Growing enrolment has Woodland Christian High School looking to expand its Breslau-area facility. It’s hoping to buy 2.5 acres from a neighbouring 55-acre parcel of farmland owned by the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp.
The property is immediately north of the school at 1058 Spitzig Rd.
Acquiring the land would allow for another addition to the building, providing space for the 50 or 60 more students expected over the next five years. Current enrolment is about 250, said Jeff Buisman of Van Harten Surveying, representing the school at planning meeting held Tuesday night in Woolwich council chambers.
An expansion would include four new classrooms and a second gym. A zone change is necessary before the sale can go ahead.
Although the move would take up some farmland, studies show the impact would be minimal, Buisman said.
After looking at all the options, the only viable alternative was to build on land to the north, he added. The school can’t build to the east because of the location of the septic system. To the west is land protected by the Grand River Conservation Authority. To the south, the Ministry of Transportation has bought up the land for the future construction of a new highway linking Kitchener and Guelph.
While part of that land immediately adjacent to the school may eventually become available after the highway is built, the province has been planning that route for more than 30 years. It’s not feasible to wait for that option, he said.
The land to the north would also give the school more room for parking, which is already at a premium on the site. When there’s an event attended by the parents, cars typically end up spilling out onto Spitzig Road. That problem would be eliminated with an additional parking area, said Buisman.
A neighbour who runs a farm north of the school was the only member of the public to address councillors about the plan. Doug Knechtel said he would prefer the school to build in the opposite direction, as the building is already within the usual setback space from his cattle operation.
Given that he has plans to expand the business, he worries giving the go-ahead to the school could limit his options.
“I feel they should wait for the Hwy. 7 option, or go to the other side.”
In operation since 1978, Woodland last expanded in 2002 when it opened an 18,175-square-foot addition at a cost of $1.8 million.
The fate of the latest proposal will be decided at a future council meeting when planning staff brings back a recommendation report.