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Toronto school may have to move due to 35-storey condo project

Last Updated Mar 4, 2017 at 7:10 pm EST

Residents in North Toronto say a planned development near Yonge and Eglinton is a bad deal for students attending the school next door, which could be forced to move.

The 35-storey tower will be built next to John Fisher Junior Public School (JFPS) and a connected daycare.

The project was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) last year, much to the dismay of parents, who say their kids will be playing steps away from the construction site. At some point, there was also talk about using the playground as a staging area for crews.

“Parents are justifiably angry that the OMB approved the tower next to their school in the first place,” said Josh Matlow, who is the councillor for another ward, but represents constituents at the school.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has hired a third-party contractor to conduct a risk assessment to evaluate the impact the project would have on the school.

The first phase of that assessment, only referred to as a generic evaluation, has been completed according to a letter the school board sent to parents on Friday.

The letter said the next steps would be to get “specific details about the proposed construction management plan” from the city.

“Based on the findings of Phase 2, the TDSB will assess measures to mitigate the risks associated with the development including a possible relocation of JFPS and the daycare,” the letter read.

“Given the board has decided to keep Vaughan Road Academy as a core holding, this location will be considered as a potential relocation site.

“The big question is — Is the school board going to have to be forced to uproot the entire community, the kids and the daycare, to make way for a developer to get rich next door?” Matlow said.

He added the fact there’s already talk of relocating the school before the risk assessment is even complete shows the city, along with the school board, need to increase measures to ensure the condo is blocked.

“The school needs to draw a line in the sand and say we’re here and we want to protect our kids, but we also don’t think that the entire community should be uprooted from Yonge and Eglinton and have to go across town,” Matlow said.

The ward’s councillor, Jaye Robinson, said in an email she has opposed the development since it was proposed.

“Over the past few months, I’ve been working closely with the parent and neighbourhood community to ensure that the highest health and safety standards are in place during construction,” she said.

“I, like the parents of John Fisher students, as well as local residents, continue to believe that this building never should have been approved in the first place.”

Her office said she’s had meetings with both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor John Tory, who says the project was forced on the city by the OMB.

“I will do whatever I can to ensure that the best interests and well-being of this neighbourhood, including John Fisher students, are protected,” Tory said in an email.

“In effect, [the development] has been forced on the city by the Ontario Municipal Board. But the OMB decision is no reason to abandon the well-being of a stable neighbourhood or one of Toronto’s most respected public schools.”

The TDSB hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

According to the board’s letter to parents, the risk assessment should be completed by the end of April.