Dear Ms. Jackson and Dr. Browne:
Re: Requests for access to City space for return to school plans
I'm writing in response to recent requests to the City of Toronto from the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board for access to City space as part of your respective board's reopening plans. As you are aware, we have been working with your staff to identify a number of community centres, libraries, museums and other cultural centres that could be made available to both boards should that be your requirement for your back to school plans.
Using search parameters identified by the Boards – namely, day time availability, appropriate-sized instructional spaces, access to dedicated washrooms and access to adjacent green space – City staff have identified 24 facilities and 36 rooms that could be made available on September 8th. Your Board's use of these spaces is not expected to cause displacement of City programming and permitted uses this fall.
Staff have identified additional facilities and community program spaces that meet the identified criteria, but could only be made available if the City were to cancel City-delivered programs, senior’s activities, arts, cultural and heritage activities, youth programming and the provision of important space to community agencies and organizations. Additional due diligence is required to better understand the overall impacts on recreation and cultural services within the context of your identified need.
Similarly, the Toronto Public Library has identified potential locations within its facilities. There are a total of 9 spaces within 7 library locations, as well as an additional 9 library branches that could be offered entirely for exclusive use by the boards, by keeping the branches closed to the public. The exclusive use of the 9 library branches will require approval from the Toronto Public Library Board, which staff will be seeking later this week. I am also pleased to say that the City’s parks are available for the types of flexible uses requested by your staff to enable outdoor instruction, outdoor play and physical activity for students without the requirement of a City permit. City staff are prepared to have
discussions with the boards on which parks would be most helpful.
If both boards wish to pursue accessing City spaces it is now necessary that you provide the City with certainty around the number of such facilities and spaces in order to advance these discussions. It would also be necessary for both boards to determine how the City’s available spaces would best be allocated.
As a next step, City staff are prepared to meet with your representatives to discuss specific terms and conditions of use that will be required in order to expedite the formalization of this arrangement, including duration and the requirement that all costs incurred by the City to support operational, cleaning and security costs will be fully recovered from both boards. The City remains an engaged partner and I am pleased to be able to offer this support to assist you in safely returning students to school.