Tucked away to the side of the Trans Canada Trail and currently unoccupied, it’s a school many residents may not even be aware ever existed.It’s been almost two years since any classes were held at the old Ottawa Waldorf School on Goulbourn Street, but that may change soon.
A company called Zida Business Associates took over the property last summer and has been renovating over the past few months, including new fencing and interiors. Trees were also cut down on the property several months ago. Signs on the property read “Zida Academy”.
Zida runs a school in Centrepointe that includes music, preschool, dance, and academics. According to their web site, more than 10,000 students have registered in the school since it opened in 1996.
More than 30 years after it first opened, the Waldorf School shut down in June of 2014 because of financial difficulties. An archived school newsletter indicated it was running deficits and was unable to pay its teachers. Another newsletter said the board had decided to close the school after years of declining enrolment.
A small group of parents and directors remained active and has a website dedicated to “supporting Waldorf initiatives in the Ottawa area”.
Group member and former school administrator Dina Cristino told StittsvilleCentral.ca there were plans in 2014 to merge with the Great River Waldorf School, also in Ottawa. The purchase of the new location for the merged schools fell through and by then it was too late. Both schools shut down due to financial difficulties and Ottawa was left without any Waldorf schools.
“A lot of [students’] families have moved on but stayed in touch,” said Cristino, adding the group is still active and sparsely plans events throughout the year.
Zida Academy director of operations Sheng Lan confirmed to StittsvilleCentral.ca at the beginning of March that his group will be opening a school at the location soon, and agreed to an interview once the school’s website was complete. Despite multiple attempts to contact Lan since the initial call, we haven’t been able to reach him and his phone number has since been disconnected.
We wanted to ask Lan why a real estate listing was posted online in Feburary offering the property for $1.6 million. Pictures in the listing show Zida Academy signage and brightly painted walls throughout the 4,500-square foot facility. (Cristino says that the the photos show that the interior has been renovated since it was last sold.) The real estate broker, Hamid Riahi, would not comment on who was selling the property and why.
If any of our readers have any information about what’s going on with the property, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Devyn Barrie is a student at Sacred Heart High School and runs 960 News, a Stittsville blog and podcast.)