Central Tech dome plan may limit community access to green space

Dennis Hanagan –

The Toronto District School Board is still waiting to hear if it will be allowed to issue permits for public use of the playing field at its Central Tech high school.

The city’s Committee of Adjustment (COA) was to rule on the matter Jan. 22 but granted a 3-month deferral after considering a letter from Trinity-Spadina Councillor Adam Vaughan whose Ward 20 includes the school.

Central Tech's field

Central Tech’s field

Vaughan doesn’t like a board plan that would upgrade the field with artificial turf and in winter place a dome over it.

The school is a heritage-designated building, but Vaughan is proposing a reassessment of the school and the field together for their combined heritage value.

Prime minister Sir Robert Borden laid the cornerstone of the school’s main building in 1913, and during the Second World War Canadian men and women were trained there in wireless operating, aircraft mechanics, and tank repair.

TDSB chair Chris Bolton said in an interview that board lawyers attended the COA meeting to ask that the board be allowed to issue permits for groups to use the field.

He noted the field also serves as a centre for track and field and major events put on by other schools in the area because, other than the one to the south at Ryerson Community School, it’s full size.

“Right now it’s in very bad repair and constantly having to be re-sodded,” Bolton said.

Along with the artificial turf, the track and bleachers would be upgraded. Bolton said the entire project is hoped to be in place by Sept. 1.

Vaughan wrote in a recent newsletter to constituents that many area residents have raised concerns about the board’s dome and permit plan. “We have heard concern that the public’s free accessibility to the green space in the community will be permanently restricted.”

“Only those who are able and willing to pay will have access to this important common area: this is essentially privatization of public space,” the councillor wrote.

“In addition, installing a turf field over one of the largest green spaces in the neighbourhood will create a heat island effect, and drainage problems may occur with storm water run-off.”

“Installing a dome over the field in winter months will create a visual barrier on Bathurst St. and block views of a historically significant building,” Vaughan wrote.