the doorstep of 435 businesses as well a several public institutions (City Hall, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Art Gallery of Burlington, Museums of Burlington etc).

Benefits to students include enhanced opportunities for a wide range of co-op placements, work experience, and volunteer service – all within walking distance. The BDBA believes that there is neither this number nor variety of both public and private institutions available to students within walking distance of a high school anywhere else in Burlington.

The BDBA will be assembling survey feedback in anticipation of a revised statement for review by the Program and Accommodation Review Committee.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

19 comments to Burlington Downtown Business Association goes on record – keep Central high school open.

  • Tom Muir

    I just looked into this story and it’s distressing to see the negative reactions, and incredible nit-picking, to someone, representing an organization downtown, who states an opinion held by that organization.

    The downtown is a center of commerce and culture in Burlington. Someone closely acquainted with that needs to speak up.

    He is doing his job, so rather than complaining about it being biased, I ASK WHY IS NO ONE SPEAKING UP FOR, AND REPRESENTING, ALL THE SCHOOLS IN BURLINGTON TOGETHER?

    I observe that the Gazette’s pages are open to submissions from anyone, about any school. We have freedom of speech and a free press.

    Quit complaining about others who take advantage of these freedoms, and get in the boat and row for your school or better yet, for all of them.

    Central obviously just works a lot harder at their advocacy.

  • John

    Brian Dean

    My understanding of the BDBA’s purpose is to promote the Burlington downtown for it’s members and a destination for the city as a whole.

    The ill advised timing of this article regarding the BDBA and their views regarding students and schools, places this organization at the center of a program and accommodation review of our secondary schools.

    It’s understandable that some members of the BDBA would be effected if Central were to be closed however, as a business association, viewing schools and students as business assets is a very disturbing perspective.
    Business models, patron’s or labour source are not notion’s or terms that should be associated with students or their education.

    You and the association you represent have caused a controversy that has quickly spread and is becoming not only detrimental to a fair and equitable PAR process but, to the members you represent.

    Since your article appeared, I have heard and read several comments regarding the divisive tone of your comments and two groups speaking of a petition and boycott of the businesses within the BDBA jurisdiction.

    There is one complication that should be considered and corrected before it reaches the PARC and has a detrimental effect on the process. As you know councilor Meed Ward is the city representative for the BDBA and she is also a representative for Central on the PARC. That is a connection that has many considering her objectivity and ability to perform both roles in a fair and equitable manner.

    I urge you to correct, or at least clarify your position and help maintain the integrity of the PARC.

    If councilor Meed Ward was not aware of or disagrees with your positions, I’m shure she would want to make that clear to the PARC and the public at large.

    Editor’s note:
    The BDBA met with the Director of Education. not certain who asked for the meeting. The role of the BDBA is to advocate for heir citizens. Not sure where the or why this commentator gets wound up about Meed Ward’s involvement; she is the city liaison with the BDBA, has a son at the school. The parents association asked her to represent them on the PARC, she brought high profile to the task Our disappointment with Meed Ward is that she isn’t advocating as forcefully as she could. Take the high school out of the city and that community and the downtown core begins to die, Sort of like taking U of T and Ryerson out of Toronto.

    • John

      Editor’s note

      My post is directed to Brian Dean and BDBA, expressing my opinion regarding his article and informing him of some of the reaction I have heard and seen.

      Councilor Meed Ward is eligible under the board’s criteria to represent a school as a parent, I have acknowledged that many times.

      This letter has become toxic in many parts of the city, as I said I do not know if the councilor was aware of the letter or the contents prior to being published.

  • bonnie

    Thank you Will for sharing what many others are feeling.

    • Josie

      Bonnie, the BDB is simply stating their concern about loosing the only high school we have downtown Burlington! Their goal is to make downtown, which is where they operate, a “complete neighbourhood” and this is why they support Central High School. There are 435 businesses downtown; are we really surprised to see their association concerned about loosing Central? I would have been shocked to see them not taking this position! They are concerned about the future of our city and as a mother of a grade 10 student at Central, and as a citizen of the most divers community, I thank them and applaud them for taking the stand.

      Thank you for your support Brian Dean!!!

