On a typical weekday, a mass of students are scattered around Lake Shore Blvd. and Kipling Ave. in south Etobicoke. There are three schools are in the area: Humber College, Father John Redmond, and Lakeshore Collegiate, boasting over 9600 full time students between them. This number will jump in a couple of years with the Toronto Catholic District School Board confirming plans to build an elementary school on the southwest corner of Kipling and Lake Shore. By 2016, the small area will have a child care center, an elementary school, a high school, a college, and a nursing home.
Inevitably, the area is going to get much busier. With the help of institutions like Humber College, private business owners and the many local initiatives, there are more opportunities for people to find a reason to explore the neighbourhood. But as opportunities continue to flourish, some members of the community are concerned that the building might affect more than pedestrian traffic. Removing the vegetation at Kipling and Lake Shore could endanger wildlife, specifically songbirds.
“As the birds move north they’re looking for the next tree canopy to land in before they move on,” said Terry Jones, member of Friends of Sam Smith Park, or FOSS. “Habitat protection is really important, a lot of these woodland birds are disappearing at a fast rate.”
The new Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School will accommodate 519 students and construction is projected to be complete in 2016. The land will also be the location of the Humber College Welcome Centre. The construction on that building is projected to be complete by 2015. The new Humber building will house offices for student services – including the registration office, and human resources – for Humber College students.
Jones says he’s being realistic about the future of the land and he is hoping Humber College and the TDCSB will be willing to compromise to ensure the safety of the creatures living there. FOSS already approached Humber College about using bird friendly glass that would make birds less likely to crash into windows during their migration. Jones says he’s been working with Wanda Buote, principal of Humber’s Lakeshore campus, and other staff to get that included in the building plans.
“We’ve had good relationships with Wanda Buote, and the Humber staff has really done a lot of outreach in the community,” said Jones.
Buote is involved in several organizations in the community including LAMP Community Health Centre, the Lakeshore Grounds Committee, the South Etobicoke Transit Action Committee, and the Etobicoke Community Policing Liaison committee. She’s been part of the planning process for the Humber College Welcome Centre since she started as principal in 2009. Buote says both students and members of the community will benefit from the new building, which will have space for photos and artifacts exhibiting the history of the area. Many of the buildings on campus belonged to the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, and are currently used as classrooms.
“This job is very different because you can make a difference in the community,” said Buote. “There’s a lot of people in the community that have been looking for a place to store the history of this ground.”
With the increase in activity, the current transit infrastructure will have to support the pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Buote is currently working on a plan with the college to purchase land in the surrounding area so students will be able to park off site and shuttle busses would bring them on campus. The elementary school would share a driveway with the college to compensate for the small area of land.
The Holy Trinity elementary school is an amalgamation of two surrounding schools – Christ the King and St. Teresa. The existing schools have low enrollment or are in need of renovations.
“There are some financial incentives to building a larger school, and that means better programs for the students,” said Angelo Sangiorgio, Associate Director of Planning and Facilities at the TCDSB.
Sangiorgio says he thinks having an elementary school close to the college and high school is a great sign for the community, and that the TCDSB recognized this would be the case when they bought the property in 2009.
But some Humber students are experiencing issues with the schools that already exist around campus, specifically the high school, Father John Redmond.
“I notice high school students going into the cafeteria, and I think it’s unfair that they use the services we pay tuition for,” said Andre Apperley. He goes to Humber North for Broadcast and Radio Television student at Humber College, but has been to the Lakeshore campus to visit his girlfriend.
“For me though, in elementary school we weren’t allowed off the ground, so I can’t see that being an issue when the new school is built.”