Developer fees could help local kids
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.