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Catholic board moving closer to a new site for school in Breslau

A location has been tentatively set for a new Catholic school in Breslau’s south end, part of the Riverland subdivision. The site, at the intersection of Trowbridge Street and Starlight Avenue, would place the school just a short distance from the community centre and in the center of a growing suburb.

“That’s where we are right now, negotiating with the developer for that piece of land,” said Shesh Maharaj, chief financial officer for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. “We’ve already identified where we want to have it, and so we’re very close to being able to buy that from them.”

If agreed to by the developer, Empire Communities, construction on the new school is planned to begin this fall, with the building itself expected to be completed for the September 2019 school year.

The new elementary school in Breslau is intended to replace the St. Boniface Catholic school in Maryhill, which will be closed and sold off once the Breslau location opens.

“We will be bringing St. Boniface to the new location,” said Marylin Dawson, principal of St. Boniface. “So it’s not like we’re closing St. Boniface and opening a new school, because I think that that can change dynamic. But what we’re really trying to do is bring our school, bring our culture, bring our enthusiasm, just to a new location.”

Currently, students living in Breslau enrolled in the Catholic system have to bus to the St. Boniface for school.

“Right now, most of our students are bussed in, just given our location. In Breslau, I think we’ll reduce the amount of students being bussed to this location and then the kids who live here in Maryhill, we’ll bus them the other way,” said Dawson.

The school board is looking to replace St. Boniface Catholic school in Maryhill with a new building in Breslau, perhaps as soon as 2019. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]
“It is creating some issues,” noted Maharaj. “What you’ll find is that people have a tendency to look to where the school is in terms of what’s closest. So we have a lot of people that otherwise would send their kids to a Catholic school, they’re going to a public school just because it’s really close: they can see it, they can walk over to the school, which is great.

“But if we have the school [in Breslau], we’re going to attract the people that normally would come to a Catholic school. So I think the enrolment is going to go right up as soon as we build that school there.”

The new location will have a capacity of 250 students from JK to Grade 8. That’s an increase beyond the current number enrolled at St. Boniface, approximately 147. Maharaj, however, said that with the current demand in Breslau, and the housing projects in the works, the new location was forecasted quickly exceed capacity, eventually requiring the addition of portables.

The Catholic school would also be the site of an EarlyON family centre and an 88-space child care centre, for which it had received additional funding from the government to build. The estimated cost for the school, together with the child centres, is approximately $8 million.

The location of the Catholic school was the subject of some controversy for Breslau residents when the school board initially proposed purchasing a section of Breslau Memorial Park. The proposal was met with opposition from the public, who wanted to keep the parkland intact, and was eventually rejected by township council.

Elsewhere in the community, the public board also has plans for a new school, one with space for 600 to 700 students to accommodate Breslau’s growing population. That building, earmarked for a spot in the Hopewell Heights subdivision, would eventually replace the existing Breslau Public School.

The plan is still in its early stages, said a spokesperson for the public school board, and the board had yet to receive funding for the project, which would cost approximately $16 million. The proposed new facility likely wouldn’t open its doors until roughly 2022 or 2023, depending on when funding becomes available.

Growth is a constant in the community. Empire Communities plans to build some 530 units – a mix of single-detached houses and townhomes – on a 77-acre parcel to the west of its existing Riverland subdivision. The development would be home to an anticipated 1,636 people, with employment land in the mix adding another 76 employees. The plan also includes three parks and space for a new elementary school.

Thomasfield Homes’ latest bid for its eastside lands would bring 2,200 new residents and 2,800 jobs to the area. Proposed is a combination of residential (single-family, semis, townhouses and apartment buildings), commercial space, offices, retail stores, industrial uses, schools, open space, trails and wetlands extending over more than 335 acres east of the company’s current development, the Hopewell Heights subdivision.

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