“Accidents happen all the time”: Parents explain why they don’t want an apartment tower built next to their kids’ school

“Accidents happen all the time”: Parents explain why they don’t want an apartment tower built next to their kids’ school

A raucous dispute is unfolding just north of Yonge and Eglinton, where KG Group, a housing developer, is building a 35-storey rental apartment tower. The development site is directly to the west of John Fisher Junior Public School, and parents of the students there have grown concerned that all the construction will create a variety of problems for their kids. The tower already has zoning approval, but many John Fisher families want it stopped—or, failing that, for their kids to be moved to other schools. Parents and students have been protesting for months.

Earlier this week, the Toronto District School Board held a meeting to present a risk assessment it commissioned. The report, prepared by a consultant, concludes that John Fisher will be safe for students during and after construction as long as the school makes some preparations. The parents in attendance weren’t convinced. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Christina Pamparo

38, lunchroom supervisor from Yonge and Eglinton, with David (grade six) and Dominic (grade one)

“I think the learning will be disrupted with the noise and all the dust and everything that’s around. And not just during the building process but after, because it’s a really high building. My personal concern is, after it’s built, will there be a lobby or a patio for the people to go outside and they can see the kids? Those people will see the kids outside, and I’m just concerned for the safety of my kids.”

Vlad Urukov

37, engineer from Yonge and Eglinton

“We’ve all walked by construction sites and we know about the noise, the traffic, the vibration, the dust. I personally feel like students playing in a playground is different than passers-by. I think they deserve more attention. What we’re asking for is the right type of construction. We’re opposing what’s illogical, what doesn’t make sense, and what puts our kids at risk.”

Maria Cristina Cuervo

Professor from Yonge and Eglinton

“You don’t want crazy growth. You want communities. That’s why so many people like living here. Good planning is good for everybody. It’s good business, while bad planning is bad business.”

Rhiannon Da Costa

48, physician from Mount Pleasant

“Their lungs are still developing and the construction is going to fill the air with dust and all sorts of things. One of my biggest concerns is the heavy equipment and the trucks coming in and around. I’ve had a child who was almost hit by a dump truck, so I’m not very thrilled by those kind of things. Accidents happen all the time, so we’re concerned about use of cranes. And the idea of having balconies facing the school is upsetting, not only because things could blow off the balconies, but also because who knows who’s living there and staring at and having access to the kids?”

Reneta Hadjianguelova

43, real estate agent from Yonge and Eglinton

“Even if it were a regular building, it would still be a concern—but, because it’s way too high and way too close, it’s even more of an issue. Being a real estate agent, I know the value of property, but this is crossing the line.”

Catherine Jarmain

48, public policy worker from Yonge and Eglinton

“Everyone’s concerned about the health and safety of the children going to school in a construction zone. There’s traffic, there’s dust, there’s noise, there’s vibration, there’s asbestos, there’s lead, there’s a lack of sunlight. It’s a real detriment to the overall learning environment and it’s causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety among our children. There’s an unelected, unaccountable Ontario Municipal Board and we don’t have a say in what’s happening in our communities. The system needs to be changed so that we all have more say.”

Rebecca Langstaff

41, provincial government worker from Yonge and Eglinton

“I’m all for density. I live in a condo right across the street from here. But there needs to be a balance, and it needs to be smart development. There are places where a condo building or a residential tower that’s 32 storeys is appropriate—but not right beside a school.”

Naomi Wong

48, event coordinator from Yonge and Lawrence

“It’s a huge danger. Health and wellness is essential for a sense of community, and this is destroying it. It’s saying to all these children that money is more important than their lives and their livelihood, and it is not right.”

Taylor Roberts

Business manager from Yonge and Eglinton

“We’re not about blocking development, but rather about having smart development. This project has been in the works since 2013. It really was not well planned, and there’s a lot of documentation for that, and that’s why many parents are upset.”

Correction

May 5, 2017

Because of an editing error, this post originally said, incorrectly, that KG Group's development site is to the east of John Fisher Junior Public School. In fact, the site is to the west.