| Jan 27, 2011

Proposals as varied as an indoor swimming pool, a rehab centre, a location for night classes, a Tim Horton's location, office space for Land O'Lakes Community Services and a banquet hall were all thrown into the mix as possible uses for the former Denbigh School at a public meeting last Thursday, January 20.

The school has been renamed the Addington Highlands Community Centre – Denbigh.

“There are no bad ideas” said Tony Fritsch, the Addington Highlands councilor from Denbigh ward who led the meeting along with Councilor Adam Snider. “Funding them may be a different question, but that is not for tonight.”

There were also proposals that would involve less extensive changes to the building, including keeping the gymnasium intact as a public use space and building a community garden and/or outdoor market on the grounds of the building.

Another suggestion was to move the library and public hall functions, for which the existing Denbigh Hall is now used, to the schoolhouse building. The present Denbigh hall costs about $16,000 a year to keep up, plus an average of $10,000 per year for capital costs. It is located on the property next to the school.

“Council will have to look at the cost of maintaining two halls,” Fritsch said. “We all have memories, sentimental attachments to this building, but the new space will cost money to renovate and maintain as well and we have to consider how much use this building will get once the new one is up and running.”

All these opportunities and questions will be considered by a council/community task force that was formed after the public meeting. It will meet tonight, January 27, and for the next three Thursdays to prepare recommendations for council. Members of the public are welcome to join the committee, and all meetings are public.

“We will start by working through the proposals that have come out tonight,” said Fritsch.

The meeting also included an update to the 50 or so people in attendance concerning the Lakeland Family Health Team (FHT), which will be operating a clinic in part of the new community centre starting on March 7.

Janice Powell from the Health Team reported that the clinic will offer full-time service, and will be open 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday, with different health professionals attending at different times. Powell said a Nurse Practitioner has already been hired by the Lakeland FHT, as has a chiropodist, and a dietitian is still being sought. The clinic will operate in temporary quarters while renovations are being completed to the space.

The township will cover the cost of the renovations, which will be getting underway as soon as possible once plans are finalized, and the Ministry of Health will pay $20,000 a year in facility fees to the township after that.

“The ministry said that if they pay for the renovations they would not pay any money for rent, so this is a better deal for the township in the long run,” said Tony Fritsch.

Among the questions that were put to Janice Powell was one about the possibility of a medication dispensary on the site.

“We are working on that one,” she said.

When completed, the Denbigh clinic will have an examination room, a procedure room, a physician and nurse practitioner's office and a reception area.

An Open House will be held at the Denbigh Community Hall on February 6, and at the Northbrook Lions Hall on February 13, from 2 to 4 pm both days.


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