Montreal School Service Center | Former schools for sale for 28 million

To replenish its coffers, the Montreal School Services Center (CSSDM) wants to dispose of seven buildings it owns, valued in total at nearly 28 million. “We are not property managers,” says Stéphane Chaput, its assistant general manager. However, some community organizations are feeling the impact of this change of direction.


The intention is clear: the largest school service center in the province no longer wants to manage buildings that it does not use for schooling. He therefore asks Quebec to authorize him to sell seven, which are valued in total at nearly 28 million.

In interview with The Pressthe Deputy Director General of the CSSDM explained that he wanted to dispose of the buildings which “no longer have a school vocation”.

“Keep them in our park [immobilier], it costs us enormously per year, simply to leave them empty, or with tenants whose rent does not even cover the cost of operation. We are not property managers,” said Stéphane Chaput.

In total, there are seven buildings whose value totals 27.7 million that the CSS wishes to dispose of. They are located in the Rosemont, Ahuntsic, Saint-Michel and Plateau Mont-Royal districts.

Despite their poor condition, “the council of commissioners kept them because they said: we have tenants inside. The building was in a sufficiently drinkable state for the tenants not to be at risk,” said Mr. Chaput, who recalls that the CSSDM does not receive any funding to maintain them.


PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

The CSSDM has 37 surplus buildings, including this one on rue Berri, at the corner of boulevard René-Lévesque. In this case, the envelope and the interior of the building will be redone and this space could be used in the event of an emergency closure of a school. “We know that we are going to have a school need in five or seven years, but in the meantime, it could be useful to us”, says the assistant director of the CSSDM, Stéphane Chaput.

The sale will make money, however. What will we do with it?

“If I sell a building for 10 million, but we have invested 6 million in recent years, there are 4 left,” replies Mr. Chaput. He adds that despite the CSSDM’s debt, this money is “generally put back into the buildings”.

“Orphan” community organizations

At the Montreal Coalition of Neighborhood Tables, they say they have seen a change in tone on the part of the school service center regarding the premises rented to community organizations.

“We understood that before, there was tolerance, a status quo with respect to maintaining the housing stock, but that with the abolition of school boards, [le CSS] is allocated very limited budgets to fulfill its school mandate,” says Gessica Gropp, project manager for community premises.

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PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

Gessica Gropp, Project Manager at the Montreal Coalition of Neighborhood Tables

When a building is taken over by the service center to sell it or to house students, the organizations find themselves “orphans”, struggling with the dizzying rise in rents in Montreal, says Ms.me Gropp.

Often, continues Gessica Gropp, organizations that are housed in former schools provide services to students, such as food aid, help with homework, francization courses.

What will happen if they close in disadvantaged areas? It makes no sense. We’ve been building a network of community organizations for 40 years and we’re sabotaging it, one address at a time, without it bothering anyone in the government.

Gessica Gropp, Project Manager at the Montreal Coalition of Neighborhood Tables

The tenants are not kicked out in a “wild way”, pleads the deputy director of the CSSDM, Stéphane Chaput, who ensures that the tenants have the right time.

“We are doing everything possible to allow [aux organismes communautaires] to avoid [ruptures] of service, but this collaboration cannot be to the detriment of our educational mission”, adds Alain Perron, spokesperson for the CSSDM.

Last summer, Solidarité Ahuntsic appealed to the media to denounce the upcoming sale of a building occupied by 13 neighborhood community organizations, a “total surprise,” says its director, Rémy Robitaille.

“We know that there is asbestos in the walls, the plumbing to be redone. Despite the alienation process, the CSSDM must carry out work costing several tens of thousands of dollars. I imagine it’s to facilitate the sale,” explains Mr. Robitaille.

A heritage “

At the Montreal Coalition of Neighborhood Tables, Gessica Gropp recalls that during the deconfessionalization of schools, the Montreal School Board inherited a “gigantic building stock”.

“It’s a legacy of all denominations, of all the communities we have in Montreal. In the 1990s, there was a desire to make these buildings accessible, for example to turn them into housing cooperatives. Today, we have moved away from that and we are privatizing them, ”laments Mme Gropp.

The list of steps that must be taken before a building is put up for sale is long, but one of the first to take is to notify the Department of Education. However, in Quebec, the spokesperson for the Ministry, Bryan St-Louis, indicates that there is “currently no request for authorization to alienate a building in progress at the MEQ from the CSSDM”.

“We are at the start of the process,” confirms Alain Perron, CSSDM spokesperson.

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  • 37
    Number of surplus buildings owned by the Montreal school service center

    Source: CSSDM

Montreal School Service Center | Former schools for sale for 28 million