Innovative Partnership with Municipality and Developer to Deliver New Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School in High-Density Development.
TORONTO—The Ontario government is investing $44 million to build the new Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School to help working families in Toronto. This historic investment to support families in urban communities in the City of Toronto through the Toronto District School Board, announced by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure, will create 455 student spaces as part of the Ford Government’s commitment to building modern, accessible, and technologically connected schools for Ontario youth.
The new school is an innovative project undertaken in collaboration with the school board and Menkes Developments. A podium school, the project is unique in Ontario and will create a school within a new mixed-use condominium project, providing more student accommodation for the lower Yonge and waterfront neighbourhoods. Once complete, the new school could be replicated as an innovative solution to meeting the education needs of working families in urban and high-density environments.
“With many families living in condos and high-density urban communities, we believe their children deserve access to modern and safe schools in the hearts of their communities,” said Minister Lecce. “I am proud to deliver this progressive urban school within a high-density condominium project. This innovative partnership will provide access for young families to a state-of-the-art school in the heart of Toronto.”
The project is part of a provincewide investment of more than $600 million to support new school and child care spaces that were recently announced by Minister Lecce. The overall investment will support 78 school and child care related projects. As part of this investment, the province dedicated more than $565 million to create more than 19,700 new student spaces and 1,500 child care spaces at schools across the province.
“The new Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School will be a great new addition to our city and will provide much-needed space for students. We know that in a growing city like Toronto, we need unique and creative approaches to creating important public spaces like schools. This new project between the provincial government and Menkes Development will bring the school right into the community at a new mixed-use condominium. If we want to build up this city and our neighbourhoods, we need to ensure that residents have access to all the services they need, including schools – this is one example of how we will achieve this,” said Mayor John Tory.
The investment is part of the Ontario government’s commitment to provide $14 billion to support school construction over 10 years. There are currently more than 300 child care and education building-related projects in development across Ontario with more than 100 actively under construction.
“Innovative infrastructure like the new Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School not only ensures the best learning environment for our children, it also helps us build more vibrant and resourceful communities. This is part of our government’s plan to invest more than $148 billion over the next 10 years to build schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, public transit, highways and other facilities families depend on,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure.
Ontario’s investment in new and updated schools will create the foundation for a modern learning environment for hundreds of students across the province. Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School will be located at Yonge and Harbour Street in Toronto.
“We are thrilled to build Canada’s first elementary school that is completely integrated within a high-density mixed-use development right in downtown Toronto,” said Stephanie Donaldson, Trustee, Ward 9, Davenport and Spadina – Fort York. “This is great news for students in the area and an exciting opportunity for the Toronto District School Board to shape an innovative urban school model that can be used across Ontario and Canada.”
More than $600 million has been allocated to support ventilation improvements in schools across Ontario to support a safer return to school. The Toronto District School Board has benefited from an investment of $65.8 million for ventilation improvements and has almost 16,000 HEPA filter units in place.
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In a first for the province — and believed to be unique in Canada — a “vertical school” will be built into the third floor of the project on Lake Shore Blvd. E., just east of Yonge St., the Star has learned.
The Ontario government is set to announce its $44 million contribution for the new school on Friday morning, a partnership between the province, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Menkes Developments.
Unlike its other schools, the board will not own the land, but rather the space it occupies in the building.
A child-care centre is in the works for the second floor, beneath the school, and both will have vestibule space on the main floor to help get the kids upstairs.
The school, temporarily named Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School, will house 445 students.
“With many families living in condos and high-density urban communities, we believe their children deserve access to modern and safe schools in the hearts of their communities,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement.
“I am proud to deliver this progressive urban school within a high-density condominium project. This innovative partnership will provide access for young families to a state-of-the-art school in the heart of Toronto.”
For years, the Toronto board has struggled with where to put new schools in densely populated neighbourhoods where land is either unavailable or unaffordable.
In 2016, the board began looking at vertical schools as an answer to serving such areas — the waterfront, Yonge-Eglinton or Yonge-Sheppard — where children are often bused to schools outside their neighbourhood.
The new school, which is expected to open in 2024, will have access to 2.47 acres of central, green space in the larger condo development where kids can play.
“We know that in a growing city like Toronto, we need unique and creative approaches to creating important public spaces like schools,” Mayor John Tory said in a written statement.
“This new project between the provincial government and Menkes Developments will bring the school right into the community at a new mixed-use condominium. If we want to build up this city and our neighbourhoods, we need to ensure that residents have access to all the services they need, including schools — this is one example of how we will achieve this.”
Local TDSB Trustee Stephanie Donaldson (Ward 9, Davenport/Spadina-Fort York) said “we are thrilled to build Canada’s first elementary school that is completely integrated within a high-density, mixed-use development right in downtown Toronto.”
She said, “This is great news for students in the area and an exciting opportunity for the Toronto District School Board to shape an innovative urban school model that can be used across Ontario and Canada.”
While the Toronto District School Board has already partnered with developers. In the case of North Toronto Collegiate in the Yonge-Eglinton area, it funded the redevelopment of the old building by selling off a portion of the schoolyard for condos.
The difference there, however, is that the board still owns the land the school sits on, and the condo was added on site.
Vertical schools have popped up around the world in big, space-strapped cities — New York has Spruce Street School which takes up four floors of a 76-storey apartment tower.
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