Following some criticism over lack of details regarding the city’s plan to purchase the former Robert Bateman School, a public information session was held virtually May 31 to answer some of the public’s questions. More than 80 residents took part in the meeting, and the takeaway on the financial side was there won’t be financial details available to the public until after the deal is signed, sometime in September.
While the exact financial details are not known, a list of questions and answers provided by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward says the $50 million figure that was released by Ward Four councillor Shawna Stolte “does not reflect the actual dollar figure.” It was the release of that figure that resulted in Stolte being censured by the Integrity Commissioner for releasing information that was discussed in camera, and her subsequent decision not to seek re-election. She criticized council for excessive secrecy.
Part of the Bateman Deal involved the city turning over the city-owned Wellington Park adjacent to Burlington Central High School that has served as the school’s athletic field, One of the questions from the public wondered if the land swap would reduce the city’s cost for the Bateman School to zero. The answer to that was no. “The land exchange would lower the overall cost by reducing the net purchase price.” The city says turning over the sports field to the Halton School Board will help ensure that Burlington Central High School will remain in the city core.
The city will lease 15 to 20 percent of the space at Bateman to Brock University and establish a community hub at the site. There is asbestos in the site which will have to be removed.