Her­itage ad­vo­cates push to pre­serve Dav­isville P.S.

TDSB plans to de­mol­ish build­ing to make way for a new state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity

North Toronto Post - - News - By Macken­zie Pat­ter­son

The Toronto Dis­trict School Board (TDSB) is forg­ing ahead with new de­sign plans for Dav­isville Ju­nior Pub­lic School de­spite on­go­ing ar­gu­ments that the build­ing should be pre­served as a her­itage site.

Cather­ine Na­smith, pres­i­dent of the Ar­chi­tec­tural Con­ser­vancy of On­tario (ACO), is con­tin­u­ing a cam­paign to save the school build­ing. The ACO has nom­i­nated Dav­isville P.S. to the Na­tional Trust for Canada’s Top 10 En­dan­gered Places list, and Na­smith re­cently met with mem­bers of pro­vin­cial par­lia­ment at Queen’s Park to ad­vo­cate for its preser­va­tion.

Built in 1962, Dav­isville P.S. was de­signed by the late Peter Pen­ning­ton for the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Toronto School for the Deaf and cus­tom de­signed to

their ex­act needs. The school is cur­rently suf­fer­ing from a long list of re­pairs, and in 2015 the pro­vin­cial govern­ment de­ter­mined a re­build was the most cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion and pledged $14.7 mil­lion un­der those terms.

Na­smith ar­gued the cul­tural and her­itage value of the prop­erty was largely ig­nored dur­ing that process, and the build­ing could have been re­pur­posed or a part of the prop­erty sold off in­stead.

“It’s a tragedy.… It’s just bad pol­icy at ev­ery level of govern­ment,” she said.

Last June, the ACO rec­om­mended the build­ing for her­itage des­ig­na­tion, but Toronto and East York Com­mu­nity Coun­cil de­nied the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Shel­ley Laskin, TDSB trustee for Ward 11, said that there is no pos­si­bil­ity of the cur­rent build­ing be­ing saved as a her­itage site.

“The school is not go­ing to be des­ig­nated her­itage. That ar­gu­ment is over. The cur­rent school will be de­mol­ished, and the play­ground and the learn­ing spa­ces will be where the ex­ist­ing school cur­rently is. It’s a very ex­cit­ing project, and we look for­ward to it,” she said.

John Hid­dema, a par­ent from the school, has been fight­ing for a new build­ing for seven years. He said the cur­rent build­ing is non-func­tional for many rea­sons in­clud­ing space re­stric­tions, a leak­ing roof and ac­ces­si­bil­ity is­sues, and the new build­ing will im­prove the com­mu­nity im­mensely.

“The new school is go­ing to be much big­ger in terms of us­able space, and it’s go­ing to be ap­pro­pri­ately con­fig­ured. It’s go­ing to be a much bet­ter fa­cil­ity for our com­mu­nity,” said Hid­dema.

Na­smith does not in­tend to give up the fight. “We haven’t fig­ured out what’s next, but we’re not done ar­gu­ing for that school,” she said.

“It’s a tragedy. It’s just bad pol­icy at ev­ery level of govern­ment.”

From top: Dav­isville P.S. and Sny­der Ar­chi­tects’ ren­der­ing of its new de­sign

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