NEWS

Montreal centre for children with autism may need a new home

04/29/2015 09:10 EDT | Updated 08/06/2015 08:59 EDT
A centre for children with autism in Montreal West is hoping to strike a deal with the English Montreal School Board to acquire the building it calls home.

The Little Red Playhouse serves about 30 children — most with autism or a speech delay.

The centre operates out of an old caretaker's house next to Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary School. The building belongs to the EMSB, but the board wants to sell it for $600,000.

Sharon McCarry, the founder of The Little Red Playhouse, says she won't buy it at that price.

"Basically the building has been sitting here for 40 years and hasn't been touched except for the investments that I've been doing," she said.

McCarry wants the board to transfer the building to her for a nominal fee.

She says she'd rather spend money renovating the building, adding that she's ready to invest  nearly $1 million dollars in the property to expand it and double the centre's capacity.

"That way we can continue serving children, and help them integrate next door, so we are absolutely a feeder program into the English Montreal School Board."

The centre's lawyer, former Montreal West mayor Campbell Stuart, says the centre pays for itself — saving the board money by preparing kids for a classroom environment.

"Instead of having one shadow per child, you can have one for two or one for four, so you're saving a great deal of money," said Campbell, a lawyer at Colby Monet.

Campbell said he's optimistic the board will come up with a solution so that the centre doesn't need to start looking for a new home.

The EMSB would not comment. It says it's still in discussions and has no deal to announce at this time..

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