St. Paul’s councillor Josh Matlow charges the Toronto District School Board is manipulating parents and residents about the feasibility of its plan for redeveloping Davisville Public School.
Instead of the upgrades and expansion he says parents were promised, the board has asked parents to come up with a list of facilities they would like to see in a brand new school, Matlow said in an interview.
Then the board went back to parents and said in order to fund building that new school, the board would have to build condo towers on the site as well, according to Matlow.
“They’re basically saying to parents ‘dream of every unicorn that we can give your child and how we can build a school out of chocolate and if you don’t support a 30-storey building you can’t get it,’ ” he said. “That’s not fair.”
But St. Paul’s trustee Shelley Laskin disputes many of his claims.
While the board did discuss the option of 30-storey towers, they later brought that down to 20, and now to 12, she said. (Current city zoning would allow a maximum of six storeys on the site.) And even that isn’t their final decision, because they are working with the community on developing a framework.
“From my perspective all of this is a bit speculative until we land [on a framework].”
However, Laskin did say a consensus has been reached between the board and the Davisville stakeholders on the minimum amount of space for the school, playground and greenspace, as well as a minimum size for a residential development.
Matlow contends the school board has told parents it wants to have a September vote on the memorandum of understanding. In response, Matlow is planning a September meeting with parents and residents, where he will bring city planners as well, to discuss all the facts of what such a development might mean for the immediate neighbourhood and the city as a whole.
“The school board might say — naively — ‘make this one exception for us, we need the money.’ And I empathize with why they need it. I was a school board trustee, I get it very well,” he said.
“The problem is that if the school board works with a developer and they’re able to get 20 storeys in a neighbourhood designation of the City of Toronto’s official plan, then the next developer will look at that precedent and say ‘if those guys got 20 storeys, then we should be able to get 20 storeys.’And all of a sudden we’ve jeopardized the stability of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.”
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