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Almost no members of the public attended Upper Grand District School Board public consultation

Less than five people showed up for the UGDSB’s public consultation on Monday
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Linda Busittil, Chairperson of the Upper Grand DIstrict School Board, stands beside a conceptual drawing for a new south end high school in this GuelphToday file photo

Only a handful of people attended the Upper Grand District School Board’s public consultation in person Monday evening, but members of the public and other stakeholders can still contribute to the Board’s Long Term Accommodation Plan using its online survey.

UGDSB is currently in the process of developing its Long Term Accommodation Plan, which is intended to ensure school facilities are aligned with the future needs of the Board and the communities they serve.

So far, a background report has been produced, providing information about population, enrolment trends, school utilization and other resources.

During the month of February, UGDSB is holding a total of five public consultations at schools within its boundaries to present the background report.

On Monday, UGDSB held the second such consultations — the only one to be held in Guelph — at Centennial CVI.

Fewer than five people attended.

Looking at utilization of local elementary schools, the background report has separated Guelph into East Guelph, West Guelph, South Guelph and Guelph/Eramosa.

Considering five and 10-year trends, most of the 10 UGDSB elementary schools in South Guelph are forecast to be overcrowded.

The intention of the Long Term Accommodation Plan is not to plan new schools or change boundaries, though future decisions will be informed by the plan, said Jennifer Passy, manager of planning for UGDSB..

“Many of the schools that we have identified that may have existing pressures will already be dealing with accommodation through the use of portables,” said Passy.

The background report forecasts that most secondary schools in Guelph will be at or over capacity in the five and 10-year time frames.

In September, UGDSB applied to the province for a new secondary school in South Guelph with a capacity of 1,200 students.

Currently, Guelph has our secondary schools, supporting about 5,500 students.

Last month, the province announced $25 million in funding to build a high school in South Guelph with a capacity to support 900 students.

The new secondary school will be located on an 18-acre parcel of land at the northwest corner of Arkell Road and Victoria Road.

The challenge, said UGDSB chair Linda Busuttil, will be to build the new secondary school in such a way that it can eventually be expanded to accommodate more than the initial 900 students.

“Because obviously there is going to be more growth in that area,” said Busuttil.

The new secondary school will take three to five years to build, said Passy.

“It takes about a year and a half to design and a year and a half to build, so realistically we are a fair distance off to having the doors open on the new facility,” said Passy.

UGDSB has a naming policy for new schools which will eventually include public consultation, said Passy.

Unlike Monday's event, Busuttil said the first public consultation in Orangeville was well attended.

“This is disappointing, but there will be other opportunities,” Busuttil said of the mostly empty Centennial CVI cafeteria on Monday.

As public consultations continue elsewhere in the district, members of the public and stakeholders in Guelph interested in contributing to the Long Term Accommodation Plan can take an online survey offered by UGDSB.