Make de­vel­op­ers pay

Over­ca­pac­ity schools and hun­dreds of condo units on way — some­thing has to give

Annex Post - - NEWS - KAREN STINTZ

For most peo­ple, buy­ing a house is the most sig­nif­i­cant de­ci­sion they make be­cause it will be the place they live, send their kids to school, meet neigh­bours, make friends and build com­mu­nity. Since a house pur­chase is usu­ally for the long term, the qual­ity of the schools in the area is a key con­sid­er­a­tion when choos­ing a neigh­bour­hood.

Each year the pop­u­la­tion in­creases across the city, and lo­cal schools in some ar­eas are start­ing to feel the pres­sure of crowd­ing. Although it seems log­i­cal that new de­vel­op­ments should fund the lo­cal schools in grow­ing neigh­bour­hoods, it is not the case for the Toronto Dis­trict School Board. Although de­vel­op­ers pay a charge for ev­ery new unit un­der con­struc­tion to fund in­fra­struc­ture, schools are not in­cluded.

The rea­son schools are not in­cluded is be­cause the schools are not at ca­pac­ity across the city at large. The ex­pec­ta­tion by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion is that the school board will con­tinue to con­sol­i­date schools or sell land un­til the sys­tem is at ca­pac­ity be­fore any new school is built.

This propo­si­tion is ridicu­lous be­cause a school with space in cen­tral Eto­bi­coke does lit­tle to help school kids that are in porta­bles in the mid­town area.

It is also a po­lit­i­cal non-starter for the school board to sell sur­plus schools and land be­cause even schools that are not at full ca­pac­ity are val­ued by the com­mu­nity and are of­ten used as park and com­mu­nity space.

In re­sponse, city of­fi­cials are team­ing up with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Toronto Dis­trict School Board to pe­ti­tion the Province for ad­di­tional money from de­vel­op­ers to build or ren­o­vate schools where there is de­mand.

Any fees for school ex­pan­sion re­quire the per­mis­sion of the On­tario Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. The Min­istry has to give per­mis­sion to the city, and then the city can in­crease de­vel­op­ment charges.

Of course, the de­vel­op­ment in­dus­try can ap­peal the pro­posed in­crease to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board. The de­vel­op­ment in­dus­try al­ready be­lieves it gives enough money to the city; it is un­likely to vol­un­tar­ily hand over more.

While the buck keeps get­ting passed, schools in the area will keep grow­ing beyond ca­pac­ity.

Porta­bles in the play­ground are al­ready a way of life for some Toronto stu­dents and will con­tinue to be added to meet de­mand. Mov­ing kids from porta­bles to class­rooms would be a good is­sue for the lo­cal politi­cians to solve so that Mid­town con­tin­ues to be the most de­sir­able place in the city to live.

A new North Toronto Collegiate In­sti­tute was only built af­ter a deal with a con­do­minium de­vel­oper

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