Local dignitaries joined Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce on Friday to officially mark the start of construction of Brantford’s newest secondary school in more than 30 years.
St. Padre Pio Catholic Secondary School is scheduled to open in 2026 and will serve as a model for the rest of the province, Lecce said at a ground-breaking ceremony.
Lecce said the school is a $45.7 million investment that will foster learning to 1,100 students and provide much-needed child-care spaces in the community.
“This is a game changer when it comes to providing access to affordable child care for parents co-located in a school,” Lecce said.
The school will have an emphasis on STEM – science, technology, engineering and math — and the skilled trades, Lecce said.
“We are determined to build schools and expansions faster, part of our commitment to modernize schools in fast growing communities,” Lecce said.
St. Padre Pio is being built on a 6.87-hectare (17-acre) parcel of land on the north side of Powerline Road between Greenfield and Old Farm roads.
Assumption College School, which opened in 1992, is the last secondary school to be built in Brantford.
Lecce praised the efforts of Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma for his hard work in advocating for the school.
Bouma, school board chair Rich Petrella, Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis and Monsignor Murray Kroetsch were among those who attended the ground-breaking ceremony. They were joined by representatives of the city and the school.
“Our board is growing, and I’m extremely excited about the future,” Petrella said. “This modern and future-focused teaching and learning environment will prepare our students for jobs that we, at this time, can only imagine will exist.
“We are excited to begin this project with the Ontario government that, through action, has proven its commitment to excellence in learning through Catholic education.”
Petrella said the new school is the result of hard work, advocacy, vision, and collaboration between the school board, Bouma, the education ministry and the city.
The 14,969-square-metre (161,125-square-feet) school will have a large technical wing, triple gym and sports field. It is needed to take the pressure off St. John’s College and Assumption, which are already bursting at the seams with students, and will include 128 child-care spaces.
Bouma said the local education system continues to see unprecedented enrolment.
“Students from all backgrounds will have an opportunity to learn at a new state-of-the-art school that will work with industry to ensure students will be taught and trained in a way that prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow,” Bouma said.
Davis said he feels blessed to be part of a community that can work together to get a new secondary school built. He also praised the school board for being proactive.
The school board is moving forward with the new secondary school recognizing that the area surrounding will soon be developed to both the west and the east.