Construction beside John Fisher to begin
Concern over monitoring at Yonge and Eglinton school
The developer of a 35-storey tower proposed for next door to John Fisher Junior Public School has reached an agreement with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) that will allow construction to begin this summer. But parents argue certain elements of the recent risk assessment have been ignored.
“The parents are very concerned that the TDSB … is watering down the clear recommendations of the risk assessment to justify their predetermined outcome,” said Etienne de Villiers, a parent whose child attends the school.
The risks identified in the assessment by Environmental Consulting Occupational Health (ECOH) include diesel exhaust, air quality, noise, traffic and fire.
At a public meeting on May 3, Om Malik, CEO of ECOH, said the assessment also took learning hazards into account.
“Small children are more vulnerable to certain risks. They are developing. Their health and safety is not only affected, but [also] their attention span and their learning environment,” he said.
ECOH recommended 14 measures to mitigate risks related to the construction, which include the hiring of a credible third party to monitor construction each day. If a third party is not on site daily, the assessment stated the risk would fall within an unacceptable range and ECOH would not recommend occupancy of the school during construction. Although ECOH found the mitigation measures proposed in the new agreement to be acceptable, De Villiers claims the language leaves too much room for interpretation.
“The agreement has a TDSB third party monitor the site ‘ as frequently’ as daily,” he said. “They could attend one time only with the language that was adopted.”
As part of the agreement, the developer KG Group will erect a 12-foot hoarding wall between the construction site and the school before excavation; use safety netting; and install double-height guards across building openings.
The TDSB will also put some of its own safety measures in place.
Angelos Bacopoulos, associate director of facilities with the TDSB, said the playground will be moved to the east end of the school, and the windows on the west side of the building will be replaced by the fall of 2017. The TDSB will also put up a second hoarding wall between the site and school.
The TDSB board approved the plan on May 24.
In the meantime, parents must decide if their children will attend the school next year. De Villiers, for one, said his child will not be returning.
Parents and students protest the construction plan for the 35-storey tower in front of John Fisher P.S. on May 24