Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Catholic board targets Rapids Parkway for approved elementary school

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Construction could begin next spring on a new $17-million Catholic elementary school in Sarnia, if all goes to plan.

The St. Clair Catholic District School Board has made an offer to purchase eight acres (3.2 hectares) on the southeast side of the Rapids Parkway for a new French Immersion school, says Associate Director Amy Janssens.

“We see the benefit to being nearby two of our other schools, St. Anne and St. Pat’s,” she said. “And we also want to be close to Gregory Hogan.”

Gregory A. Hogan elementary, a six-minute drive away, is home to the board’s French Immersion students, but bursting at the seams.

Numerous portables are needed to accommodate 573 FI students there, and the board is anxious to get them into “bricks and mortar,” said Janssens.

The plan is to transfer Gregory Hogan’s population to the new school, then move the 336 students at Sacred Heart elementary to Gregory Hogan once renovations are complete.

Sacred Heart is an older school built in 1948 on three acres along Lecaron Avenue. When the board decided in 2018 to close Sacred Heart, rebuilding there was ruled out because it’s too small, said Janssens.

The new school will be designed for 659 students from JK to Grade 8, along with a five-room day-care centre operated by Lambton County.

Finding vacant property north of Highway 402 large enough for a new school has been difficult, said Education Director Deb Crawford.

“It’s been a real ordeal,” she said. “We have been focused on finding a location since 2018 and we’re very hopeful we’ll get this property.”

The board’s offer to landowner Silvestri Developments is conditional on Education Ministry funding. Silvestri has been building homes in the Rapids Parkway area for a decade.

The ministry has approved money for the school and daycare, but not to buy the land.

Janssens said she anticipates ministry approval by September, followed by an architect hiring to begin design work this fall.

“We are hopeful we can have a shovel in the ground by spring and the new school open in the fall of 2022,” she said.

The Catholic board hasn’t built a new school in Sarnia since St. Matthew and Holy Trinity schools opened in 2010.

“We’re excited for this community to have a beautiful, new education facility,” said Crawford.

A virtual public meeting is scheduled for Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. as part of the process to amend Sarnia’s Official Plan and zoning bylaw to allow construction of the school on the southeast side of the Parkway, across from St. Francois Xavier Secondary School.

For details, visit www.speakupsarnia and click on Active Planning Applications. To join the meeting, visit Comments about the proposed school can be emailed to [email protected].

More like this