TDSB accepts $1 million deal to back off development fight

Lord Lansdowne Public School
The late morning sun shines down at the Lord Lansdowne Public School playground. A proposed building will block the morning sun. Carey Marsden/Global News

A proposed development would see a 22-storey building in the backyard of Lord Lansdowne Public School.

“That’s going to cast a shadow over the playground,” said parent Eve Schifman.

The Toronto District School Board looked at traffic and shadow impacts if a building was erected at the proposed site on Spadine Ave. A shadow would loom over the school’s playground from sunrise until about noon.

“It’s going to prevent the snow from melting and the ice from melting,” said Amy Furness, a parent and member of the school council. “Which is already an issue in terms of kids being able to use the playground.”

And it’s not just about shadows. Furness said there is a big concern about traffic and pedestrian safety, too.

“Residents from this building would have to be accessing the building through a laneway that runs right next to our school playground,” said Furness.

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“The chance of an accident happening as a kid is running to meet the school bell is pretty high, we think.”

That’s why parents, the City of Toronto and the TDSB were going to fight the development at an upcoming Ontario Municipal Board meeting. But recently it was learned that the TDSB backed out of the fight after it was offered $1 million dollars from Wynn Group of Companies.

“This is a settlement they cooked up with the developers without really talking to anyone directly affected,” said Furness.

Briony Glassco, who is the trustee for Ward 10 Trinity-Spadina, said the school board’s legal team looked at its chance of winning the fight.

“Looking at the history of the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board), the developments that have been approved in the area, and the city’s plan for density, this is not going to go through,” said Glassco.

Glassco said she sees the money as a lottery win for the school. The entire sum will go directly to Lord Lansdowne.  But she admits the deal speaks volumes about the bigger picture: the need for more revenue for schools.

“This speaks to a need for the city and the TDSB to sit down together and figure out a better way to make this work,” she said.

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Glassco said all one has to do is take a look at some of the playgrounds at the schools.

“See what kind of state those playgrounds are in and you can get an understanding of the need that we have to spend considerable time and money on improving them,” she said.

The City of Toronto is still planning to fight the development. Councillor Ceta Ramkhalawansingh of Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina said the particular development is not appropriate for the neighbourhood. Councillor-Elect Joe Cressy said  the city and the TDSB need to work together.

“If we have challenges with revenue, let’s explore other revenue options and work with the province,” said Cressy.  “Try to come to a better working relationship as the city, the school board and the province to do that.”

A spokesperson for the TDSB said there is currently a $3-billion maintenance and renewal backlog.

The proposal for the 70-metre highrise will go before the Ontario Municipal Board on Nov. 24.