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Farewell ceremony suggested for old secondary school prior to demolition, says Penetanguishene CAO

Motion carried to slate 51 Dunlop Street building for demolition and asbestos abatement, as council looks to site’s future
The Town of Penetanguishene bought the Penetanguishene Secondary School property, located on 51 Dunlop St., last year.

One last celebration for many North Simcoe residents’ high school memories could take shape in the coming months.

During a special council meeting, Penetanguishene town council formally passed the motion recommending demolition and asbestos abatement for 51 Dunlop Street, formerly the Penetanguishene Secondary School.

Final comments were given to the staff as they made their decision, with CAO Jeff Lees bringing a recently-conceptualized farewell gesture to council’s mind.

“One thing that has come to light in the last short while is with respect to the timing of the closing of the purchase,” said Lees.

Realizing the potential benefit to advancing the closing date of the property sale from Sept 30 to July 30, provided both the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) and council agree, “staff have started to explore the potential of doing some sort of historical film presentation and/or a goodbye opportunity for the public.”

Council was presented with three options for the building leading up to the night’s decision, with the other two being the continued use of the building or the outright sale of the building. Neither alternative was recommended by the finance and corporate services committee due to reasons of cost, sustainability, and liability.

Coun. George Vadeboncoeur saw the logic in demolishing the sentimental structure, but looked forward to the property’s future.

“When I read the building conditions reports and the background reports on the status of the roof and whatnot, I was very much dismayed at the condition of the building," Vadeboncoeur said.

"Certainly as you drive by on Dunlop Street, the facade looks really good; I know they spent some money on renovations; but that facade is very deceiving because as it’s been pointed out, the building condition is such that it would cost the municipality a substantial amount of money -- millions of dollars -- to maintain the building going forward,”

Further engagement with the community through social media allowed Coun. Jessica Klug the opportunity to reach a consensus with local residents.

“What I saw was general support for the demolition,” Klug revealed. “Given the costs, everyone has read that keeping the building intact and safe is cost-prohibitive. However, many people have expressed concerns about another subdivision or a condo development, when what we really need is affordable and attainable housing.”

Derek Howard

About the Author: Derek Howard

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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