Ward 1 candidate Russell Ott sent out this press release today outlining, what he thinks, may be an overlooked issue in his Ward - the amount of school space in the area. It's interesting to be sure, and maybe one of the facets of the Woods redevelopment that has not yet been fully thought through in the rush to get building on the site? Read on to learn Ott's thoughts.
KEEPING AN EYE ON THE SCHOOL-AGE POPULATION
As a candidate for Ward One in next week's election, I have spent many hours visiting residents of the ward and getting familiar with the issues. Number one for most people living in the old St. Patrick's Ward (fondly known as “ the ward” ), is the future of the W.C. Wood plant. There is much still unknown about the proposed development in this area bounded by Arthur Street, Elizabeth Street, Cross Street and the river. However, one thing is certain. Residential dwellings will be built on this site. This will mean increased density for the area and, with increased density, will come more families and children.
While not directly a concern for a city councillor, I keep thinking about the potential number of families who will call the ward home in a few years. Where will the children of these families go to school? Traditionally, there has been only one school in the ward – Tytler School. However, this venerable institution is slated to close in 2012 when the new King George is completed. Was a projected increase in population taken into account when this decision was made? Will all the children living in the ward have to climb the hill to King George? Even the kindergarten children who live on York Road? Will some of these children have to be bused? I think it would be a disaster to close Tytler at this time, knowing there could be a large group of students living on the Wood site. We need to be open to alternatives to accommodate this increase in school-age population.
I don't think these students can be successfully dispersed to other city schools. The east end cannot support additional students. A sign posted for the Watson Creek Phase 3 development warns that students moving into this area may be shipped to other schools as Ken Danby/Holy Trinity may not have the capacity to support expected growth. Besides, if there is sufficient population in the ward to warrant a school, we should have one there.
In sending this release to the media, I just want to make it known to the residents of the ward and the downtown area that I plan to investigate this situation when elected.