Midtown schools rife with enrolment pressure
TDSB hopes to play a larger role in future development in Eglinton and North York by David Olsen
With an incoming transit line being built along Eglinton Avenue and the rapid intensification of residential pockets further north, parents and public school officials in the area are concerned about the current and future overenrolment of schools. Although short-term solutions are being implemented, the local school trustee Gerri Gershon and planners with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) are trying to find long-term options for this looming problem.
“The city is entirely responsible for building approvals, and that’s not our role, but we have to be strongly considered as an important partner on this issue,” said Gershon at a recent TDSB community information session. She said that, going forward, the board will be opposing developments when it feels it cannot provide proper schooling for those residing there.
Dan Castaldo, senior manager of planning at the TDSB, noted that in some cases an increase in students can be absorbed by existing schools, but, for example, the TDSB is opposed to a proposed development at 815 Eglinton Ave. E.
“It’s an application in an area where we’re also experiencing pressure, and what we’re going to say there is we need time to put together a student accommodation plan for the area,” said Castaldo.
In the area of Eglinton Avenue East and Laird Drive alone, the City of Toronto has identified the potential for almost 4,000 new units to be constructed, bringing in waves of new students for schools that are currently at or above capacity.
The meeting also addressed long-term planning strategies to find ways to accommodate future growth in the York Mills Road and Leslie Street area. Not only are these areas under development pressure, they are also the primary attendance area in the ward for secondary schools, including York Mills Collegiate Institute, Lawrence Park, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute and Don Mills Collegiate Institute. Studies to explore capacity issues at these schools will begin in December and conclude in June 2019.
“We’re inserting ourselves in all of the city studies to advocate for our interests and seek policies that address our needs,” said Castaldo, who recognizes these developments may still go ahead, leaving the TDSB to accommodate students through portables, boundary changes or otherwise.
“We’re bound by the Education Act to accommodate students in one of our buildings, and we will do that,” said Castaldo.
“We have to be considered as an important partner on this issue.”