2 schools, 1 community hub planned for southeast Cambridge

The City of Cambridge will share a plot of land in Dundas Street S. and Branchton Road area that will include a recreation complex and a jointly built public and Catholic elementary schools, the first of its kind in the region. (Submitted by the City of Cambridge - image credit)
The City of Cambridge will share a plot of land in Dundas Street S. and Branchton Road area that will include a recreation complex and a jointly built public and Catholic elementary schools, the first of its kind in the region. (Submitted by the City of Cambridge - image credit)

In a first for Waterloo region, the public and Catholic school boards will share a property with a new community hub in southeast Cambridge.

The city and two school boards are set to build two elementary schools and a recreation complex all on the same property at 605 Wesley Blvd., which is in the area of Branchton Road and Dundas Street S.

Cambridge Mayor Jan Liggett says the city has owned the 13 hectare property for many years and expected growth in that part of the city made staff realize it would be a good fit.

"We wouldn't have to buy land. We would be able to utilize land that was ours and utilize it in a different way than originally thought. So what we have created here now is a community hub," Liggett said.

The recreational complex will include swimming pools for competition and leisure, three international basketball regulation gymnasiums, trails for running and walking, a fitness area, rooms to rent for events and a library location.

The recreation centre is expected to cost $109 million.

The new school scheduled for 605 Wesley Boulevard will create 519 new student spaces for the Waterloo Region District School Board.
The new school scheduled for 605 Wesley Boulevard will create 519 new student spaces for the Waterloo Region District School Board.

The new school scheduled for 605 Wesley Boulevard will create 519 new student spaces for the Waterloo Region District School Board. (Submitted by the Waterloo Region District School Board)

It will also be right next door will be two elementary schools run by the public and Catholic school boards.

The Waterloo Region District School Board plans to have 519 new student spaces, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board anticipates it will have 354 new spaces and there will be 72 licensed child care spaces available.

The design is similar to the Canoe Landing Project in Toronto. In that location are two elementary schools run by the public and Catholic boards, a community and recreation centre as well as child care centre.

Shared but also distinct spaces

The planning for the school in the southeast part of Cambridge dates back to the late 1990s, says Jennifer Passy the manager of planning for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

She says at the time, both school boards were committed to build elementary schools in the area and says they were fortunate to get committed funding from the province in June 2020.

"We've been working with our architectural team over the last few years to design a school that has shared space, but also unique and different distinct spaces for both the public and Catholic schools," said Passy.

"Essentially it is one building. It will have two names. It will have two administrative functions, but there will be shared elements like the gymnasium, other smaller spaces, as well as the library, learning commons. And we're all on one site, so we'll all be sharing a yard and parking."

Cambridge MPP Brian Riddell announced in early June an investment of $40.9 million to create the school space.

An initial announcement by the province indicated the schools would be open by 2025, but a number of approvals would be needed before the first day of school, said Chris Sagar the superintendent of facility services at Waterloo Region District School Board.

The Waterloo Catholic District Board school at the Wesley Boulevard location  will include 354 new student spaces. Childcare spaces will be available at the jointly used school location.
The Waterloo Catholic District Board school at the Wesley Boulevard location will include 354 new student spaces. Childcare spaces will be available at the jointly used school location.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is planning for its school at the Wesley Boulevard location to include 354 new student spaces. Child care spaces will be available at the jointly used school location. (Submitted by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board)

"We're still waiting for our municipal approvals, the site plan approval and the building permit," Sagar said.

Sagar says it's hoped construction could begin this fall.

"November is probably the earliest we think we can get into the ground," he said.