Over the last year, the Overbrook Community Association petitioned the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board aggressively to keep Rideau High School open, in order to provide a local educational option for our young people.
Working in joint partnership with the Vanier Community Association and Pro-Active Education for All Children’s Enrichment (PEACE), our organization formed the “Friends of Rideau High School” group to represent scores of community activists and the interests of thousands of neighbourhood residents to keep the school open.
With secondary school dropout rates higher in Vanier, Overbrook and Castle Heights than in other parts of the City of Ottawa, we believed that Rideau High School was absolutely essential for improving educational outcomes and increasing the life skills and opportunities of our youth. Unfortunately, the School Board made the wrong decision when it voted to close the school since half the children in our area live below the poverty line in social housing. Because of the school closure decision, racialized, Indigenous and immigrant youth in our neighbourhood are disproportionately suffering.
Our organization believes that a key contributor to our children’s social mobility is access to both quality local education and essential social services. Though we would have preferred the school remain open, and pursued actions to have an administrative review of the decision conducted, we are now currently committed to the transformation of the property into a community hub.
A community hub can be a former school that offers co-located, coordinated and integrated services such as health care and social services. Community organizations, including our association, are committed to the vision of the Rideau High School property being retained in public hands and used for the delivery of public services. A community hub would allow a number of agencies to provide social and cultural services to our neighbourhood, as well as contribute to economic development opportunities.
While community hubs are as unique as the community they serve, a key commonality is their concurrent ability to deliver both person and community-centered care. We therefore unequivocally support the efforts led by the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre to examine the feasibility of operating a community hub at the Rideau High School location. We acknowledge the fact that in lieu of an operating secondary public school, a community hub can contribute tremendous value to local residents, which can be measured and demonstrated in social and economic terms. Our community looks forward to such social and economic enhancements with the emergence of this community hub project.