NEWS May 15th, 2017

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Public meeting for John Fisher leaves questions unanswered

Parents not optimistic city, board and developer will meet their needs

BRIAN BAKER/STREETER THROWING SHADE: A model made by a John Fisher parent illustrates the size difference between the proposed condo at 18-30 Erskine Avenue.

A public meeting at North Toronto CI, May 3, has left parents of John Fisher Public School students with questions unanswered.

The North Toronto school will potentially be cast in the shadow of a 35-storey rental apartment building proposed at 18–30 Erskine Avenue. The development plan was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in August 2016, and the risk assessment report was released by Environmental Consulting Occupational Health.

Toronto District School Board spearheaded the Phase II assessment and the independent firm assessed there were low to medium risks facing children under the categories of diesel exhaust, indoor air quality, noise, vibration, pests, traffic, cranes, fire and psychosocial factors.

The school board also left parents with a survey to gauge just how much interest there was in busing students to Vaughan Road Academy, seven kilometres away.

But that’s not acceptable, according to parent Taylor Roberts who was in attendance at North Toronto CI. He was not optimistic all the parties — parents, city, school board and developer — would come to a consensus.

His 10-year-old son is in the French emersion program, which was the plan even before he was born. He is concerned they might have to pull their son out of the emersion program at the risk of losing it completely.

“This was not our idea. We moved here because we want to live in a dense way, and be close to the subway, and now your kids have to go on a bus,” he said, of the Vaughan Road Academy idea.

Ward 13 trustee Gerri Gershon confirmed Vaughan Road Academy was an option, but would only be entertained after the results of the survey come in, and eased fears that the school would be closed. Eleven other schools in the TDSB could also face similar development issues.

“If every single person decides to take their kid out of French emersion, I guess that would be a risk. But I think that’s not the case,” she said. “Parents want to hear that the school will be safe. As safe as we can make it.”

Developer KG Group, who has hired public relations firm Fleishman Hillard for assistance, told the 200 gathered in the auditorium of North Toronto Collegiate that they understand what they’re going through, and then rattled off examples of other schools in the city that have experienced development.

In an interview with Streeter, Katz re-affirmed his company’s belief they were meeting the community’s needs.

“We’ve taken our time to come back to the community because we’ve drafted a 700-page construction mitigation plan from CPMP,” he said. “It’s unprecedented in terms of its depth, its technology that it incorporates.”

Developer hoping for consensus

KG Group was the developer on 305 Roehampton Avenue, and was part of the group that sponsored the rebuild of the football field at Northern Secondary.

“I would like to believe that if people understood everything that was being done, and given the opportunity to carefully listen to each other, consensus could be achieved,” Katz said.

Still, that’s not good enough for parents like Roberts, who says he feels the 700-page document is meant to scare off the public.

“My conclusion, and it’s the conclusion of all of us here, substantively there are about 40 pages worth. It’s just a print dump. It’s not meant to be read,” he admitted. “There’s nothing in there that goes beyond the usual city environmental guidelines.”

ECOH’s risk assessment recommended that noise mitigation measures be put in place, including the moving of the playground to the east end of the school; installing double-paned windows that meet Sound Transmission Class ratings; building a boundary wall, 12-feet high, on the west side of the school.

Air monitoring for dust and diesel was another sticking point, where regular monitors were expected for particulate matter and nitrogen oxide.

ECOH concluded all risk mitigation measures should be supported through a co-operative plan, “whereby mitigation implementation and hazard control will be monitored by a credible third party”.

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