If it had maintained its original timeline, the combined elementary school and community centre approved in 2018 on Horseshoe Valley Road would now be open and alive with the hustle and bustle of children and adults alike.
At the beginning of September this year, Oro-Medonte Township officials said the Ministry of Education would be making an announcement on Sept. 15 to update the community on the project’s status. The property is located at 739 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W., north of Barrie.
Sept. 15 came and went with no word from the ministry.
Now, according to the ministry’s website, the announcement will be made Sept. 23.
“We are hopeful the announcement is made on the 23rd as everyone is very anxious to get this project moving forward.” said Orillia/Ramara/Severn Trustee Jodi Lloyd, chair of the Simcoe County District School Board. “But that is dependent on the ministry.”
While Lloyd is hoping for a "best-case" scenario on Sept. 23, she cautioned the update may not happen as planned.
She may be correct.
Officials at both the Simcoe County District School Board and the Township of Oro-Medonte have now been advised the announcement is embargoed by the Ministry of Education until at least the end of the month.
According to the public school board’s website, the Ministry of Education approved $9 million in funding for the project in 2018.
In November 2022, officials with Oro-Medonte township said the project was ready to go to tender, but they were waiting for the ministry to sign off.
At the time, township officials were hoping the ministry would provide a timely approval because the cost of infrastructure, and in particular as it relates to construction, had gone up significantly.
Oro-Medonte council approved $7 million for the project in February 2021.
The final cost for the project, which Lloyd said will be “significantly above the original estimate due to cost of construction and materials,” should be revealed at the upcoming announcement on Sept. 23.
The township originally purchased the land in 2013 in hopes of building a community centre on the site. In the years following the purchase, the township made it known to the board of education that it was interested in forming a partnership if the opportunity presented itself.
In 2017, they formalized an agreement, and in 2018 the Ministry of Education approved funding.
The school, which is expected to accommodate 357 pupils, would have three kindergarten classrooms, 11 regular classrooms, two resource rooms, a learning centre, a library and a full-size gymnasium, which is to be shared with the community centre.
The community centre portion of the facility will be approximately 14,500 square feet and include administrative space with self-service kiosks in the lobby area, a multi-purpose/program room, custodial areas and washrooms, and change rooms.
The design, including site and servicing plans, also includes provisions for a 11,150-sq.-ft. addition to potentially accommodate a multi-purpose area and fitness centre or space for other future township needs.