Old Kenilworth school used for OPP training ‘beyond its useful life’

KENILWORTH – The former Sacred Heart School located at 9135 Highway 6 here could be demolished within the next few years, council heard at a Dec. 19 meeting.

The building was purchased by the township in 2010 and for over a decade has been leased for OPP training.

In 2013, the OPP provided $75,000 for roof repairs to the building and the township signed a five year lease agreement, expiring in 2018.

In 2018, the township entered into the current lease agreement with an automatic renewal term from 2023-25.

The town will receive $59,500 for the continued use of the building for police training.

But come 2025, the township will suggest the building be torn down.

Chief building official Darren Jones wrote in a report to council that the township “will not consider a further lease extension” considering that “significant capital investment” is needed to keep the building usable.

Plumbing, mechanical and the structure of the building “continue to cause concerns” Jones wrote recently, later telling council the mechanical system “is done” and beyond repair.

“It’s the geothermal system … as those units fail we’re turning on the old, original baseboard heating,” Jones explained.

“We’re reconnecting that to the panel to basically limp that building along.”

Staff plan to recommend demolishing the building once the lease concludes.

Councillor Penny Renken asked if the OPP would still be able to train within the township at another location.

Jones said the OPP had not reached out, adding, “I believe they’ll be reaching out to the county to see if they can do something located near the Teviotdale OPP centre.”

The building’s fate was being discussed in 2017 when then-CAO Mike Givens told council it was “nearing its end” without significant investment to keep it running.

“I’ve basically encouraged them to start considering other locations unless they want to contribute more dollars to the capital,” Givens said at the time.

Councillor Sherry Burke said the facility allows residents to see an OPP presence in Kenilworth and suggested staff examine the “viability of keeping some type of location for [police] in our community.”

Burke also questioned the rationale for recommending demolition and what could be next for the space.

Jones said the building “is beyond its useful life” and suggested rehabilitation would cost more than building new.

He also suggested the property could be sold.

In 2013, Mayor Andy Lennox had asked council to consider selling the property.

“At the time that we signed this agreement, I was not in favour of it,” the mayor said during a 2017 council meeting discussing the current lease renewal.

Renken wanted to know if another building could be built there for continued police training, as well as public use.

“It certainly is a great deterrent for speeders seeing the cruisers in the lot when you drive through [Kenilworth],” she remarked.

Jones said council would need to direct staff to investigate the options, but that direction was never given.

Jones’ report was received and the township authorized to enter into a final lease agreement.