Tuesday, January 25, 2011

West Toronto C.I., For Sale $21.5 million?

Vive le West Toronto CI   by TIM FORAN  Inside Toronto

French public board to buy high school for $21.5 million

A west end high school closed since last summer will likely be sold to the French public school board for more than $20 million, if trustees at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) give the go ahead to the sale at their next board meeting.

TDSB staff are recommending the board declare the 38-year-old West Toronto Collegiate Institute and the 8.5-acre property it sits on surplus for sale. The Brockton-area school, located on Landsdowne Avenue just north of College Street, closed in August after years of declining enrolment.

According to provincial regulation, the TDSB's French counterpart, the Conseil Scolaire Viamonde, has first right to buy the property for fair market value and it has stated its intention to do so. A third-party to the two school boards has assessed the value of the school site at $21.4 million, according to a memo from the Toronto Lands Corporation, the TDSB's realty arm.

Following the sale, the TDSB intends to lease back a large chunk of the third floor of the high school to use for continuing education programs, a proposal for which the French board has expressed support, according to a staff report. Adult ESL programs will run weekdays and other community programs, yet to be determined, will be offered to seniors two days a week and to the community one evening a week. The continuing education space will be dedicated to the TDSB and there will be a designated entrance to ensure safety and security of the French school's students.

The use of West Toronto for continuing education programs is intended to be a short term solution however. TDSB staff are recommending the board explore the creation of a long-term location as part of its redevelopment of its schools at Bloor Street and Dufferin Avenue. The TDSB owns three schools in that area - Kent Senior Public School, Bloor Collegiate Institute, and the former Brockton High School and Stadium - though the board has already approved the closure of Kent. The TDSB intends to generate cash by redeveloping the property, leaving one high school of 1,200 students on the property, perhaps on the site of Brockton H.S.

The French school board has also indicated it will allow the community access in non-school hours to the West Toronto building and playfield through its permit system.

The TDSB staff report is scheduled to go before the board's planning and priorities committee Wednesday, Jan. 26 and to the full board for a final decision February 9. Visit www.tdsb.on.ca for more information.
Now my only question: Why didn't we hear about this from either Councillor Ana Bailao or School Trustee Maria Rodrigues? As usual, no notice to residents like me who live right across the street. sigh.

* Update: Tweet from Ana 10 am Jan27: "@Ward18AnaBailao Sorry to hear of West Toronto Collegiate sale. Significant loss to our area. Space must continue to serve local groups link

My response tweet was to point out that Ana should lease constituency space there, since it has excellent disabled access, is centrally located within the ward, and has community buses and great TTC access from a number of directions. It also has great facilities to hold town halls!