An update on Central Tech

Ward 20 City Councillor Joe Cressy, Ward 19 City Councillor Mike Layton, and TDSB Ward 10 Trustee Ausma Malik released the following open letter today to area residents updating them on the status of the field at Central Technical School.

Download the letter here.

Read the letter content below:

January 2015

Dear residents;

As many of you know, the debate surrounding the future of the sports field at Central Technical School (‘Central Tech’) has been an ongoing source of concern for many members of the community, and a defining issue of the recent municipal election for many area residents.

An inaccessible school field bound up in costly court and OMB challenges is unacceptable. The proposed dome and artificial turf replacement has left area residents concerned about neighbourhood impacts, including increased traffic and parking demand, noise, constraints on community access, loss of green space, and the privatization of public spaces.

As your City Councillors and public school board Trustee we re-affirm our commitment to work together through a partnership to restore a playing field for students, preserve neighbourhood green spaces, and arrive at a solution that works for all parties. Last summer, Mike Layton and former Ward 20 Councillor Ceta Ramkhalawansingh proposed to use ‘Section 37’ community benefit funds and private donations to remediate the field; that proposal remains on the table, with the possibility of identifying additional funds

There is some confusion in the neighbourhood about the status of the field - here is some key background information:

In 2013, the TDSB and Razor Management Inc. introduced a plan to replace Central Tech’s grass field with an artificial-turf sports field, which would be covered by a dome almost six months a year, and operated by Razor Management Inc. In March 2014, the application for zoning variances was refused at the Committee of Adjustment.

The TDSB brought an application to Superior Court seeking a determination by the Court that the proposal complied with the zoning by-law exception, and that no variance was necessary. The Superior Court agreed with the City that the proposal does not fit within the exemption, and the TDSB's application was dismissed. The TDSB appealed that decision to Divisional Court, who again agreed with the City, and the appeal was dismissed in September. Having lost at the COA and twice in the courts, the TDSB is now continuing its appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board, where mediation will soon begin between the TDSB, Razor Management, the City, and local community organizations.

Despite the ongoing challenges to the idea, and opposition from newly elected Trustees due to take office only a few days later, on November 26, the outgoing school board signed a contract with Razor Management to go forward with the project that would see it operate as for-profit field outside of school hours.

Razor has also recently submitted a proposal to the city that would see the field used only for ‘education and teaching’ purposes, but still includes the same plan for a domed, artificial playing surface, however City staff have since closed the file.

It is important to understand that despite the contract between TDSB and Razor Management, construction cannot begin before the OMB renders a decision, or the City, the TDSB, and the community reach an agreement. We believe that, despite the current state of affairs, a solution can be found that suits the needs of the students at Central Tech, and the community that surrounds the school. As Councillors Cressy and Layton wrote to Director of Education Donna Quan and Associate Director of Education Carla Kisko, in a letter dated November 19:

We want to work with the TDSB to find the best possible solution for the students of Central Tech. They deserve a professional-quality field. We believe that by working together, we can provide that field in a way that serves the needs of all community members, which includes our students.

As this issue moves through the lengthy OMB process, the costs are accumulating quickly for all parties, and the students of Central Tech face the very real possibility of having no playing field until 2016. This is not in the best interests of the TDSB, the community, or most importantly, the students of Central Tech. We believe an agreement can be reached sooner by working together.

As we work with City staff through the negotiations around Central Tech, we remain committed to the idea of finding a result that meets the needs of everyone involved. As we work with City staff through the negotiations around Central Tech, we remain committed to the idea of a partnership that restores the field at Central Tech, preserves important green space, and serves the needs of the community and school.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Joe Cressy                                                           
City Councillor                                                       
Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina                        
joecressy.com   

[signed]

Mike Layton
City Councillor
Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina
mikelayton.to

[signed]

Ausma Malik
TDSB Trustee
TDSB Ward 10, Trinity-Spadina
tdsb.on.ca/ward10

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