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Best of 2014: In Pursuit of Memorial Collegiate High School

The impending closure of KCVI and the fight to stop it have been hot topics in YGK for a couple of years now.  The discussion surrounding the closure of Ontario’s oldest public high school has been met with many opinions and varying ideas of what to do next.  While many support the idea of a brand new building designed to serve the area, there is an equal, if not greater amount of opposition to the closure of this historic building.  One contentious point of discussion arose when the Ministry of Education announced funding of $35 million to build a new school in Kingston.  Our readers had a lot to say on the subject.
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kingston, collegiate, vocational, institute, queen, elizabeth, kcvi, qecvi, limestone, district, school board, ontarioWith last Monday’s announcement that the Ministry of Education would provide $35 million to construct a consolidated secondary school in Kingston, one would think that supporters of the province’s oldest public school, Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute, might have been dealt a final, crushing blow. As we’ve seen during the one-and-a-half-year-long campaign to ‘Save Our Schools’, community members seeking to keep KCVI downtown and QECVI uptown are not easily deterred by bad news and seemingly insurmountable odds. From day one, the group’s organizers have rallied behind the notion that the Limestone District School Board’s Program and Accommodation Review (PARC) process was a “sham”, fraught with procedural blunders, bias and ulterior motives.

During the funding announcement, John Gerretsen, (retiring) MPP for Kingston and the Islands, stated that:

…the public has had the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns in many different ways. If you do not like the decisions, you have an opportunity at every election to elect somebody else to make those decisions.

Supporters of KCVI and QECVI are now clinging to the hope that, if elected, the newly minted Provincial Liberal Party hopeful, Sophie Kiwala, will follow through on her promise to work towards reversing the closures and reallocating the funds to renovate the existing schools. With our next date at the polls not until October of 2015 and the approximation that a new high school could be open as early as 2016/2017, the time available to engage corrective action is in short supply.

Although the location of Kingston’s yet to be built secondary school remains to be determined, Gerretsen was quick to pour a little more fuel on the debate that’s been raging for months:

I think it is indeed unfortunate that the city of Kingston council has taken one of the most obvious locations, to me, out of consideration. I would hope that city council will revisit that situation since I personally believe that the best place for such a new school would be the grounds of the Memorial Centre.

In light of the millions of taxpayer dollars that have gone into re-purposing and revitalizing the Memorial Centre grounds in recent years, including the aquatic facility, outdoor park and war memorial, as well as the successful farmer’s market, I can appreciate why City Council saw a need to send the ‘no vacancy’ message to the school board. That said, a newly launched petition argues that the southwest corner of the Memorial Centre grounds may in fact be an ideal location for a secondary school due to existing bus routes, the availability of green space and the surrounding distribution of the student populations. With Memorial Collegiate High School on the minds of many, this week’s poll asks:

Should Kingston's new, consolidated high school be constructed at the Memorial Centre?

  • Save our schools. Don't build a new one. (73%, 184 Votes)
  • It's an option worth exploring. (10%, 26 Votes)
  • Absolutely. (8%, 19 Votes)
  • Definitely not. (5%, 12 Votes)
  • No, we should use the KC or QE grounds. (3%, 7 Votes)
  • Build in another location (tell us where) (2%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 251

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What are your thoughts on the PARC process, and the decision to close both QE and KC? Are you in favour of a new, modernized and centrally located high school, or would you prefer renovation and preservation of existing facilities? Are the M-Centre grounds really our best option? What sort of impact would a school have on the fantastic work that’s been done to re-purpose and revitalize the grounds? Do you have a great idea as to where the new facility should be build? Drop off your comments below.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

2 thoughts on “Best of 2014: In Pursuit of Memorial Collegiate High School

  • December 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm
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    A new high school on the grounds of the Memorial Centre is just what that area of Kingston needs to continue the revitalization of the area started by the work already done. It is an excellent way to honour our veterans to bring together our two oldest public high schools to continue their pursuit of education excellence. Many of those men who gave their lives in both world wars were educated at KCVI and I think would heartily approve of its use as a site for a beautiful new school for the young people if downtown Kingston.

  • December 29, 2014 at 7:21 am
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    Sorry if I'm a bit slow on this, but the downside to having a modern, comfortable, efficient building in place of the two current relics was what exactly?

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