Images courtesy AnnMarie Snider

Residents fear historic school may be torn down

Cedardale community in Oshawa is lobbying the city council to designate the historic building of former Cedardale Public School as a heritage site.

They fear that it may be torn down at some point and replaced with a new development.

Up to 20 residents gathered at the site on Friday, which concerned resident AnnMarie Snider, described as a big turnout. “I’d say about 15-20 people turned up, which was more than expected.”

Gordon St. Cedardale Public School at 827 Gordon Street was built in 1927. It is recognized as a Class A Heritage property by City of Oshawa, meaning it has the “highest potential for designation” as a heritage property, but is not currently registered as such. The school was closed in June 2002, and was owned in 2014 by Rehearsal Factory, and is used as a music rehearsal space.

“But it has to have protection for the future. Cedardale school is one of the very first schools in Oshawa – in the hamlet that helped make Oshawa a city. It needs to be protected from demolition before it’s too late,” Snider told Durham Post.

She has written to the new owners about her concerns.

Snider said the City of Oshawa during its April Development Services committee meeting, decided to consult with the current owner to gather more information to make a final decision on whether or not they will be continuing forward with a motion to pursue the designation of the school property.

A resident's poster
A resident’s poster

She pointed out that the former school has a rich history in the Cedardale area. It was a beloved school to many of its former students and teachers from generations past – many of whom still reside in the area. A couple of teachers from Cedardale school still teach at Bobby Orr Public School, just up the street on Simcoe South near Ritson Road.

Snider said the building itself was actually built after the preceding one-room schoolhouse now named Cedardale United Church (which still sits across the street and has been already designated as a heritage property) became too small for the growing population. Cedardale School ran as a school from 1920 until 2002. “The history of the Cedardale Public School spans almost a century. When Oshawa became a city in 1924 there were eight elementary schools – and Cedardale Public School was one of them,” she pointed out.

In 1983, the school board wanted to close the school, but the community fought hard to keep the old school open for many years before eventually (and inevitably) it was closed in 2002 and sold, she said.

Snider says that 0n November 25th 2021, a Heritage Research report submitted to the City of Oshawa noted that “The subject property merits designation under the Ontario Heritage Act considering criteria”, and that it was recommended to be designated. The city decided that the recommendation simply be ‘received for information’ and not designated ‘at this time’.

Following this decision, there was an outcry from the community, and the city was contacted by several concerned residents upset with the decision. After the development services committee received these letters at their meeting in April this year, the decision  was made to re-evaluate and approach the current owners of the property for further consideration, Snider said.

In her letter to the owners, Snider pleads with them to take the time to consider the importance of this space to the community during talks with the city. “The purpose of this letter to you is to assist in helping you, the owner, make an informed decision about this school’s designation as an official Heritage Site. There are many different uses for a site such as this, and the possibilities are there to make a profit, without eventual demolition,” Snider wrote while giving the example of the corner of Simcoe Street South and First, where sits a repurposed seniors residential building, which was originally a public school.

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