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April 16, 2015: Change is Growth; Broadview School Rebuild.

April 16, 2015: Change is Growth; Broadview School Rebuild.

By Jeanne Inch.

The recent decision by City Council to designate the oldest portion of Broadview Public School under the Ontario Heritage Act, raises two questions of interest to the community: what is the impact of preserving the 1927 portion on the construction of a new school; and what are the options for future use of the school building?

The so-called “tower” portion of Broadview was built in 1927 in the Collegiate Gothic Style popular in the early 20th century. The exterior meets all three of the Heritage Act criteria: design or physical value, historical or associative value, and contextual value.

Regarding the impact of the heritage designation, Erica Braunovan, School Trustee for Somerset and Kitchissippi, said there could be a two to three month delay in start of construction of the new two-storey school south of the current school. The school board has already submitted a revised site plan to City Hall.

Jeff Leiper, City Councillor for Kitchissippi, said he has been assured by City staff that “they can work nimbly to ensure timely approvals and stage the required approvals in such a fashion as to mitigate any risk of delay” in the planned opening of the new school in September 2016.

The heritage designation will have no impact on the design of the new school. The original site design had a parking lot planned where the Broadview tower is located on Broadview Avenue, but that parking lot was designed to be larger than required by City By-Laws, Ms. Braunovan said. All teachers will have parking spaces, even with the reduction of 10 to 12 parking spaces. There will also be some green space around the tower.

Regarding the future of the Broadview tower, Ms. Braunovan said that the school board is open to ideas from the community. She cited the Provincial Government’s commitment to creating “community hubs,” including re-purposing vacant school buildings.

Given the building’s solid construction and its valuable location, there seem to be no end of possibilities for potential use.

In theory, it is the School Board’s responsibility to consider next steps, said Mr Leiper. But he has heard interest in the formation of an ad-hoc group to explore, with the Ottawa-Carleton School Board, the City, and other interested stakeholders, how the space might be used. “Members of the community have asked about its use as a community space, day care, private teaching facility, or an arts space. With creativity, it might even work as housing, “ said Mr. Leiper. “Of course,” he said, “we need to be sensitive: parking will be limited, it’s in a residential area and the security of students on either side may preclude some uses.”

David Jeanes, a long-time resident of the neighbourhood and vice-president of Heritage Ottawa, sees the Broadview school as a potential community centre, given that Dovercourt Recreational Centre is filled to capacity and there is a lack of a community centre for the western part of Kitchissippi and the eastern part of Bay Ward.

The three-storey building is solidly built, has the mechanics in place for heat, water and electricity, and could be made accessible.

There are 10 large rooms, and washrooms for 300. Facing Broadview Ave, one of only two through streets in the neighbourhood, the building is close to three bus routes and is in the heart of a walkable neighbourhood.

The rooms could be rented for a range of activities, including meetings, yoga and dance classes, and musical rehearsals. The teachers’ parking lot would be empty in the evening.

A repurposed school would benefit the community and not just education, and would be in line with the Community Hub Program, said Mr. Jeanes.

And there is time to decide: the Broadview tower will be in use as a school until the fall of 2016, and could be secured and mothballed if no use is found for it before it is vacated.

2-storey facade

Collegiate Gothic Style

Photo Caption: Much needed change is coming to Broadview School, including suggestions for re-purposing the Heritage designated main building. Photo by Tim Thibeault.

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