  • Will

    It’s a shame when an association that represents businesses in a city that everyone uses has taken this time to put politics before customers.Or perhaps the students as customers is the key here.I had someone raise the issue to me regarding taxes to pay for education about the quality of the product.If the product is a good education this shows only some students matter.My business will go elsewhere.

    • Lynn

      A healthy downtown matters to the whole city. It is short-sighted to not realize that. And a healthy downtown includes a high school.

      • Will

        It would be interesting to know if all of the businesses downtown believe the opinion of the BDBA.Totaly agree with a downtown mattering to the whole city which is why its hard to believe that businesses downtown only care about certain student business and not that of the whole city.like someone said in a post somewhere the downtown has the library, senior center, spencer smith, hospital and so on.We all use the area and give the area business.This tells me they don’t want my business any more.

  • Nancy

    Thank You BDBA for your support of this wonderful school. The highlighting of the Tim Horton’s closure impact is cherry picking 1 item out of an article that describes such a multitude of great career related opportunities to the students in a concentrated downtown area. For the sake of the students and the vast number of benefits provided to them by this concentrated business association, Central should not be closed.

    A long time resident of Burlington core and proud mom of a BCHS graduate.

  • Dania

    Thank you Brian Dean for your thoughtful and meaningful words. It has been proven over and over that taking a school out of a downtown core community negatively impacts the entire city. No one at Burlington Central, or almost anywhere else in Burlington, wants to see a school close. No matter what happens the impact will be felt by students, staff and families. This situation is a tough one to be in and creates such animosity, pitting communities against each other. The important thing to remember is that we must look at this through the lense of the students. We must push to find the best answer that negatively impacts the least amount of students and creates a better situation for students to learn and excel. We must keep a school in every community so that we avoid costly busing, permanent portables and a future of expensive and stressful boundary reviews to accommodate the changing number of students.

    Thank you to the Gazette for allowing stakeholders and concerned citizens to voice their personal opinions.

  • Sherri

    I’m sorry parents of non-Central students can’t see this articoe for what it’s worth. It great to see businesses stand up and support their Parton’s and staff, especially when they are teenagers. Maybe someone from each school should write and editorial and share it instead of pinning highschool against highschool. The real culprit is the HDSB and how they are planning to drop the ball on this important decision. We need all of our high schools, for a variety of reasons. Don’t let the HDSB drive a wedge between communities when THEY ARE TO BLAME FOR EVERY BIT OF THIS ISSUE.

  • Arlene

    Thank you BDBA for getting involved and speaking out.

  • Paul

    Excellent article by Brian Dean regarding this crucial issue. The balance of the comment comes from an email that cannot be confirmed. The IP address is telling.

  • bonnie

    Perhaps BDBA should look at the programs offered at Robert Bateman High School and then recognize the teaching space for many service related courses in a variety of technologies and culinary arts offered at that school.
    In my opinion this group will not gain support by representing one school to the exclusion of all others in the city.
    Caption reading ‘How big will the hit to this Tim Hortons be if Central High School is closed’. Fortunately this is not what school closures are based on but rather student needs.

    • Lynn

      The Burlington Downtown Business Association.

      That’s what they’re called. Hence, they are speaking up for the downtown.

      • Will

        I was sorry to read this. My family used to but no more shop downtown. Our bank and grocery store and pizza place.We saw a sign in the pizza place and didn’t feel welcome so we left.You have proved that only someone who lives there should be able to enjoy it.Its sad.I dont live downtown but thought it was for all and now Im sorry to say its not.

        • Kerri

          Please explain why a sign supporting Central High means that you are not welcome? It is a positive statement, supporting a high school. The sign does not mean that it supports closing other schools.

          • Will

            As neither my children or grandchildren have been Central students and the downtown association feels that Central students are more important to their economy then my business is not important so they wont get it.This is not about student learning.They go all over the place for coop.Its the businesses like the article says that want the student business. Mine is secondary so unnecessary.As a citizen of Burlington and a taxpayer that helped build the pier and such to have students at one school to have support of the business association dont give us taxpayers and customers the same value.I will say no more.My actions will speak.

  • Concerned mom

    I believe the Gazette is supposed to be a Burlington paper there are 6 other schools in this review. I see very little coverage on those schools. Your bias is showing