The future of Davisville PS

[attach]6137[/attach]My family is moved into our new house near Yonge Street and Davisville Avenue and we’re loving it.

The move means that my son will be attending Davisville Public School starting in 2013. It’s a good school and we’re looking forward to joining that community, but I am concerned about its future as the [url=]Toronto District School Board is planning to redevelop the property[/url]. A new school and other new buildings are being discussed with the community.

Talk around what could be done on the property began in 2009 when the school board convened an Accommodation Review Committee. The committee mapped out the future use of many schools, but in Davisville’s case, it has always been a little different. From the start of the committee, it was clear that the school board wanted to justify building a new school.

Davisville is one of their most valuable pieces of real estate and therefore holds the best potential for a partnership with a developer who would take some of the site to build condos (like North Toronto Collegiate). In my opinion, the board will most likely be open to an even more complex deal with the developers next door who own the northeast corner of Davisville Avenue and Yonge Street.

However, there are a few problems with building a new Davisville Public School:

1. The board is broke and a $35 million new school cannot be funded by a real estate deal alone (whole 3-hectare property without school on it may be worth $30 million).

2. The province is also broke.

3. Davisville P.S. doesn’t need to be rebuilt. It was built in 1962, is in good condition. It needs some TLC like paint, masonry work, new windows, an elevator for the disabled, technology/wifi retrofit, new playing field, but at most that would cost $5 million to bring it into the 21st century.

4. The city planning rules for the property do not permit anything higher than a four-storey apartment building with no elevator. It is designated a Neighbourhood in the Official Plan because it relates to the low-density neighbourhood north of it. The north side of Davisville Avenue is very different than the south side, which is where the city plan loads the density because it allows for a proper height transition from that designated Apartment Neighbourhood into the school and houses north of it.

5. Why is the school board acting like a developer? If they don’t have any money and a huge maintenance list, why not fix the existing schools and focus on creating a new curriculum?

6. The students will lose out on playing space. The new school will probably go where the playing field is now, which gets sun. If the field is built where the school is now on the north side of the property, the playground will be smaller and will be in shade. By the way, the prime section of the real estate property is along Davisville Avenue itself, where the playing field is located.

I’m obviously skeptical, especially since the school doesn’t need to be torn down. I am concerned about the education of our children, as well as the true lack of public funds available anywhere to throw at this dream school board project. I am concerned that all we need is a facility upgrade.

I look forward to taking part in the public process around this proposed development as a local Davisville parent. You may want to get involved too.