Stintz on Midtown: Can schools in North Toronto handle the kids from new condos?

Growth is good, but let’s make sure we don’t sacrifice what makes this area great


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The city keeps building and growing, but what about schools for kids moving in?

Everyone knows that real estate prices are driven by location, location, location. As a result, there is ongoing demand for houses and condos in North Toronto, even at a time when the city as a whole is experiencing a slight decline in the condo market.

One of the reasons that North Toronto is such a desirable place to live is the quality of the schools. It was certainly a key consideration for me when I bought my house 15 years ago.

When the Toronto District School Board threatened to redraw the boundaries to accommodate all-day kindergarten, parents spoke loudly against it, since they bought their house with the school they wanted their children to attend in mind. As a result, Allenby and John Ross Robertson schools added additions and portables to accommodate the growth.

Personally speaking, I don’t mind the portables one bit if it means my kids can continue to walk the four blocks to school.

However, imagine buying a new condo in the area as a starter home and then being told that, if you have children, they won’t be able to attend the schools in the area. It happened in North York. While I was on Toronto City Council, several new condo applications were approved with a proviso that buyers be informed in advance that their children might not be able to attend the local schools since they were at capacity.

Instead of a four- or five-block walk to school, children are being driven or bused to schools that have space available, some of which could be several kilometres away.

Although the local schools in our area are bursting, city council has not yet taken the step of approving new condo developments with conditions about schools. It may not be far off. The Density Creep Neighbourhood Alliance was dismissed as a group of wealthy homeowners overly concerned with keeping their prices high, but the group has a point about what amount of density becomes too much for an area to absorb. That is likely why the Save Our Streets from Density Creep signs line Mount Pleasant Avenue, far away from the controversial development that kicked off the campaign.

By and large, the growth over the last 10 years has added to the area in a positive way.

However, we need to ensure the desirability of the location. 

When kids can’t get into the schools and there is not enough space for both big kids and little kids to play, it might be time to think about what new infrastructure is needed to support further growth.

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Karen Stintz is a former city councillor, elected in 2003, and was chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her husband and two kids.

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