School board votes to save Drake’s alma mater

Former students pleased Vaughan Road Academy won’t be redeveloped


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Robin Daprato graduated from the school in 2011

On Feb. 8, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) voted against selling Vaughan Road Academy, to the relief of local residents. The school will close later this year, and although the building’s future remains unclear, locals argue it should be used as a community centre.

The TDSB’s decision to keep the property as a core holding means it won’t wind up in the hands of a developer any time soon. Instead, the community hopes the building will be opened up for public use. There is already an active daycare in the building as well as a heavily used pool. 

“So how do we maintain those services?” said TDSB Ward 9 trustee Marit Stiles. “We want to make sure what happens there is something that really benefits the community.”

“One thing we do know is that the recreational programs will continue. Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation run youth programs, and their camps will continue,” Lyba Spring, of the Oakwood Vaughan Neighbourhood Action Partnership (OVNAP), said.

The school’s closure came as a result of low enrollment, with only 200 students in a building meant for 1,179 in 2016.  

Spring said the community has been pushing to use the building as a “neighbourhood hub.”

“I would have been really sad if it was sold to developers and turned into condos.”

“I’ve worked very closely with others from OVNAP, and we wrote a report following a meeting where a hundred community residents came out and said very clearly that it was important to maintain the building and that there was a serious lack of services in the area,” she said.

But former students are still disappointed to learn Vaughan Road will be closing in June. The school, famous for being Toronto rapper Drake’s alma mater, has had a variety of specialized programs.

Robin Daprato graduated in 2011 from the Interact program, with a focus on music, and grew up about five blocks away.

“I think there’s such an opportunity to do something more with that space. Especially in that area, there’s not really [many] places like it there,” she said. 

“If they could keep it open as a public resource, I think that would be great,” said Lenny Solomon, a former student from 1972. “I would have been really sad if it was sold to developers and turned into condos.”

In the meantime, the option of reopening the school, in case demographics change in the next few years, is still a possibility.

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