Ontario Government to Support Rideau High School Community Hub

Ontario has selected four projects across the province that will receive support under a new program to help establish community hubs, offering a number of public services for local residents under one roof.

One of the projects selected includes establishing a hub at Rideau High School in Ottawa.Through the Surplus Property Transition Initiative (SPTI), the province will provide funding to cover property holding costs such as ongoing operating and maintenance costs for up to 18 months. During this time community groups will be able to find additional partners and develop long-term business plans to transition the properties to community hubs.

The proposed community hub at Rideau High School is a joint project between the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre and Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Rideau High School in Ottawa, which are focused on Indigenous and non-Indigenous services including: alternative secondary school, urban Indigenous healthy living, life-long care, programs such as those for homelessness and bail, community justice, healing and wellness, cultural resources, a food bank, Indigenous job fair, housing, HIV/AIDS awareness, employment and training, and Inuit supports for students and youth. Other community services will include: health, social, recreation, life-long learning, and community engagement services.

The government says that supporting community hubs is part of a plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Surplus Property Transition Initiative was announced by the Government of Ontario in May 2017 and started accepting applications in July 2017. This initiative is designed to provide more time for local communities to develop viable business plans and complete due diligence before transitioning surplus properties into community hubs.
  • While community hubs are locally-driven, the province’s role and objective is to make it easier for community partners to offer services that are integrated and coordinated, strengthening community partnerships and making the best use of public space.
  • CommunityHubsOntario.ca offers free resources on community hub development, including webinar training sessions, a community hub mapper and various other tools.
  • In 2017, Ontario released its second progress report on Community Hubs, describing the progress made since the release of the Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan.

Overbrook supports Rideau Community Hub Project

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.