Par­ents push to ex­pand pub­lic school

TDSB to con­sider the pos­si­ble ac­qui­si­tion of nearby plaza

Midtown Post - - News - — Sa­man­tha Peksa

A num­ber of par­ents with chil­dren en­rolled at Eglin­ton Ju­nior Pub­lic School say the Toronto Dis­trict School Board (TDSB) isn’t work­ing hard enough to ac­quire prop­erty that could sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce over­crowd­ing at the school.

The group met with On­tario Premier Kath­leen Wynne — who also serves as the MPP for Don Val­ley West — TDSB trustee Shel­ley Laskin and coun­cil­lor Josh Mat­low to dis­cuss the po­ten­tial ac­qui­si­tion of the plaza at 744 Mount Pleas­ant Rd., next door to the school, in late April.

Eglin­ton Ju­nior P.S. cur­rently op­er­ates at 113 per cent ca­pac­ity, with 574 stu­dents and en­rol­ment pro­jected to in­crease to 820 stu­dents (147 per cent) by 2024. The school sits on a 1.6-acre site that is too small to ac­com­mo­date porta­bles. A retro­fit will cre­ate two new class­rooms by Septem­ber, but the TDSB has noted the ad­di­tional space is still in­suf­fi­cient to ad­dress en­rol­ment growth.

“The ex­ist­ing com­mer­cial plaza at 744 Mount Pleas­ant Rd., south of Eglin­ton Ju­nior P.S., of ap­prox­i­mately .57 acres, could be a midterm so­lu­tion,” Laskin said.

If the Mount Pleas­ant prop­erty were ac­quired by the TDSB, Laskin said the site would be able to ad­dress the ex­ist­ing short­com­ings of the school site, en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate pro­gram space and the ad­di­tional acreage would pro­vide the school with much-needed play space that it cur­rently lacks.

How­ever, Laskin said the TDSB will hold off on mak­ing an of­fer un­til the land is put up for sale.

“The po­ten­tial ac­qui­si­tion of this prop­erty has been ex­plored by the Toronto Lands Cor­po­ra­tion (TLC) and the prop­erty is cur­rently not for sale,” she said. “Should it be­come avail­able, I will be re­quest­ing the TDSB seek ap­proval to pur­chase it through land ac­qui­si­tion funds from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.”

Lind­sey Wal­ton, a lo­cal res­i­dent whose child at­tends Eglin­ton Ju­nior P.S., said Laskin is not work­ing hard enough to se­cure the site. At the meet­ing, Wal­ton said par­ents were as­sured there was $100 mil­lion of fund­ing avail­able to the TDSB to cover the cost of land ac­qui­si­tion.

“There is money to buy prop­erty that’s just sit­ting there, and they are not do­ing any­thing about it. There is no pro­posal and there is no ask from them,” Wal­ton said. “That’s what is in­fu­ri­at­ing to us. You have to con­tact the cur­rent owner and push the sale for­ward. She’s not do­ing any­thing.”

It’s no se­cret the Yonge-Eglin­ton area is fac­ing rapid in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion. The Crosstown light rail tran­sit con­struc­tion has paved the way for many de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als cur­rently in the pipe­line, and cranes con­tinue to pop up at new con­struc­tion sites nearby.

Coun­cil­lor Josh Mat­low, of Ward 22, St. Paul’s, said the pop­u­la­tion pres­sure presents a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge for the TDSB and the group’s pro­posal is a vi­able so­lu­tion.

“I can’t imag­ine a more per­fect lo­ca­tion. If there’s a space di­rectly ad­ja­cent to an ex­ist­ing pub­lic school, why wouldn’t you want to use it?” Mat­low asked. “I think its just inane that in front of a condo pro­posal, the TDSB has to put up signs say­ing your kid may not even be able to go to a lo­cal school. That’s bad plan­ning.”

Laskin noted that even if the TDSB were able to ac­quire the prop­erty, it would only solve part of the prob­lem.

“Al­though tremen­dously valu­able for Eglin­ton Ju­nior P.S., the ac­qui­si­tion of the plaza does not ad­dress our long-term is­sues in the area. It is pos­si­ble there will be a se­ries of re­quests for land ac­qui­si­tion in the Yonge-Eglin­ton area in the near fu­ture,” she said.

A bound­ary change for the area has also been con­ducted, to move 40 stu­dents liv­ing south of Eglin­ton Av­enue East and east of Mount Pleas­ant Road to Mau­rice Cody Ju­nior P.S. for Septem­ber 2019.

Due to the large num­ber of res­i­den­tial units pro­posed or un­der con­struc­tion in the area, the TDSB also ini­ti­ated a larger re­view to ex­plore fur­ther bound­ary, grade or pro­gram changes and an anal­y­sis of the Ban­nock­burn prop­erty, a former school at Av­enue Road and Lawrence Av­enue West, which could ac­com­mo­date up to 300 stu­dents.

That’s what is in­fu­ri­at­ing to us. You have to con­tact the owner and push the sale for­ward.”

L–R: Lo­cal par­ent Michelle Fuller­ton, (cur­rent) Premier Kath­leen Wynne and Lind­sey Wal­ton

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