Mid­town schools rife with en­rol­ment pres­sure

TDSB hopes to play a larger role in fu­ture de­vel­op­ment in Eglin­ton and North York by David Olsen

Bayview Post - - News -

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.”

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