A midtown councillor and a Toronto District School Board trustee are pushing for a proposed midtown development to include a new elementary school they say is desperately needed in the area.
On Dec. 24, 2020, Oxford Properties Group submitted an application to the city to redevelop the Canada Square site at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue.
The development would consist of 2,701 residential units in five towers of up to 60 storeys, as well as retail and office and park space across the 3.7-hectare site.
According to Oxford, the Canada Square development will include “a new 10,000-square-foot community space that also features prominently in the central precinct, with the potential to accommodate a daycare centre, recreation space or other community services.”
Shelley Laskin, the TDSB trustee for Ward 8, Eglinton-Lawrence and Toronto–St. Paul’s said a new elementary school in midtown is a critical piece of infrastructure required to accommodate the projected levels of population growth in the area. She added that the size of the Canada Square site provides ample opportunity to provide it.
According to Laskin, there are 23 development projects in the pipeline situated in the Eglinton Junior Public School area.
“Students that will reside in these dwellings cannot be accommodated at Eglinton Junior PS. This means that approximately 270 elementary students will need to be bussed out of the community to other elementary schools with available classroom space or that have sites large enough to accommodate multiple portables,” said Laskin.
She added that the number is in addition to the nearly 60 students already being bussed outside the community who live in new developments.
“It’s a very challenging situation. The school board is really struggling to meet the school capacity needs of local families,” said city councillor Josh Matlow.
Matlow added that the developer’s plans, as they are now, offer very little community benefit and that this development is different from others in the area due to being located at the site of the former TTC bus barns.
“While there are private lease agreements on the lands, the land itself is public land. It’s owned by the city,” said Matlow. “I don’t see why there should be any excuses not to use public land in the public interest.”
Matlow said there will soon be a community meeting regarding the proposed development, where he will ask Oxford to alter its development proposal to include the new school.
“I’m making it very clear to Oxford that this is a priority for the community that I want to see them work into their plan,” said Matlow. “This is Oxford being a partner with the city, on city-owned land, so I just don’t see any room for excuses not to find a way to fit in evidence-based social services that inarguably we need to support a growing community, for both the people who live here today and those who are moving into new buildings in the future.”
Laskin added that it is tiring to see so many developments get approved without taking into account where the children will attend school.
“I’m really tired of development after development after development going up without any consideration about where these kids will go to school, because there simply is no public school space in that community,” said Laskin. “It just seems unconscionable that one of the criteria before approving development shouldn’t be where these kids emanating from these developments go to school locally, within their community.”