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 already been forced to add portables.
As with issues such as traffic and transit congestion, school overcrowding is the product of provincial rules which 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 provincially-appointed OMB keeps approving new development that the city neither wants nor can handle.
Compounding that problem is another provincial policy which 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 which has areas of huge population increase and while others have none, this rule is obviously 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 high-density development – school boards be allowed to collect money from developers to accommodate the children that will be moving into their buildings.
Recently, John proposed this solution at a meeting of local parents at McKee. They seemed to like it, as did local trustee Alexander Brown.
In June, Willowdale MPP David Zimmer arranged a meeting involving himself, Alexander Brown, John and Education Minister Mitzie Hunter. Though the Minister did not embrace John’s development charge proposal, she did state a commitment to work with school boards to provide funding for new schools in areas like ours.
Seeking solutions, not promises, Alexander Brown has arranged a public meeting with MPP Zimmer and Minister Hunter. If you are concerned about this issue, John encourages you to attend and add your voice to those of concerned parents throughout the neighbourhood:
Monday, October 30, 2017 – 7:00 PM Earl Haig Secondary School Cafetorium (100 Princess Ave)