Thank you, Premier Ford, for coming to Amherstburg last week. You couldn’t have picked a better spot for your event than the Fort Fun Centre. It’s a fantastic venue in an amazing Town.
Thank you for following through on your commitment to twin Highway 3. While not in Amherstburg, that project is a vital one. It will save lives and boost the regional economy.
Thank you, as well, for coming through with that $1.7-million OCIF grant. We are putting it towards badly needed road reconstruction projects on Concession Road 4 North and Pacific Avenue.
There is another big issue in Town to which I would like to draw your attention. Your government has an incredible opportunity to greenlight a transformational project that will help shape this community's future.
The public school board is combining two of our high schools into one, but your government isn't giving it enough money to do it right. Town residents are expressing concern. As it stands now, the budget sent to your government has left some essential elements on the cutting room floor.
That's right. An auto shop is out right now in Windsor-Essex, the automotive capital of the province and country. Those elements cost about $1.1 million.
A whole other series of elements — totaling $2,366,700 — has also been left out of the budget sent to your government for approval. These elements include $224,000 for lockers, $250,000 for retractable bleachers, $368,000 for seed/sod, $153,700 for "Paint to Walls," $44,500 for Whiteboard and Tackboards, $30,000 for gymnasium equipment, $5,000 for soccer goalposts and the list goes on.
The footprint of the new school is displacing several recreational amenities, including a track with a storied history that is well used by residents. As of now, there is no plan to replace it.
Your government is going to save millions of dollars in the long-term by combining into one school General Amherst High School and Western Secondary School. Please front-end load some of that money into this project so Amherstburg kids get the quality school they deserve.
The Town has just signed a shared-use agreement with the public school board so any elements left out of this project will affect more than just students. They will also impact the community at large.
If you can't find money from those operational savings, how about using the anticipated funds from the sale of the two existing high schools to fund the new build? The fair-market revenue from those sales should be considerable. Keep that money in Amherstburg.
Please. Talk with your Education Minister and Cabinet. Work with the Town and the public school board. Amherstburg deserves a state-of-the-art school that can bring this community together and set our students up for success, especially those pursuing their calling in the trades.
Your government is keenly aware of the skilled trades shortage in Ontario as evidenced by today's $14-million funding announcement aimed at training the next generation of automotive and manufacturing workers. This new High School can help fill the gap, especially if it has a modern Transportation Technology classroom.
I know money is tight and the debt you inherited is a beast, but if you can free up some funding to get this project right from the get-go, your investment will pay positive dividends for decades to come.