News   Jun 18, 2024
 135     0 
News   Jun 18, 2024
 289     0 
News   Jun 18, 2024
 438     0 

TDSB surplus property redevelopment

rdaner

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 25, 2007
Messages
5,284
Reaction score
19,623
Crombie chosen to find cash in surplus properties

JOHN LORINC

Special to The Globe and Mail

October 10, 2007

The cash-strapped Toronto District School Board has named former Toronto mayor David Crombie to head a new real estate corporation with a mandate to sell surplus land and squeeze more revenue out of dozens of school sites that are leased to community groups and private academies.

The board's decision is a "very progressive move" because it could generate cash from unused property and conceivably invest the proceeds in new hubs that combine schools and other community amenities like libraries and recreation centres, Mr. Crombie said in an interview. "For years, I've talked about bringing together public properties for multiple uses and this is a vehicle by which that could be done."

Mr. Crombie announced yesterday he is resigning from his post as president of the Canadian Urban Institute. He was also appointed recently by Ottawa to oversee talks on aboriginal land claims in the Caledonia area.

Across the city, the board has identified 99 saleable properties, including administrative buildings, warehouses, 61 leased or empty schools and 18 vacant sites.

The TDSB established the so-called Toronto Lands Corporation by a unanimous vote late last month. Mr. Crombie, who will become chairman of the corporation's board, is leading a search for five directors who will oversee the TLC alongside four school trustees. The interim CEO is Dino Chiesa, a prominent civil servant and real estate executive who currently serves as the chair of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Plans to set up such a body have been under way since last winter, when board officials tried to roll out a controversial strategy to close and consolidate Willowdale schools with an eye to using the proceeds to build larger, more modern facilities.

At the time, TDSB officials said the board's 41 Willowdale properties have an estimated value of $300-million.

That initiative, known as "Program Revitalization," met stiff resistance from parent and community groups concerned about school closings. Since then, however, the provincial government has commissioned real estate appraisals of dozens of board properties.

Some parents who have heard about the Toronto Lands Corporation remain skeptical about the TDSB's motives. Chris Glover, a Toronto father of two who is active with the Campaign for Public Education, is concerned that developers have set their sites on valuable board land and the new TLC will expedite the sale of empty schools. "When it's being done by an arm's length corporation, by the time the public is finding out, it will be too late."

Not so, says Etobicoke trustee Bruce Davis, who has been the driving force behind the strategy. "This is not about a fire sale of assets. This is not about selling off buildings to pay the operating budget."

He said putting a value on the assets would be pure speculation.

While the board has been spending more on capital improvements in recent years, Bruce Davis, a Liberal, says he's still embarrassed that the TDSB doesn't have the wherewithal to properly maintain its existing school buildings, especially when it also owns so much under-used real estate.

He said the board needs the services of a professionally managed real estate company that knows how to maximize leasing revenues and then "add value" to surplus properties by moving those parcels through the development approvals process.

The TLC would have to offer surplus properties to the City of Toronto, the three other school boards and a list of public agencies before soliciting offers from the private sector.
 
While I really like the initiative in concept I question how good the results could turn out on the ground in some cases. Demographics are constantly changing so how do you know "surplus" property will remain so down the road? The costs of going back could be astronomical. I do however like the idea of having fewer, better and more intensively used public "hubs".

It is time that many of the cities public agencies from the school board to the TTC start recognizing that they operate in a big city and hence have a real underutilized financial advantage in their real estate assets.
 
^ Absolutely. The public school board has many surplus properties and could sell many withouth running short of space, and while still having some surplus capacity built in to allow for future demographic shifts. Out of 99 vacant schools or vacant sites, surely at least half could be sold off.
 
Across the city, the board has identified 99 saleable properties, including administrative buildings, warehouses, 61 leased or empty schools and 18 vacant sites.

If they turned the empty schools into condos, where will they film DeGrassi? :p
 
DeGrassi will be converted into a long-term care facility.

But that will be an ingenious way to continue the franchise. The old fogies of DeGrassi Street. Or DeGrassi Senior Homes.
 
Funny Shon - but right on the money. Many of these sites should be set up for seniors housing. We're going to need a lot of it in coming years...

42

(I'd like to see some parkland retained at many of the school sites, as the grounds are often used for that now. Adding new residents to these sites will just add to the need for the green space.)
 
So instead of having the school as the centre of the neigbhourhood unit, as per Clarence Perry, it's going to be a nursing home. Perhaps in due time, a cemetary...

AoD
 
There was a very attractive and ingenious renovation of the old Alexandra School in uptown Waterloo. It was quite high-end and pretty successful. It's interesting going inside, since a number of the old school features were preserved. Also very unusual for a modern condo building are the extremely wide halls.
 
I'm reviving this thread as it seems an apt place to post @AlexBozikovic 's latest piece; one focused on the TDSB's surplus properties.


I certainly think the issue's Alex raises are important ones and worthy of discussion, as such, I applaud him giving them space in print.

We would differ on some of the details..............as to how the TDSB's plans might be better handled; though would be in complete agreement on:

The need to retain public ownership of most of these sites, wherever practical.
The need to retain existing building stock of architectural significance
The need for better design in new schools
The need to shift away from the provision of expensive, free parking for school staff.

****

On the latter, I think Alex overreaches w/the idea that the TDSB should abandon parking at its sites all together.

For reasons of accessibility, if nothing else, I expect some parking to be part of most TDSB sites.

However, parking should not be free!

I think a sensible solution here would be the board to turn its parking over to Green P (The Toronto Parking Authority), letting them charge teachers a fair market price for their parking, and make any surplus spots
available to the community (at market prices).

