The City of St. Thomas, Algoma University, and the estate of Dorothy Fay Palmer have announced the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario university has expressed an interest in offering the first two years of its Bachelor of Arts program in St. Thomas at the former Wellington Street School P.S. site.
While the city acquired the property earlier in this year as part of the parking strategy for the consolidated court facility on the site of the Elgin County Courthouse, this proposed use of the heritage building would be of benefit to the entire community and an excellent use of the former school, states a press release from Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman.
In order to accommodate Algoma University, the city is seeking architectural services which would design and cost out renovation elements, including an elevator, installation of accessible washrooms and the replacement of the heating system.
At this very early stage in the project, the university has expressed an interest in using the second and possibly third floors. The city in turn would seek suitable tenants for the first floor of the school. The final approval for the project will be reliant upon the associated project costs. The Dorothy Palmer Estate would generously provide a contribution of capital funding.
“I along with the entire city council are very pleased with Algoma’s interest in the city and the possibility of this wonderful reuse of Wellington Street School made possible in part through the Dorothy Palmer Estate,” stated Jackson-Chapman.
Andrew Gunn, trustee of the estate of Dorothy Palmer, added, “When Algoma University begins to offer programming in St. Thomas, the impact will be tremendous. A lively student population will contribute greatly to our local economy and culture. Given that Dorothy Palmer was a teacher (at the former Myrtle Street P.S.) and had a lifelong interest in education, I feel that this is a terrific initiative for the estate to support. It has been inspiring to witness the enthusiasm for this proposal demonstrated by our political leaders in St. Thomas and by Dr. Myers and others at Algoma University.”
Dr. Richard Myers, President of Algoma University, noted, “for students from a city like St. Thomas, the most expensive part of getting a university education is not the tuition fees; it’s the cost of living in residence or of maintaining an apartment. Thanks to the leadership shown by the City, and by Mr. Gunn, students from the St. Thomas area will now have an opportunity to complete two years of university study while living at home.”
In order to accommodate students in the fall of 2012, the combined efforts of the City, Algoma University and the estate of Dorothy Palmer will see the design and planning of this project unfold quickly, with further decisions to be made later this fall based on forthcoming cost estimates.