Au Coeur d’Ottawa – New School Opening is Delayed but “Progressing Well”

By John Dance

Construction of L’École Au Coeur d’Ottawa in its new location in the Deschâtelets Building is “progressing well,” according to Linda Hurdle, Executive Director of Administrative Services for the Conseil des Écoles Catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE).

CECC say construction of the new school in the Deschâtelets Building is “progressing well.” The school will tentatively open in 2022.  Photo By John Dance

CECC say construction of the new school in the Deschâtelets Building is “progressing well.” The school will tentatively open in 2022. Photo By John Dance

Two major milestones were completed in June: the removal of all “designated substances” for the entire Deschâtelets Building and the demolition of the chapel wing.

Although the original goal was to open the new school this September, the target has been pushed back to 2022, however, more precise timing “is dependent on Ministry approvals,” Hurdle notes. The process for approvals from the Ministry of Education has taken longer than first thought and this is part of the explanation for the delayed opening.

The second reason for the delay is that only now, with the completed removal of “designated substances”, have the school board’s professionals had “full and unrestricted access to the structure and envelope,” says Luc Poulin, CECCE’s Director of Facilities. “Now that we have this, the engineers and architects can work to have the complete design and plans ready for structural remediation.”

By September, the board hopes to finalize the purchase of a second parcel of land just to the north of the Deschâtelets Building so that a new gym can be built. The gym will serve both the school and the new community centre which also will be located in Deschâtelets.

“The next major piece of work will be stabilization of the building,” says Hurdle. “Given the age of the building, it does not meet some building code requirements with respect to earthquakes…We hope to be able to start this work early in the fall.”

This “stabilization” work will include: bringing the building up to date with current earthquake code requirements; reinforcing the structure to accommodate new mechanical equipment; reinforcing some walls; demolishing current stairs and elevator shafts; modifying the entrance; and working on the exterior stone.

In April, the school board submitted its concept plan and interior space template to the Ministry of Education, but it’s not known when approval will be received. Similarly, the approval of the ministry for calling of bids on the detailed reconstruction of the interior will be required.

Although the Deschâtelets chapel was demolished as part of the preparatory work for the school, Hurdle notes, “Some of the stained glass from the chapel has been stored and we are evaluating its future use in the building.”

Au Coeur d’Ottawa will continue in its temporary home at 88 Main Street until the construction is complete.

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