SCUGOG: The Durham District School Board and Scugog township are exploring the idea of turning Cartwright High School into a seniors complex.
The suggestion was floated at a meeting of the housing advisory committee in June by Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten. The proposal would see housing units built around the back of the school, with the original building being used as a social centre.
“Blackstock has one of the highest senior populations in the region and there is not a lot of places for them to go,” Councillor Wotten said.
Following the meeting, members of the township, the Durham District School Board as well as a possible developer took a tour of the old school to see if it could be turned into a seniors building. However, Councillor Wotten added the idea was merely a suggestion.
“We haven’t gotten into complications yet,” she said. “The school is very cut up, it’s three or four levels, so accessibility may be an issue.”
The township’s chief building official has been asked to come up with potential barriers to the idea. The school board must also declare the property surplus before any commitments can be made. Once the school is put up for sale, it will first be offered to the township, the province and any other interested school boards.
Durham District School board trustee Carolyn Morton said she is open to the idea, but has one concern.
“I definitely know that Scugog needs to have more places for seniors, but one concern I have is accessibility,” she said.
The building has sat vacant since it was closed by the school board in 2013. The township is hoping to have the century old building named a site of cultural heritage value under the Ontario Heritage Act.
“It was built in 1925 and has been a part of the town for that amount of time. It is part of the culture and history of Blackstock,” said Councillor Wotten.
However, the Durham District school board opposes the designation, mainly because of recent changes made to part of the building due to recent fire damage, Trustee Morton told The Standard. She also added that a heritage designation would come with a price.
“If it is declared a heritage site there will be a cost to maintain it and that cost will be borne on the shoulders of taxpayers."
Trustee Morton wants to hear ideas from residents in the community about possible uses for the high school. She can be contacted by phone at 905-986-5525 or by email at email@example.com.