At the same time that Toronto’s Catholic school board is considering closing schools, it is asking residents of 30 townhomes to leave their homes so that it can build a new one.

Most of the residents of the land the board is trying to expropriate, near Bayview Avenue and Cummer Avenue, aren’t willing to go.

Thursday was the deadline to respond to an expropriation order the TDCSB sent out a month ago. Twenty-one residents have hired a lawyer to fight it.

Mary Chakkalackal is one of those who doesn’t want to move.

“Most of us are coming from different parts of the world and (have) chosen this place as our home,” she says. “The unfairness of it doesn’t sit well.”

David Zimmer, the MPP for Willowdale, says there are less extreme ways to resolve the issue.

“Expropriation is used in rarest of rarest situations and only after all other reasonable opportunities have been explored,” he added.

Mike Del Grande, Chair of the Toronto District Catholic School Bard, disagrees. “We’ve got to do (the right thing),” he said, “and that is put a local school in the local community.”

The new school would replace St. Joseph's Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School, which is on leased land nearby that it will be required to vacate in the next few years.

The board already proposed a three-storey building adjacent to the townhouses it is trying to expropriate, but that plan was rejected by the community.

The TDCSB says it has offered fair market value for the townhomes. It plans to spend about $30 million.

Under the province's Expropriation Act, a public agency can take property "for a purpose deemed to be in the public’s interest, even though the owner of the property may not be willing to sell it."

Board considers closures

Meanwhile, the TDCSB is struggling with low enrollment and has begun a review of nine schools in Etobicoke and some downtown as well. In total, 28 will be reviewed over the next few years for possible expansion or closure. Such reviews are common for school boards.

The schools that face possible expansion or closure are:

  • Senhor Santo Cristo
  • St. Luke
  • St. Bruno
  • St. Raymond
  • Holy Angels
  • Our Lady of Sorrows
  • St. Leo
  • St. Louis
  • St. Mark
  • Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
  • Sacred Heart
  • St. Bede
  • St. Gabriel Lalemant
  • Prince of Peace
  • St. Rene Goupil
  • The Divine Infant
  • Holy Redeemer
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • St. Matthias
  • St. Timothy
  • St. Luigi
  • St. Rita
  • St. Sebastian
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • St. Theresa Shrine
  • Blessed Trinity
  • St. Agnes
  • St. Gabriel

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness