The Carlington Summit
by Richard Patten.
MPP.
Ottawa Centre.

FIGHTING TO PRESERVE DOWNTOWN SCHOOLS

On Monday September 25th the Legislative Assembly of Ontario resumed sitting. I am once again in Toronto representing you, at Queen's Park. As we begin this fall session, I thought I would take this opportunity to inform you about what is happening.

As you may be aware, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is planning on closing nine of our downtown schools. Despite the problems facing the school board and its members, I do not believe that closing these schools is the answer to any of them. There are several very good reasons for not closing all of these schools. It is imperative that the decision be halted to allow us to obtain the most recent demographic information, which may lead to alternative options.

PRIVATE MEMBER'S BILL TO SAVE OUR SCHOOLS

In the upcoming weeks at Queen's Park, I will be putting forward a Private Member's Bill on this very important topic. The bill will focus on a few key areas, one being an increase in the flexibility for the definition of school space. As it stands, the ministry formula for class utilization does not leave any room for alternative arrangements, or demographic fluctuation. A study is currently being carried out reevaluating the demographics in the Ottawa region and I feel it must be looked at before making this major decision. A second component of my bill will deal with the legitimate space usage standards, which need to be reexamined in order to accurately reflect the needs of today's schools. Other key areas in the bill look at issues such as community impact, and the hollowing out of the downtown core; efficient school space management; and possible alternate uses of schools by community groups in order to achieve full potential of these buildings.

I look forward to presenting to parliament this bill on behalf of the school boards in the Ottawa area, the people and city of Ottawa, and other Ontarians who may have experienced similar difficulty with the guidelines.