‘We have reached rock bottom’: Serious flooding at Toronto high school raises concerns

Monday’s heavy rainfall left a Toronto high school dealing with leaks and flooding. Erica Natividad with the concerns being raised over Ontario’s school repair backlog.

A local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) says she was in disbelief at the sight of severe flooding at a Toronto high school this week and is calling on the province’s Education Minister to take action.

The heavy rainfall experienced in the city on Monday impacted Humberside Collegiate Institute in High Park North, flooding the basement and turning the auditorium, among other areas such as the stairwells, into a leaky mess.

Parkdale-High Park NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche was at the public high school to speak with Grade 10 students when the state of the building floored her.

“I was headed towards the stage, and immediately, I saw buckets set up to collect the water for the leaks,” said Karpoche. “At this particular school, there are 20 spots that have to be checked every time it rains.”

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) told CityNews facility services is investigating a leak over the stairwell, which is closed to students. They didn’t acknowledge the issues in the basement or the auditorium.

“While the TDSB spends millions of dollars on roof replacements and repairs, we currently have an overall maintenance and repair backlog of over $4 billion,” said the TDSB’s Ryan Bird.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education: It’s up to the TDSB to properly allocate funds

The TDSB’s annual operating budget is $3.4 billion, funding that the school board has repeatedly called inadequate and “does not fully meet the needs of students in Toronto.” The advocacy group Fix Our Schools cites the current provincial backlog as $16.8 billion, which continues to increase.

“Over the past few years, countless people have shared photos, comments and their concerns about the state of Ontario schools,” their website reads. “They have emailed us and posted on FaceBook and Twitter.”

Karpoche, meanwhile, said this is a prime example of the state of the province’s public schools.

“I urge the [Education Minister], I don’t want to hear any talking points from him, and I don’t want to hear any excuses; I just want [Stephen Lecce] to fix it.”

Officials from the Ministry of Education said it’s up to the TDSB to decide where it allocates its funds. They added that the board spends millions of dollars each year on repairs.

“We have reached rock bottom,” said Karpoche. “It cannot get worse.”

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