Councillor Sharman puts the Bateman High School development in perspective

By Paul Sharman, Councillor ward 5

June 4th, 2022


The following appeared in Local News – Burlington, an alternative online news source.  Reprinted with permission

Many people are extremely interested in what is happening with the acquisition of the former Robert Bateman High School (RBHS) by the City of Burlington.

In a nutshell, as they say, after a year of talks, property analysis, assessment, engineering analysis and negotiations, the acquisition is getting closer to completion. Here are the key steps taken by the city in the process to acquire RBHS, with two steps still to occur:

The former Bateman High School site. What will the city name the location once it acquires the property ?

Key steps completed

June 23, 2021: the Halton District School Board (HDSB) announced that it has declared Robert Bateman High School surplus to its needs.
June 24, 2021: the City of Burlington announced that an expression of interest would be submitted to the HDSB to purchase the Robert Bateman site through a partnership with Brock University.
December 2021: council provided direction to staff to submit a formal offer to purchase the Robert Bateman High School site, subject to price and details to be negotiated.
February 3, 2022: Burlington City Council endorsed next steps to advance the potential acquisition of the Robert Bateman High School site from the Halton District School Board.

Steps yet to come

June 21, 2022: city council will consider results of public input and then decide whether to proceed with the land exchange and long-term leases and will then authorize staff to complete all matters.

September 2022: The deal will be complete (if authorized to proceed) and funds transferred, at which time the land exchange price and other details will become public in accordance with provincial regulations and city policy. The parties are prohibited from disclosing price information until after completion.

What is going on
Halton District School Board (HDSB) voted to close the school in June 2017. I and a huge number of community members opposed that choice for several reasons. Those reasons remain extremely relevant to this day, but that is another article. After the decision was made, I and then-Mayor Goldring committed to seeing RBHS purchased by the city for community, recreation, and other uses.

On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, HDSB declared the Bateman property surplus to its needs. Since then, the school board has followed a prescribed process to negotiate the sale of the property. The City of Burlington had the right to purchase it if no other school organization wanted it. Because Burlington’s population has grown significantly over the last 20 years and is due to increase in the order of 70,000 more people in the next 30 years, more land and buildings are required for community recreation and other uses by the city. Accordingly, shortly after the property was declared surplus, the city voted to proceed with the acquisition of the property.

After a year of work, on June 21, 2022, city council will consider results of public input from a survey and a meeting held on May 31, and then decide whether to proceed with the land exchange and long-term leases of space to the HDSB and Brock University. Council will then authorize staff to complete all remaining matters. In September 2022, the deal will be complete and funds transferred, at which time the land exchange price and other details will be made public, following provincial regulations and city policy. Unfortunately, those details cannot be released earlier.

After that, a lot of activity will occur to obtain community input on how the property will be used. Partial details of use are discussed below, and they will evolve over time.

What Burlington is getting
When the HDSB declared invited offers to purchase from municipal government, they prescribed that only those that allowed the board to retain approximately 39,000 sq.ft. of space in the school under lease for a period of over 20 years would be accepted. Meanwhile, Brock University also wanted to lease a similar or larger amount of space as HDSB in order to offer programming in Burlington. The City of Burlington press release discussing the Brock partnership in June 2021 can be found here.

The RBHS building is so large (at 212,270 sq. ft.) that the space available for community and recreation use after deducting Brock and HDSB leased space from the total will be greater than any existing Burlington recreation centre.

Central High School land transfer
On May 18, 2022, the Halton District School Board issued a media release stating that they were

“…advancing a land transaction with the City of Burlington that would see the exchange of the City-owned sports field at Burlington Central High School (1433 Baldwin St, Burlington), with the sale of the former Robert Bateman High School ​(5151 New St, Burlington).”

“The parcel of land adjacent to Burlington Central High School is approximately five acres and includes the sports field and track to the west of the school. The Board’s purchase of this land ensures the continued operation of Burlington Central High School by the HDSB for the foreseeable future.”

This relates to the fact that the city already owns land at Central High School, Wellington Park on the west side, on the corner of Hager Ave., and on Baldwin Street, which features a sports field, outdoor track, and playground, and is integrated into daily school use. The school board has been interested in acquiring the property for a number of years. It makes no sense for the city to own land that the school is using, especially downtown where it is very valuable, and to then be buying land from the school board for the city to use elsewhere. Therefore, city ownership of land at Central High School will be transferred to the board with a value based on market prices. The dollar value of the property will be credited in favour of the city against the price of the Bateman purchase.

Brock, HDSB tenants and the Central High School land transfer all have the effect of making the acquisition of RBHS less of a burden for Burlington taxpayers. In the long run, when Brock and the HDSB leases expire, the city will decide how to use the entire building for community or other uses.

If Central is ever closed, then the board would have to declare it surplus and the city should be able to buy it back, if it wants.

City and recreation uses of the property
The primary goal of the city for the Bateman site is to satisfy community recreation needs, which will include: retention of Centennial swimming pool and school gym; public greenspace; new flexible programming areas (i.e. expanded city community centre); relocation of Burlington Public Library (BPL) – New Appleby Branch; and relocation of TechPlace. All of this is being done to create a sustainable signature community hub, with a focus on learning and active living.

Assuming final purchase of the Bateman property by the city concludes as expected, we will be able to offer recreation services to members of our community of all ages for decades to come. I am totally supportive of acquiring the property at a reasonable cost by the city, which I expect will happen.





Paul Sharman has been the Councillor for ward 5 since 2010

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10 comments to Councillor Sharman puts the Bateman High School development in perspective

  • Jeremy Skinner

    Mr. Bean. Your concern as to the status of the Gary Allan property is a HDSB matter.

