As a longtime advocate for a west-end high school, I applaud the provincial government on moving forward and awarding the contract for site preparation for the new school on Topsail Road.
Since the conversion of Beaconsfield to a junior high in 1999, the west end has looked forward to the return of our community-based high school.
Upon its completion, I hope this long-awaited project will become a unifying focal point for the west end of St. John’s. I hope both the general community, as well as the school community, will be able to fully utilize and benefit from this new state-of-the-art facility.
However, I recognize that the opening of the new school will mean the closure of both Bishops College and Booth Memorial high schools.
I believe that this represents a real opportunity for redevelopment in these prime locations.
I suggest a mixed-use development, with perhaps street-level retail and/or office space, such as a medical clinic, pharmacy, fitness centre or the like, with affordable, rental housing above — a substantial portion of which should be aimed at seniors.
While our demographics demand greater availability of seniors’ housing, we can’t ignore the fact that many people, not only seniors, are feeling the pinch of increased housing costs in the city.
Our community is strengthened when we foster positive intergenerational connections; a new mixed-use development could facilitate the growth of such a community.
Bishops and Booth are ideally situated, close to public transit, green space and amenities; exactly the type of location where those in need of safe, affordable housing could enjoy being an integral part of a vibrant, sustainable community.
Done right, the west-end high school and the redevelopment of Bishops/Booth, could be a win-win for the city of St. John’s with both the west end and the city centre being enriched.
Sarah Colborne Penney