Rural Halton Hills could soon be home to a new private school and equestrian centre. An application has been filed with Halton Region to amend the region's Official Plan to allow for the facility, called Keswick Sutherland School, being proposed for a 95.5 acre property on Eighth Line north of 27 Sideroad and south of 32 Sideroad (adjacent to Scotsdale Farm). A Niagara Escarpment development permit is also required. The public will have the chance to learn more about the proposed school and comment at a public
information session hosted by the Town of Halton Hills at the Civic Centre Thursday (February 9) at 7 p.m. "With the impact of residential development in Georgetown and surrounding areas, there is a desperate need for more schools, and educational choices," said Jesus Cordoba, head of the proposed school. "Parents are arguably more savvy and discerning regarding their children's education. As expectations and preferences change, educational leaders are responding with different services, curriculums, and educational approaches. The growing trend towards incorporating what has been coined by the Ministry of Education as `the world outside the school' is now the focus of every educational institution." Cordoba said the proposed Keswick Sutherland School, a multimillion dollar facility, will embrace that trend and along with the proposed 5,000 sq. ft. two-storey school, which will be built to look like an estate-style home, the facility will include an 11,000 sq. ft. barn and stable for horses and ponies, an approximately 40,000 sq. ft. riding arena and a Heritage Study Farm in the existing barn on the property.
The barn is to be renovated to provide students the opportunity to study land stewardship, the environment, and animal and plant care in a naturalized farm setting. An optional equestrian program will be run out of the horse barn and stable by certified riding instructors and the students will be able to enjoy 10 km of riding trails on the property. The school, founded by Cordoba and Callie Scheichl, has been in the works for the past eight years. They hope to open the school this September. Cordoba said they purchased the property in 2000 and since then have been conducting traffic, hydrogeological, storm water and wastewater management studies. He said they are very concerned about the environment and their plan is to use a bio-filter system for wastewater, and a geo-thermal system to heat the school. In preparation for opening the school Cordoba said they have done years of research and consultations with educators, principals, citizens, architects, agricultural experts, horticulturalists and environmentalists. "This grew here through the voice of parents," said Scheichl. The school is to serve 150 students with early years (18 months to three years), primary (JK to Grade 8) and Montessori education (Casa to Grade 4) provided. The teacher student ratio at the school will be 1:10. Full day education will range from approximately $10,500 for kindergarten to $14,750 annually for Grades 7 and 8. David Johnston, a planner with the Niagara Escarpment Commission, said he has received letters from some neighbours about the proposal. "There are some neighbours who are deeply concerned about this development," said Johnston. Concerns include how the proposed school will impact their water supply, traffic on their road, noise and personal privacy. Johnston said he is still awaiting comments from the Town and other agencies on the permit application for the proposal. He also said he is awaiting comment from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs as to whether the application adheres to the Greenbelt Plan. Nancy Mott-Allen, manager of current planning for Halton Region said they have received comments in support and in opposition to the application, and from those seeking additional information. She said the public will have another chance to learn about the proposal and comment at a region-hosted public meeting tentatively slated for late February at Halton Region. No change is required to the Town's Official Plan for the development.