Public schools are more than educational institutions; they are essential to creating liveable neighbourhoods. Despite their importance, public schools are being permanently closed across North America, and particularly in the Canadian province of Ontario. In 2015, one of Ontario's public school boards made the decision to permanently close the province's oldest public high school, located in the urban core of the historic midsized city of Kingston. While the school is not scheduled to close until late 2019, the established fate of this prominent public asset has important consequences for the liveability of Kingston's urban core. Accordingly, the objective of this study was to document residents’ perceived impacts of the decision to close to Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute (KCVI) on liveability in the school's catchment area. We observed widespread dissatisfaction with the decision to close KCVI (85%), with large proportions of respondents (above 40%) anticipating KCVI's closure to negatively impact neighbourhood liveability in various ways in the future. Approximately one-quarter of respondents indicated that they have considered moving as a result of the decision, and among these, concerns about negative impacts to household-level well-being were particularly acute. Given the socio-demographic profile of respondents who have considered moving, these findings suggest that the closure of KCVI could have a destabilising effect on the neighbourhoods within the KCVI catchment area by driving families out of the city's urban core. Our findings suggest that policies to address concerns of under-enrolment are short-sighted and undermine efforts of other sectors to promote liveable communities.
Patricia A. Collins, Lindsay Allman & Bill Irwin (2019) Exploring the perceived impacts of a public high school closure for urban liveability in a Canadian midsized city, Local Environment, 24:8, 678-695, DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2019.1631774