Exploring Exciting New Possibilities for Waterloo Collegiate Institute
The City of Waterloo’s (City) first secondary school, Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI), sits on 16 acres of land, within the neighbourhood known as Northdale – an area bounded by University Ave., Columbia, Phillip and King Streets. Northdale is a neighbourhood which is experiencing dramatic changes.
Once an area of wartime houses filled with young families, Northdale quickly became home to university students starting in the late 1970’s. Now many of those houses are being replaced with multi-unit, multi-story housing, in keeping with plans recently approved by the City. Those City plans also envision amenities and services which are intended to attract a broader population, and to revitalize the neighbourhood. Within this changing environment WCI remains a vital school, necessary to deliver the secondary program within the City. Three separate studies, conducted by the Waterloo Region District School Board (Board), have reconfirmed the need to maintain WCI, and confirmed the lack of alternative sites for the school outside of the neighbourhood.
Within the Northdale neighbourhood, WCI has other neighbours, including Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), which owns the former Northdale Public School site. Collectively, the adjoining lands (22 acres) owned by WLU and the Board account for 17% of the land area of the Northdale neighbourhood. Both the Board and WLU have a keen interest in the future of Northdale along with the City. The WCI/WLU lands were determined to have great potential to be a catalyst for the revitalization of the Northdale neighbourhood. For this reason the three organizations started a feasibility study to determine their collective needs and identify opportunities to pursue the re-development of the WCI/WLU Northdale Lands and potentially establish a “Community Hub.”
A “Hub” can be defined as a collection of facilities, programs, services and uses that support the three parties’ collective interests. A Hub would also address some broader Northdale and community aspirations, in a way that fosters interaction, gathering and community-belonging. The exploration of the possibilities for a “Community Hub” was a key component of the WCI/WLU Northdale Feasibility Study.
The Feasibility Study was completed between January and August of 2016, and recently shared with City Council and Board Trustees. The feasibility study involved meeting with stakeholders, identifying needs in the area, features and services that would be desirable, as well as possibilities for redevelopment which incorporate a new or revitalized WCI along with other community uses – a “Community Hub.”
At the February 13, 2017 Committee of the Whole meeting Trustees passed the following Motion:
That the Waterloo Region District School Board proceed with the Short Term and Medium Term objectives identified in the Waterloo Collegiate Institute/Wilfrid Laurier University Feasibility Study for shared redevelopment of the Waterloo Collegiate Institute and adjacent Wilfrid Laurier University lands.
The Short Term and Medium Term objectives outlined in the Waterloo Collegiate Institute/Wilfrid Laurier University Feasibility Study are:
Continued Stakeholder Outreach
Negotiate Non-Binding Letters of Interest
Develop Request for Proposal for Master Planning Services
Develop Master Plan
Develop Initial Development Proforma
Further that the Waterloo Region District School Board partner with the City of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University to share the costs associated with these objectives.
At the September 12, 2016 Committee of the Whole Meeting, Trustees passed the following Motion:
That the Waterloo Region District School Board staff be directed to report back to the Board of Trustees by January 2017 with recommendations for further discussion on how the Board of Trustees should proceed regarding the Feasibility Study after further consultation with the City of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and other potential stakeholders.