Community Living planning to develop Sixth Street School

Peggy Revell

Sealing a $1 deal, the Rainy River District School Board officially handed over the keys for the Sixth Street School property on Friday to Community Living of Fort Frances and District.
While the building has sat empty since its closure by the board back in 2004, Community Living now has its sight set on developing the property—although what exactly will be developed has yet to be decided.
“There will probably be many ideas yet before a decision is to be made,” executive director Alanna Barr said about the future plans for the Sixth Street School site.
One possibility the organization, which advocates and provides services for people with intellectual disabilities within the district, is looking at includes the development of a resource centre that would be fully-accessible and environmentally-friendly through the use of “green” energy and “green” products.
The new site is especially needed and welcomed, Barr noted, since the number of people accessing the services which Community Living provides means the organization has outgrown its current space.
At this point, Barr said knocking down the current building is one of the possibilities because of its condition and not being handicap-accessible.
“We’re just in the ownership phase,” noted Steve Latimer, vice-president of Community Living’s board, who thanked the local public school board for its work to make the sale possible.
Meanwhile for the winter, Community Living will be working to seal up all the windows and ensuring the property will be safe, Latimer added, noting the organization still needs to secure funds for whatever it decides to do with the property.
“We’ll take baby steps and do it right,” he stressed.
“Finally there’s going to be a use for the site,” said public school board chairman Dan Belluz, noting how nice the site is with its size, trees, and how there is lots of space to grow.
“It’s win-win. It’s good for everybody,” echoed Jack McMaster, director of education for the school board.
“It’s going to be nice for them,” he added.
The sale of Sixth Street School to Community Living has to do with “honouring promises,” said Laura Mills, superintendent of business for the school board.
She explained that back in the 1960s, the Ministry of Education gave the board property on Walker Avenue. And there was an agreement in place that when that property no longer was needed by the school board, it would be transferred over to Community Living.
But with legislation changes over the decades, Mills noted current regulations meant this property on Walker Avenue couldn’t be transferred to Community Living.
As such, both the school board and Community Living board arrived at the solution of selling the Sixth Street School property for $1.