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Could Aurora's Dr. G.W. Williams S.S. be transformed into sport centre?

Town to explore partnerships with York Region District School Board
April 4, 2018
By Teresa Latchford

Could Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School be transformed into a centre of sport excellence for Aurora?

The town thinks so.

The public board and education ministry recently announced Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School, located on Dunning Avenue in south Aurora, will be moved to a new school to be built in east Aurora by 2023. The announcement sparked two proposals from members of council.

Mayor Geoff Dawe asked for council's support to direct town staff to approach the school board and prepare a report outlining a vision for the new Bayview Avenue school that includes "shared space" opportunities that would meet the needs of the students and the greater community.

At the same meeting, Coun. Tom Mrakas proposed town staff begin conversations with the school board to form a partnership to develop the Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School property into a centre of excellence sport facility.

"Many of our sport facilities are near or at capacity and we are experiencing population growth ahead of planning expectations," Kimmerer said to council. "If Aurora wants to be the most active community in Canada, we need facilities."

The current demand for playing fields, pools, ice pad and gymnasium time is outpacing the current facilities available, he added. This makes it nearly impossible for the town's program partners to grow their programs.

While Sport Aurora supports partnerships, such as the ones proposed between the town and school board, and commit to assisting in the securing of gymnasiums, ice pads, pools, ball diamonds and more, Kimmerer cautioned that these projects should not interfere with making the construction of a multi-use facility a priority.

"One year ago Reg Chappell (with the Aurora Ducks) reminded council the town's master plan commits to building a multi-use facility in 2019," he said. "We are once again reminding you of that."

The town currently has its fingers crossed that the provincial government will release a large piece of land off Bloomington Road behind Cardinal Carter Catholic High School so the municipality can locate its multi-use facility in that space. However, with the pending provincial election in June, there is no guarantee.

"Sport Aurora believes time is of the essence because the demand for these facilities are real," Kimmerer said. "If there is no guarantee, a backup plan needs to be devised."

Mrakas tabled his proposal to transform the soon-to-be vacant high school into a sport facility stating there aren't many land options left in Aurora to build new facilities and that these types of projects need to be explored early on in the game.

Dawe's proposal doesn't limit the shared space to sport as there are always requests from community groups, such as the Aurora Bridge Club, to use community space to accommodate their programs or meetings.

"These partnerships are new to us or the school boards," Dawe added. "Our partnership with the York Catholic District School Board to share space with (St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School) has worked out very well."

Both proposals were approved by council.