A proposal to turn the site of the Grant Alternative School into a Francophone community service centre has become one of the lightning rod issues of the election in Bay Ward.

Among the top contenders for the seat, three candidates agree on the plan, at least in principle, but one has vowed to make sure that it never happens.

Incumbent Alex Cullen has been a supporter of the plan and helped guide it to approval from city council.

Reusing the school for French-language health and social services for 28,000 Francophones living in west Ottawa saves a community asset and preserves green space and heritage, he said.

Mark Taylor said the long-term care beds and seniors housing will have a positive impact, but he wants to see more consultation with the neighbourhood before work begins.

As a Francophone, Oni Joseph said she has found it difficult to obtain services in French, especially in the city’s west end.

However, Terry Kilrea called the project an abuse of public tax dollars since it will only be used by Francophones. The city bought the land for $3.9 million and is selling it to Centre Multiservices Francophones de l’ouest d’Ottawa for $2 million.

Kilrea said the number of Francophones in the west side of Ottawa who claim they can’t access French services is exaggerated by proponents.