The logical follow-on being that any lot that can't produce a net profit will be shrunk/repurposed forthwith.

I've previously written to my trustee asking to to ditch free parking; but sigh, no luck.

But this must change.

****

On design in new schools; I think looking at Quebec where the government announced (I'm not sure if they delivered) a requirement that new schools be the subject of design competitions might be of interest.

****

On existing schools; I'm not certain what the City's authority is to designate what are arguably provincial buildings........If they have such authority, they should use it; if they do not, perhaps voluntary agreements
could be entered into; and the City could even cost-share some heritage restoration.

****

Lastly, in looking at school capacity, I believe we need to know what population projections are being used to assess future need.

Given that the City's growth has consistently exceeded provincial expectations in recent years; its important to have a sense of how many of those empty seats will be refilled by a City that may grow as much as 40% over the next 30 years.
 
Last edited:
Just bumping this thread because of the announcement today that the Province is fast-tracking surplus school sales for redevelopment. I say it is the perfect time! And across the Province not just Toronto (I’m looking at you Mississauga!) hopefully we will see beautiful repurposing of the well located heritage ones and thoughtful intensification of the more suburban ones located on side streets. Artscape must be licking its lips! 😝
36986268-A67D-4B18-9F15-DF7450759412.jpeg
 
Just bumping this thread because of the announcement today that the Province is fast-tracking surplus school sales for redevelopment. I say it is the perfect time! And across the Province not just Toronto (I’m looking at you Mississauga!) hopefully we will see beautiful repurposing of the well located heritage ones and thoughtful intensification of the more suburban ones located on side streets. Artscape must be licking its lips! 😝View attachment 470032

I'm actually not crazy about this.........let me share why.

Multiple Toronto schools, not one or two, but two dozen at least are well over 100% capacity.
Many more will soon trend that way.

Where are the schools that over capacity? Well, the east-downtown/corktown area is one, and there sits an an empty, 'surplus' former TDSB site at Shuter and Parliament.
That site is now owned by the TCDSB, which has thus far been unable to get funding for a new school there; meanwhile the TDSB gets to spend exorbitant sums building a new school down in the West Don Lands.

Similar situations already exist elsewhere in the City.

Sure, there are a small number of schools sites, perhaps a dozen, that have no reasonable prospect of being needed again in the next 30 years.

But virtually every remaining 'surplus' site either needs to re-opened now, or will within the next 10-20 years.
Buying back that land or building into a tower at 2x, 3x, or even 4x the cost of refurb'ing or replacing an existing building on public land is incredibly wasteful.

In addition, if there are sites that are not needed for schools and have no prospect of same, I first want to ensure the retention of any playing field and playground as a neighbourhood park.
The City is desperately short of playing fields to the point where teams are asked to play on fields up to 1 hour away from their local/preferred neighbourhood.

I certainly don't want to see sites are unutilized, or grossly under utilized, with no foreseeable change in same, wasting away; but neither do I want to see them sold off willy nilly, to the highest bidder.
 
Last edited:
Doug Ford destroying this province one day at a time by taking control over things that don't need to be taken control over.

We've seen how this non-sense plays out to an extent during the Mike Harris years where municipalities were essentially forced to sell off school property since he hacked their budgets to the point that school boards and cities had no other option. But now Ford is taking it to the extreme by literally forcing boards to sell lands which is deemed "surplus" to his developer and long-term care home buddies.

Why the province is interfering with municipal school land is really beyond me and is another example of his government overstepping its boundaries simply because they feel like it. That and also so they can benefit "stakeholders" (ie: specific developers and long-term care home partners).

It's been pretty well documented over the years that surplus school land isnt really surplus, because population gets redistributed every couple decades to the point that school boards explore re-opening certain properties where previous enrollment declined substantially. Clearly his government doesnt understand that concept (entirely plausible with the various idiots holding office), or are ignoring that because they wont have to deal with it in 10+ years since they'll be long gone and will have already profited from the scheme. I'm pretty much done mincing words with how this crook government operates and have no problem calling them out on their idiotic policies which have become more overreaching with each successive government bill they put out.
 
The Lily option appears to have beenI'm actually not crazy about this.........let me share why.

Multiple Toronto schools, not one or two, but two dozen at least are well over 100% capacity.
Many more will soon trend that way.

Where are the schools that over capacity? Well, the east-downtown/corktown area is one, and there sits an an empty, 'surplus' former TDSB site at Shuter and Parliament.
That site is now owned by the TCDSB, which has thus far been unable to get funding for a new school there; meanwhile the TDSB gets to spend exorbitant sums building a new school down in the West Don Lands.

Similar situations already exist elsewhere in the City.

Sure, there are a small number of schools sites, perhaps a dozen, that have no reasonable prospect of being needed again in the next 30 years.

But virtually every remaining 'surplus' site either needs to re-opened now, or will within the next 10-20 years.
Buying back that land or building into a tower at 2x, 3x, or even 4x the cost of refurb'ing or replacing an existing building on public land is incredibly wasteful.

In addition, if there are sites that are not needed for schools and have no prospect of same, I first want to ensure the retention of any playing field and playground as a neighbourhood park.
The City is desperately short of playing fields to the point where teams are asked to play on fields up to 1 hour away from their local/preferred neighbourhood.

I certainly don't want to see sites are unutilized, or grossly under utilized, with no foreseeable change in same, wasting away; but neither do I want to see them sold off willy nilly, to the highest bidder.

Northern, I recall an interactive map, maybe the Toronto Star, that had every TDSB school and its current capacity. Do you recall?

Edited for spelling.
 
Last edited:

Back
Top