Trustees are not opposed to having a new HDSB administration centre built - but they don't agree on where it should be located.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 22, 2018


In an earlier version of this news story we said that Milton trustee Kim Graves had complained about the distance she had to drive to get to school board meetings.  It was trustee Anne Harvey Hope who made the comment – the two women sit beside each other at board meetings.  In the same article we said “… they were a little queasy about having this matter on the table…”.  It would have been more correct to say that some were queasy.  The Gazette regrets these errors.

Most of the trustees said last night that the Halton District School Board needed a new Administrative Building – but they didn’t want to see it located in Burlington.

There are 11 school board trustees – four represent Burlington; four represent Oakville and two represent Milton. One represents Halton Hills.

Kelly Amos

Need the building said Kelly Amos – but it shouldn’t be in Burlington.

Anne Harvey Hope

Driving to Burlington for 6 pm meetings is terrible – but we do need a new administration centre – Trustee Harvey-Hope

Oakville trustee Ann Harvey Hope said it was a “nightmare” to get to Board meetings from the east side of Oakville. Two of the 11 trustees were not in physical attendance – they took part on-line.

None of the trustees were opposed to the idea of putting up a new structure – some were a little queasy about having this matter on the table less than a year after closing two of the city’s seven high schools.

Director of Education Stuart Miller was adamant in saying that there was no link between the closing of the two high schools and the need to build a new building for administrators.

And he said, for the umpteenth time, that funds gained from the sale of a school property could not be used to build an administrative centre.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

Trustee Leah Reynolds, centre wanted the dust on school closings to settle before a new administrative Centre decision was made. Trustee Collard, on the right wanted any decision deferred. Trustee Grey, on the left represents Halton Hills – she made her comments by a telecommunications link.

Ward 1 and 2 Burlington trustee Leah Reynolds said making a decision now would be “ill timed” and that the Board should “wait for the dust to settle”.

Amy Collard, Burlington ward 5 trustee wanted to see a decision on a new building deferred but couldn’t find a seconder for her motion.

Why now was the question Reynolds had. Miller explained that this is an issue that has been in the talking stage for years – the building was defined as inadequate in 2005.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller

He added that the Board offices have to be AODA compliant by 2025 and that it would cost millions to bring the Singleton centre up to AODA standards.

He estimated that there would be a savings of $8 to $12 million if the Board approved the decision to proceed with the construction of a new build on land that they already owned.

The trustees agreed that a new building was needed – they just didn’t want it to be in Burlington. The problem was that land was very expensive and there really wasn’t much that was available.

The Board did have talks with the Region about using some of the land on Bronte Road north of the QEW – those talks went nowhere.

Miller is thinking in terms of the location having  a cafeteria, maybe a day care and he is open to the idea of renting space to organizations that are aligned to the values of public education.

Pickets during the first admin bldg

Protesting the $1 million expansion of the Halton Board of Education administration centre more than 20 years ago – four parents picket the centre; in Burlington; yesterday. They are Bill Johnson of Milton; defeated New Democratic Party candidate in Halton-Burlington; Betty Fisher and Christine Louth of Halton Hills; and Lillian Kilpatrick of Oakville.

The real estate consultant they hired advised that the amount of land they needed was scarce.

Miller sees the Board facing a very difficult and expensive problem. He needs a building that is AODA compliant. The building he has does not have the space he needs. He has property yards away from where the existing building is located.

His trustees are not going to help him out of this one.

The matter comes back to the Board April 4th.

Related new storey.

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6 comments to Trustees are not opposed to having a new HDSB administration centre built – but they don’t agree on where it should be located.

  • Jaan

    Trustees knew where the Board office is located, so why did they run for the position if it was too far to travel. MAYBE, if they reduced the numbers of staff (assistants to assistants) they would have room.
    When you are closing schools and displacing students, they have to make due with the existing facility.

  • Sharon

    Well said, Stephen White!!

    My question is: Why was this not brought up during the PARC? Robert Bateman and Pearson could have had parts of the schools decommisioned for our “Administrators”. They could have held their Board meetings at Bateman close to Oakville and easily accessible to Milton.
    And Robert Bateman is AODA compliant.
    Last thought: If portables are good enough for our students they are good enough for our “Administrators”. Put them on your empty land, Mr. Miller. Save thousands!!
    By the way, has everyone heard that MM Robinson needs a new roof? Apparently, it leaks in several places.

  • Jill

    Isn’t the building attached to the MM School which would mean it is also NOT AODA Compliant. The building they’re sending the Pearson kids to?!!!!

    Editor’s note: The Administration Centre is not attached to the high school.

  • Stephen White

    First, AODA legislation was first passed in 2005. The HDSB, like every other private and public sector employer in this province that is provincially regulated, has known about it since the Regulations were promulgated. The legislation has five different regulations that come into effect over a 20 year period. One deals with customer service, one deals with employment, one deals with transportation, one deals with information and communication, and one deals with facilities. Is the Board now telling us that they have waited till now before suddenly realizing they needed to do something to comply? Is their only strategy to attain full accessibility the building of a new facility? What preliminary plans have been undertaken to ensure the facility is accessible?

    Second, the HDSB isn’t unique. Many organizations are having to make buildings accessible. Many simply don’t have the luxury of being able to build a new facility in order to become AODA compliant. They retrofit existing premises. Let’s see the documentation and evidence that it would be too costly.

    Third, why isn’t the option of leasing space considered viable? Property management firms are under the same legal obligations as employers to ensure their buildings are AODA compliant. Is leasing being explored, and if not, why not? If there are architectural revisions that need to be made to make the building suitable for persons with disabilities then negotiate that into the leasing arrangements. And I’ll ask this question again : why isn’t consideration being given to shifting a sizeable portion of the HDSB workforce to work from home? Please don’t tell us that it isn’t viable. The federal and provincial governments have been doing it for years.

    Finally, I’m not buying Stuart Miller’s business case to build a new facility, and I daresay a whole lot of voters in this Region aren’t either. And even if high school closures and a new administrative centre may not linked financially the optics of closing two high schools while building a larger facility for non-teaching staff does not reflect positively on this Board.

    As for the trustees from Oakville and Milton who have to travel to Burlington to attend meetings, well, they knew the responsibilities and commitments when they stood for election. If they don’t like the commute don’t stand for re-election.

    • Stu Parr

      Amen Mr. White, amen.

    • Allison

      Well said, Mr White. Especially re leased space. Also, I imagine there is a vast difference between what the Board actually NEEDS re AODA and capacity, and what the Director wants in terms of a new “dream home”. Given that there are much more significant student NEEDS not being met at the moment, the Board can darn well make do with leased accessible space wherever in the Region it is available and Mr Miller can do without his dream home until the students get theirs.