Education Minister Liz Sandals has announced the Ontario government is investing $498 million in school construction and renovation projects across the province — including $14.7 million to build a much-needed new facility for Davisville Junior Public School, where the announcement was made on Nov. 9.
Sandals was introduced by St. Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins, who said securing new funding for the run-down, overcrowded school had long been a “personal priority” of his — one that Sandals joked he would bring up repeatedly while sitting next to her during question period.
“‘What about Davisville?’ ‘What about Davisville?’ ‘Can you come and visit Davisville?’ ‘What are we going to do about Davisville?’” Sandals said during the press conference, imitating Hoskins, to laughter.
“We will be totally rebuilding Davisville into a modern state-of-the-art school,” Sandals said.
The new facility would increase the school’s capacity by 728 students to address enrolment pressure, and be located next to the current site so Davisville students can continue attending school during construction.
“We’re ecstatic that funding for a new build for our school has finally come through, and that we can get started right away,” Davisville Junior Public School Principal Shona Farrelly said, noting the current building “is quite old and has a few significant infrastructure conditions,” such as a gym that leaks whenever it rains.
The school at 43 Millwood Rd. has been targeted for replacement by the Toronto District School Board since 2010, but the board was short on money and the building deemed too expensive to repair.
Starting in 2012, the Board ceded redevelopment duties to the Toronto Lands Corporation, which was tasked with selling roughly a quarter of the school’s land — about 0.98 of an acre — to developers, and using the funds to build a new school.
With the province’s announcement, that arrangement will no longer be necessary, Toronto Lands Corporation CEO Daryl Sage said.
“We’re excited,” he said, noting Toronto Lands is now likely to take a leading role in developing the community space that many Davisville parents and residents, led by Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow and community organization Midtown Hub, have requested for the site.
“Finally after a great number of years, the minister is recognizing that this is a capital priority needed by the TDSB and the community,” Sage said.
Though $14.7 million “sounds like a lot of money, it’s going to be tough to build within that benchmark,” the school board’s associate director of finance and operations, Carla Kisko, said.
Kisko said the board is already seeking additional sources of funding, including child care, which is funded separately from education, and support from the city, should the new building share space with a community centre.
“There are going to be a lot of components coming into the discussion now that funding has been secured,” she said.
“But the community has waited an awful long time,” she added. “Hopefully we can get this building going and available to students by 2018.”
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