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There will be two new schools on the site of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal
There will be two new schools on the site of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal

It has been known for some time that the Montreal School Board wants to build a school on the site of the Grand Séminaire. Ultimately, two schools should be located there. The Sulpicians, owners of the site, even intended to rename it Campus du Fort de la Montagne.

A text by René Saint-Louis , journalist on the show Le 15-18

It was on its Facebook page that the Centennial Academy announced its upcoming move to the site of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal.

This private secondary school will be established in 2019 in the west wing of the heritage building, which will have to be renovated by then. An independent entrance will also be cut into the wall overlooking Sherbrooke Street.

Centennial Academy offers a specific pathway for students with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD), dyslexia, autism and language disorders. Training is offered in English or French. Once the secondary level is completed, students can continue with college training also offered by the institution.

Currently, 325 students are registered there, but the Academy hopes to be able to offer training to nearly 500 students when it moves into its new premises.

A primary school

The other school must be built in a parking lot located behind the Grand Séminaire. It is a 23-class primary school of the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM).

The CSDM expected that Quebec would release funds this year to move forward, but last week, the Couillard government decided to prioritize two other sites to build schools in the city center.

The president of the CSDM, Catherine Harel Bourdon, says that the Grand Séminaire project is nevertheless in the pipeline and that a new funding request will be submitted next fall.

“We have always said that in the long term, we would probably need three schools in the city center. Because we already have needs for two schools, at least, but we know that there is a lot of residential development, plus the effect of immigration. So we think we must have a third school project.”

Catherine Harel Bourdon, president of the Montreal School Board
The management of the Grand Séminaire affirms that it is open to meeting the CSDM’s need for space, but it says it is ready to consider other proposals if the project takes too long.

A new campus

Two educational institutions are already established on the Sulpiciens estate. There is the Major Seminary of course. It is a university-level theological institute which trains priests, but also lay people. The Collège de Montréal has also been established there for 150 years. This private college offers secondary education to 1,400 students.

The addition of a public primary school and the Centennial Academy will therefore strengthen the historic educational vocation of the site, according to the administrator of the Grand Séminaire, priest Guy Guindon. His congregation was already teaching the First Nations there in the 1680s, he recalls. The place was then called the Mountain Fort.

“We now want to call this site Campus du Fort de la Montagne. We want to create an original campus that would be both public and private, and both secular and religious.”

Guy Guindon, bursar of the Grand Séminaire

The use of vast lands is also expected to change. Schoolyards and a sports field will be needed. We will even create a large park for neighborhood residents. The details of the land redevelopment are in the Fort de la Montagne Campus Master Plan that we have obtained.

This plan was presented to the Peter-McGill neighborhood Interaction table. The director of this consultation table, Stéphane Febbrari, welcomes the creation of a new green space open to all in the center of the Sulpiciens field:

“This is a unique opportunity to open significant green space to the 35,000 residents who live in the Peter-McGill district. I would tell you that this site makes us dream. It could be a place of respite in a busy city center.”

– Stéphane Febbrari, director of the Peter-McGill neighborhood interaction table

Positive reaction also from Héritage Montréal, which welcomes the master plan with great interest. The organization’s policy director, Dinu Bumbaru, wants to take the time to consult the document, but he describes the Sulpicians’ approach as “intelligent”.