Parents refuse to give up fight for John Fisher

Local residents are frustrated; some argue there is no plan


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Residents have put up signs protesting the condo at 18-30 Erskine Ave.

Students at John Fisher Public School may be forced to relocate to the soon-to-be-vacant Vaughan Road Academy building next year. Although parents are not fond of the plan, many are more concerned over the safety of their children attending school beside an active construction zone.

Officials from the City of Toronto and Toronto District School Board (TDSB), including Mayor John Tory and trustee Gerri Gershon, joined more than 200 parents and kids to protest the construction of a 35-storey tower next door to John Fisher P.S. last month. But despite the apparent support, residents are criticizing the school board, for its notable absence from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) mediation, and the city for agreeing to settle on the issue in 2016. 

In a statement released March 4, Mayor Tory said the development was forced on the city by the OMB.

However, Ben Daube, who represented the Sherwood Park Residents’ Association at the proceeding, said the city ultimately agreed in the end.

“Explain to us what the plan is. Let the parents have some judgment.”

“We were [all] party to [the settlement]. If we hadn’t agreed to it, then the mediator in charge would have said, ‘Well, sorry, we do not have an agreement, you will go to a full hearing,’” said Daube. “TDSB was not at the OMB, and that’s the decision that they made and a lot of people are questioning it.”

Gershon argued the TDSB had submitted a letter of opposition through the city.

“It was determined that we would not make a submission to the OMB,” said Gershon, “because our legal counsel had indicated to us that a submission would surely not stop the construction of the building nor a significant height change.”

The TDSB is currently having a risk assessment conducted, and depending on the results, the board will either suggest students remain at John Fisher P.S. or relocate to Vaughan Road Academy.

According to a letter circulated by Gershon, some residents have already intimated that they intend to remove their children from the French immersion program at the school, which creates another complication since many of the nearby schools cannot accommodate more students.

“We’re exasperated because we feel like they’re not taking the time to look and get the facts,” said Stavros Rougas, a local parent whose child attends the school. “There’s no plan. You’ve got a giant tower there. Explain to us what the plan is. Let the parents have some judgment.”

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Jessica Wei is an associate editor for Post City. She has lived and worked as a journalist in Montreal, Hong Kong and, now, Toronto. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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