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Free family drop-in program axed at 2 Toronto schools over lack of space

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Author: 
News staff
Publication Date: 
6 Jun 2019
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A provincially-funded drop-in program that supports young families is being axed at two downtown public schools because of a lack of space, with some blaming poor planning in the face of rapid population growth.

This week a letter went home with parents alerting them that Niagara Street Junior Public School and Blake Street Junior Public School will no longer be offering the free EarlyOn service due to the need for more classroom space.

Right now there are nearly 300 EarlyOn Centres across Toronto, with 77 located at Toronto District School Board (TDSB) schools.

The program offers a supportive environment for new parents, young families and caregivers and offers activities for children under the age of six that put an emphasis on healthy growth and development.

Stephanie Violin has been taking her toddler-aged daughters to the Niagara street location since they were born.

She worries the city’s rapid growth is a factor.

“There’s like four new condos going up in Liberty Village,” she said. “There’s new families moving in here all the time. Where are they going to put these needed programs?”

Violin says parents are being directed to another centre 600 metres away, but she adds that the location is often already at capacity.

The Niagara street location falls under Councillor Joe Cressy’s ward.

Cressy says spacing issues will likely intensify over the coming years now that the Ford government rewrote Toronto’s development plan for midtown and the downtown core, allowing taller buildings.

Developers are also no longer mandated to add social infrastructure, like schools and green space, although it is encouraged.

Cressy tells CityNews he’s working with the TDSB to find a new location for the EarlyOn program in the immediate area and will use city space if necessary.

“This is yet another example of why you need to ensure that you don’t just add density, but you also add the infrastructure to make it livable,” he said.

Violin fears her neighbourhood is now seeing the consequences of the city’s rapid growth spurt.

“This is just one program that they are closing, in the future how many more will they continue to close?”

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Entered Date: 
12 Jun 2019
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