Parents angered over TDSB property sell-off reports
Published Monday, November 19, 2012 10:11AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 19, 2012 12:38PM EST
Parents from at least one Toronto-area school reacted with anger and outrage Monday morning over reports that the TDSB Trustees were considering selling off school land to raise some much-needed funds.
At Warden Avenue Public school in Scarborough, parents were surprised and disapproving when told of a report suggesting more than half of the playground at their children’s school could be parcelled off for sale to developers.
"We grew up having a whole schoolyard, so why should we take it away from these kids?" one parent told CTV.
Another found it hard to imagine trustees approving such a proposal, while one parent simply said, "No, that's really unacceptable."
They were reacting to a published report that outlined a Toronto District School Board Trustees' plan to consider a proposal to sell parcels of land at 127 schools at a private meeting Monday night.
A total of 367 acres of land -- most of it on school properties in North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough -- could be offered for sale, according to the Toronto Star.
The potentially affected schools range in size from the 16-acre campus at Woburn Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, to the less-than-six-acre Rene Gordon Health and Wellness Academy in North York.
While some schools could see small parcels of their property offered to developers, others could see up to three-quarters put up for sale.
Trustees agreed to study the possibility of a sell-off in June, setting an unofficial target of a $100-million cash injection.
Since the Toronto Lands Corporation was incorporated in 2008, the TDSB subsidiary claims it has brought in $250 million through the sale and lease of surplus board property.
The highest-profile example is North Toronto Collegiate Institute, where school grounds were sold for $52 million to fund a refurbishment of the aging building. The school now shares space with a pair of condominium towers.
The TLC is currently listing less than 20 properties for sale or lease.
TDSB trustee for Etobicoke-Centre Chris Glover said the cash-strapped board is in a tough position.
"The problem for us is that the ministry's put our capital funding on hold," he told CTV Toronto, explaining that money is needed to repair and rebuild schools across the city.
"And they're saying until we come up with a plan -- which could involve, right now the recommendations would involve selling off playgrounds -- they're not going to release the money to rebuild those schools."
The estimated cost of the board's maintenance backlog is now pegged at close to $3 billion.
The TDSB came under fire in June after a report its exclusively-contracted Trade Council had over-charged for work.
Among the headline-grabbing revelations: $300 to place a pencil sharpener, $3,000 to install a single electrical outlet and $19,000 to erect a sign on a school’s front lawn.
The criticism was particularly heated in light of the board's struggle to overcome a $110-million budget shortfall.