De­vel­oper fees could help lo­cal kids

North York Post - - News - John Fil­ion Ward 23 Coun­cil­lor

Chil­dren in some Wil­low­dale con­dos look out their bed­room win­dows at schools that have no room for them. In­stead of a short walk to class, they get on a bus to the near­est school that can take them. McKee School, built not that long ago to hold more than 600 stu­dents, has now added porta­bles.

As with is­sues such as traf­fic and tran­sit con­ges­tion, school over­crowd­ing is the prod­uct of pro­vin­cial rules that force de­vel­op­ment on the area but don’t give it the abil­ity to deal with the pop­u­la­tion in­crease.

The prov­ince’s Places to Grow Act has des­ig­nated North York cen­tre as an “ur­ban growth cen­tre.” De­vel­op­ment is so ram­pant that the area has al­ready ex­ceeded the prov­ince’s pop­u­la­tion growth tar­get for 2041! Still, the OMB keeps ap­prov­ing new de­vel­op­ment that the city nei­ther wants nor can han­dle.

Com­pound­ing that prob­lem is another pro­vin­cial pol­icy that doesn’t al­low the Toronto District School Board to make de­vel­op­ers pay for new schools. That rule goes like this: if a school board has empty space in schools across the re­gion, it can’t levy de­vel­op­ment charges. With a school board the size of Toronto’s, in a city that has ar­eas of huge pop­u­la­tion in­crease while oth­ers have none, this rule is ab­surd.

A so­lu­tion is rel­a­tively sim­ple. Amend the Ed­u­ca­tion Act so that in provin­cially des­ig­nated “growth cen­tres,” such as ours — places where the prov­ince re­quires high­den­sity de­vel­op­ment — school boards are al­lowed to col­lect money from de­vel­op­ers to ac­com­mo­date the chil­dren who will be mov­ing into their build­ings.

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