    Please contact your ward HDSB school trustee should you not reside in Ward4 or Margo Suttleworth who represents Ward4 and who also happens to be the 2021 Chair of the Board of Trustees. Her email address is

    The HDSB property located at 3250 New St. currently serves at least two known purposes. 1. It hosts the Gary Allan Learning Centre for Burlington. 2. It hosts HDSB administration staff who can’t be accommodated at the HDSB HQ building located at 2050 Guelph Line due to the lack of suitable space there.

    Editor’s note: Your point. Other than giving us he addresses – there is nothing more. There should be more than passing interest in what the long term plans are for the GARY Allen location.

    The 3520 New Street HDSB property is not known to have been declared as surplus by HDSB and thus is not known to be for sale by HDSB.

    HDSB has requested that 30,000 square feet (including the technical shops) of Robert Bateman located at 5151 New St. on a 20 year lease basis. This is to permit the relocation of the Gary Allan Learning Centre for Burlington from it’s current 3520 New St. address to the 5151 New St. Bateman address.

  • Jim Barnett

    Until we have the numbers all the project does is lead to speculation and rumours. What are the other cost and revenues going forward for the next 10 years if the purchase is made. What is the business case? I don’t think trust me is enough when we are discussing multi- million dollar expenditures. What has happened to user pay?

    • Bob

      Burlington has thousands of kilometres of roads without a toll, libraries, parks, rainbow crosswalks, splash pads etc etc
      Not everything is user pay

  • “The parties are prohibited from disclosing price information until after completion.” is because of what reason? These are public funds and in the case of the city at least it compromises the public’s ability to debate the issues despite the Municipal Act requiring transparency. It is like saying the public can have input into using hydro reserves to purchase a wave break but Council refuses to tell citizens how much of the hydro reserves (that come from their pockets) that the city is going to use. The bill payers need to know the cost to them for there to be the required transparency or any meaningful public input.

    • Bob

      If you’re running in the municipal election, you should hone up on provincial and municipal law

    • Dave Turner

      For someone who is supposedly wanting to be Mayor of this City, and so who would have to abide by the law and regulations governing municipalities; and as someone who is forever quoting their credentials for knowing legislated requirements that must be followed and who calls out others for not doing so, you seem to be remarkably unaware of the Provincial requirements for the acquisition or disposal of land by a municipality. Mr Commiso at the virtual meeting, and now Councilor Sharman in his statement recorded here in the Gazette both tell us the Provincial procedure that must be adhered to does not permit the public disclosure of the financial aspects of such a transaction until the transaction is compete.

      So, remembering your support of Councilor Stolte breaking the confidentiality regulations, are you now saying, if elected as mayor you will pick and choose to follow only those laws, regulations, and procedures laid down by the Province with which you agree?

      If you have an issue with the specific procedures that must be followedby the City for municipal land acquisitions or disposals, go chat with Premier Doug.

      • Jim Thomson

        As far as I can tell by reading the Ontario Regulation 444/98 regarding disposal of school property, there is nothing that prohibits the disclosure of the financial aspects. The stipulation in the law is that the school board must get fair market value. The school board accepted the Citys’ offer made on February 3 on February 9th. The Minister of Education has agreed to the transaction.
        Since City and the school board have reached agreement on the sale, why is there a need to keep the details secret at this point?

        The Municipal Act allows a City to keep real estate transactions in camera. It doesn’t require it.

        So what are Councillor Sharman and Tim Commisso referring to when they say they can’t disclose the financial aspects until the transaction is complete?

        • Thank you Jim for shining a light on Regulation 444/98 which is the pertinent legislation in this case and, as you say Jim, has nothing in it that prohibits disclosure of financial aspects of Real Estate transactions. The following excerpt from the Municipal Act, which is the go to legislation in terms of Ombudsman’s complaints regarding in camera discussions on real estate transactions, does not, again as you say Jim, require real estate transactions to be held in camera, it simply permits them. The choice is up to the municipality and we would say after they have fairly and thoroughly considered the transparency requirements of the Municipal Act.

          “When a municipality is in the process of buying or selling municipal land, holding discussions about the land transaction in an open session could affect the municipality’s bargaining position or negotiation strategy. The purpose of the acquisition or disposition of land exception is to protect the municipality’s bargaining position by permitting discussions to be held in closed session about a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by a municipality.”

          We would say Mr. Commisso and Councillor Sharman owe the public an explanation for their positions at the zoom meeting and in Councillor Sharman’s article. Or an admission that they did not check out for themselves what they were told was the case. The Municipal Act does, however, require transparency, something that has apparently taken a leave of absence from Council discussions.

      • Thank you Dave for your answer to our question. The question mark at the end of that sentence showed we were throwing it out as a question. Such a legislative requirement as you describe we believe is diametrically opposed to the transparency requirements of the Municipal Act and not in the best interests of the bill payers. We have over the years addressed some legislative requirements while at one time were thought to serve a useful purpose need addressing. We must admit this is the first time we have heard of such a piece of legislation and would question why our Council members have not addressed such when it clearly is in opposition to the transparency requirements they must adhere to. It has certainly been added to our list of required legislative requirements.

        Before COVID we could address such matters face to face with the appropriate Ministers at a Convention. The last time we were able to do that was in 2018 and the attention on the pandemic has greatly reduced the effectiveness of our advocacy for change on some pieces of legislation that have outlived their usefulness and some of which is downright discriminatory but continues to remain in place. You will always find us supportive of measures that allow informed citizens to have their say in how the City spends their hard earned dollars and we will not apologise for that or for the questions we ask to determine why the information flow at city hall appears not to be in the best interests of the bill payers in terms of transparency.

  • Mr Bean

    Any idea what will happen to Gary Allan school?