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John Fisher Public School students brace for construction impact

Last Updated Sep 4, 2017 at 7:06 pm EST

The Toronto District School Board says they are ahead of schedule on upgrades to a midtown school meant to deal with the impact of a neighbouring construction project.

For months, parents at John Fisher Public School had been protesting a 35 storey rental building set to go up just steps away from their school. After the City of Toronto rejected the proposal, the development was eventually green-lit by the Ontario Municipal Board last year.

Parents had questioned how safe it would be for students to continue attending during the two-year construction project. In response, the TDSB commissioned an external report that found the school would be safe to attend, as long as certain mitigation measures were put in place.

In a letter to parents Thursday, the TDSB confirmed they have now completed several projects, just in time for the start of the school year Tuesday. They include:

– Construction of a twelve-foot high hoarding wall between the school and construction site

– New double-paned windows to reduce noise

– New air conditioning units to allow windows to stay closed and avoid dust and noise

– A new pedestrian/student access gate on Keewatin Avenue to be connected to the asphalt track (pending City permitting)

– New play equipment on the west side of the school

– Relocation of the full-day kindergarten play area to the front of the school.

“I think parents are happy that work is done when they’re going to come back here,” says Mary Mowbray, co-chair of the Erskine Tower Committee Parent Council. “The TDSB moved faster than we’ve ever seen them move and did a lot of work to the school.”

She says while parents are welcoming the new playground and risk mitigation measures, some are still apprehensive about the impending construction.

“I think noise could be a huge factor and the traffic. The trucks are on the sidewalk all the time… It’s going to be a whole monitoring issue.”

The TDSB’s letter states that the school board and developer KG Group each have hired third party individuals to “ensure compliance”. They say they also have plans to form a committee to meet on a monthly basis and discuss any issues that may arise.

A statement from Nathan Katz, vice-president of planning and development at KG Group says:

“Construction is well underway at 18-30 Erskine Avenue. We have been working closely with the TDSB and City officials and have implemented significant measures to ensure the safety of the children at John Fisher Public School. We will continue to work with parents, the school, the City and the TDSB going forward.”