TDSB properties worth millions sit vacant
The Toronto District School Board is struggling with a budget deficit but the board holds hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property not being used, prompting questions about what they are doing with it.
Ninety-nine school buildings owned by the TDSB are closed or vacant. More than half - 54 -- are leased out while nothing is happening at the others. Keeping the rest of the properties costs the school board $40 million a year.
If the properties were sold it could put $662 million into the board's stretched budget.
"This is a waste of tax dollars and it's also money that should be going directly into student's programs," trustee Josh Matlow said Tuesday.
Buildings in use by the school board also need repairs, something which the TDSB admits it has been addressing with so-called band-aid solutions because the cash is not on hand.
Education Minister Kathleen Wynne says it is not her place to tell the board what to do with their real estate, despite last year's $82 million budget deficit.
She said selling the real estate would only provide the board with "one time money" which would be difficult to use for on-going operations.
"But at the same time, I agree ... that there is a large capital asset, the board needs to look at that property and make it work for the kids in the city," Wynne said.
The school board is looking for creative solutions to the problem of aging buildings.
North Toronto Collegiate Institute was one building that needed repair. With a creative partnership, a new building will be constructed and the taxpayer will not get the full bill.
The school board teamed-up with a private investor who bought a portion of the school. Two residential condominiums will be built on the property and the developer will also build a new, environmentally friendly school with an auditorium and a sports field.
"This is a solution that I think should be a template for other projects in the future," Matlow said.
Board officials view the partnership as a way to deal with problems that are not going away any time soon.
At the same time, a school board official told CTV News that a number of buildings may go on the market later this year.
With a report from CTV's Galit Solomon