On Thursday, June 2nd, the Toronto District School Board hosted a public meeting to update the community on the revised development application for 411 Church Street. Jeff Latto of the TDSB presented the revised application, and sought community input for an Impact Statement to be presented to the City for inclusion in the Final Planning Report. Just over 30 members of the community gathered at Church Street Junior Public School to ask questions and share their concerns about the impact this development will have on the school and its students.
Some key changes to the application since it was last presented to the community included:
With this revised application, it is expected that the developer intends to demonstrate that they have addressed the concerns expressed by the community during previous consultations. Latto noted that there will still be a significant impact on the school, and that the TSDB is not in support of a building of this size for the site.
One of the major concerns that still exists is the impact of shadow on the schoolyard and students. The new shadow study revealed a shadow that already touches the schoolyard at 10:00 am, and by noon covers almost half of the schoolyard and crosses over the school itself. At 2:00 pm, during afternoon recess, the majority of the schoolyard is covered by shadow. Although there has been a reduction to the overall shadow cast by the building, much of the reduction in shadow exists outside the schoolyard area. It was suggested that the community should continue to advocate for the height and width of the building to be reduced to the point that there is no new net shadow on the schoolyard. Other concerns included overcrowding at the school, the potential loss of playground and sport field space to portables, and safety concerns for students as a result of increased traffic caused by the location of the parking garage and garbage bay entrance in a laneway off of Wood Street.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who attended the first portion of the meeting, expressed her opinion that it would be extremely valuable to have the TDSB obtain Party status when the application reaches the OMB. When asked why the TDSB has not yet decided whether to seek party status, Latto explained that there is no budget specifically allocated for this purpose, and that the board's challenge is deciding whether obtaining Party status will have enough impact to justify spending such a large number of educational dollars. Councillor Wong-Tam also noted that, if the development goes ahead as planned, there may be an opportunity to accept space within the building for community use. Although this could present an opportunity to provide space for services that would benefit the community, such an arrangement would involve significant operating cost on an ongoing basis. A similar offer from the developers of 70-72 Carlton had to be declined when a suitable occupant for the space could not be found.
The meeting concluded with an acknowledgement that more discussion and engagement with the community is needed as the application goes forward. The creation of a powerful Impact Statement will be a key component of the City's presentation to the Toronto and East York Community Council. Parents were advised to allow the City to focus on problems with the development in terms of the Growth Plan and Official Plan, and to focus their feedback on the specific challenges for their school, children, and families. What are the pressures on and limitations of the school as it exists now? What kind of support and resources would the community need if the development goes ahead as planned?
We will continue to provide updates on this process as they become available, both on our website and our Facebook page.