Saint John the Evangelist opening delayed, again

The St. John the Evangelist school opening will be delayed again. The new school, which was long overdue, was supposed to open in the fall of 2018; it will now open–hopefully–in time for students to return in September, 2019. 

Dave Bennett, who is running for trustee, says the delay is due to a legal dispute between the TCDSB and Metrolinx over the culvert; “Without these finalized agreements, culvert construction to replace the ditch between the school and the Metrolinx tunnel lid is on hold”.

 

Dave Bennett wants to be local trustee.

Dave Bennett outside the latest incarnation of St John the Evangelist Catholic School.

Dave Bennett is a busy man with deep ties to the Weston community. Apart from helping raise a family of four, he has been active as a volunteer in Weston for quite a while having been a member of the Weston Residents’ Association for many years and is now the chair. He is past president and current board member of the  Weston Heritage Conservation District, volunteers with Weston Minor Hockey, has coached house league for almost 15 years, has supervised a division for 9 and has been a VP for the past few years.

His role as a parent at St John the Evangelist Catholic School has now ended (his youngest child graduated last year) and  Dave is now community relations advisor to its Parent Council having been chair for many years. As a result of his knowledge and experience, he feels he can make a contribution in terms of  the way schools are run in York South Weston and has entered the race to become a school trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. When asked about his chances of winning, Dave feels that his chances are pretty good.  This is not a surprise considering that Mr. Bennett is used to achieving things in his life.

Dave says that the new school was long overdue and tells me that the old (now demolished) building was really two additions joined together. The original school at 23 George Street was added on to when more space was needed and later when enrolment increased, the older building was replaced with yet another addition. In later years the school needed twelve portables to accommodate students. The new building will be almost twice the size of the old one and will even have room for 36 day-care students. He modestly points out that many people are responsible for the new building’s existence, including former MPP Laura Albanese. He is obviously proud of the new school and easily rattles off facts and figures along with other details of its unique construction. At the moment, SJTE students are being accommodated a few minutes’ away at St Philip Neri on Beverly Hills Drive near Jane and Wilson.

He proudly points out that the new school field rests on a styrofoam base inside a giant concrete container covering the UP Express and GO Train tracks. The styrofoam helps reduce the load on the tunnel while not being deep enough for the field to float during heavy rains .

The new school playground over the UP Express and GO rail tracks can be seen in the upper middle of the image.

While his children are now too old to attend the new school, he feels some satisfaction in knowing that future generations of Westonians will enjoy the new facilities which will open in September 2019.

Getting back to his passion for hockey, Dave says his neighbours are always impressed by the timing of the Bennett annual backyard rinks, built following Farmers’ Almanac winter forecasts. Dave says that the Almanac hasn’t let him down yet. Based on their forecast, expect to see the family rink by mid-December at the latest.

 

The Humber building gets under way.

Today, on a beautiful warm September morning, a crowd gathered to witness the first stage in the building of The Humber, an Options For Homes condominium – a symbolic demolition of the existing buildings on the site. The location at 10 Wilby Crescent is on a spectacular site above the Humber and across from Weston GO Station. OFH, a non-profit corporation has constructed many such buildings in the GTA.

Options For Homes CEO Heather Tremain talks about the approval process for 10 Wilby.

A fair number in the crowd were future residents; I spoke to two excited purchasers; Cheyenne who will be moving from another part of Weston and Freddie, moving from North York. Both have bought 2 bedroom units in the building and are happy that they can purchase at a reasonable cost in such a natural location while being close to transit links.

Options for Homes CEO, Heather Tremain thanked Councillor Frances Nunziata for smoothing out obstacles to get the project under way and also for helping create a new parkette between The Humber and the existing Hickory Tree condos. It takes a lot of attention to detail to get a building project off the ground and this one was no exception.

Afterwards, a token demolition of existing buildings on the site took place.

Councillor Frances Nunziata reacts as Weston Village Residents’ Association Chair Dave Bennett takes an over-enthusiastic swing.

Heather Tremain tells me that the project is already 40% sold and upcoming sales events are heavily subscribed so it’s likely that most units will be sold by November. Money made from the sale of homes goes towards building new projects and subsidizing future homeowners.

One minor quibble; the city of Toronto wants to encourage affordable housing yet charged this project (run by a non-profit corporation) $850,000 in development fees. That seems wrong.

Huzzah! St John gets money for new school

St John the Evangelist now has the money for a replacement school! The super-duper fantastic announcement was made by Laura Albanese today. The province will be giving an additional $5 million, bringing the total to $11.5 million.

St John has been looking for a new school for several years. The present school is outrageously overcrowded, and the entire school has had to relocate near downtown to get away from the construction on the train lines. Staff and volunteers had been lobbying for quick approval of a new school so that it could be built while the train construction is ongoing; in the past, enough money had been announced for only an addition.

Dave Bennett, a vocal proponent of a new school and Chair of the School Advisory Council, said,

What a great day for families in Weston!

St. John the Evangelist Elementary School has received $5M of additional funding to replace our overcrowded school. This funding will allow our children to return to real classrooms (not portables), and to possible grass in the playground.

Dave Bennett, Lorretta Notten, Father Michael, Angelo Sangiorgio, Laura Albanese, Frances Nunziata, Frank D’Amico, Sal Piccininni, Stephen Lipskus, Michael Femia. Photo from Andrew Sullivan.