A fixture in Old Ottawa South for the last 20 years the Westboro Academy is on the move. Located in the City of Ottawa’s former training centre building in Brewer Park, in mid-August the school is moving to 1000 Brookfield Road, a former French Catholic elementary school, near Bank and Heron.
“After 20 beautiful years in Brewer Park, Académie Westboro Academy is thrilled to be moving to a new location not far away, that will better accommodate the school needs. Brewer Park has provided a wonderfully central location, with amenities that are hard to match. It is with all of this in mind that it took 5 years to nail down where the new home would be,” says Head of School Meg Garrard.
The new location was a clear choice for the school with over 2½ times the square footage of the existing building, being nearby and still adjacent to a city park. Currently the location is undergoing a four-month renovation and unfit project.
According to Garrard, the school’s program and staff will stay the same, but will operate in a new space with a gym, science lab, specialized arts room, and a new learning commons.
“The reason for the move is twofold. The school has been searching for a bigger facility in which to operate. Additionally, the City of Ottawa, which owns of the building, announced they had other plans,” says Garrard.
Back in 1998 the City had asked the community to consider whether the City’s vacant training centre in Brewer Park might better meet the needs of the community than the current community centre at the Old Firehall on Sunnyside Avenue.
However the Ottawa South Community Association decided, after a three and a half hour passionate debate, to stay at the Firehall. In making their decision they also urged the City rather than sell the site to preserve the parkland and keep open future options for the community’s use of the site.
“There are no plans to demolish 200 Brewer Way when the Academy vacates the building,” says City of Ottawa’s Dan Chenier, GM, Recreation, Cultural & Facility Services. “The City is still reviewing plans for the site.”
For Garrard, leaving Brewer Park is bittersweet. “It has been the ideal location in which to run a bilingual and community focussed school, nestled in a vibrant neighbourhood. However, the school has long ago outgrown the facility and is looking forward to spreading it's wings for the next chapter.”
Ed Kucerak is a photographer and documentary director/producer. He is the founder of Kublacom Pictures, and he lives in Old Ottawa South.
Originally published in the July/August 2019 OSCAR.