Toronto’s waterfront is set to welcome Ontario’s first elementary school built inside of a condo building.
The Ontario government announced the project Friday as part of an effort to create more educational spaces in the downtown core.
“With many families living in condos and high-density urban communities, we believe their children deserve access to modern and safe schools in the hearts of their communities,” Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said.
The Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School will accept 455 students to their Yonge and Harbour streets location, with a completion date set for the 2024-25 school year.
In addition to an elementary school slotted on the third floor of the building, the City of Toronto has also secured space for a child care centre directly below it on the second floor.
“If we want to build up this city and our neighbourhoods, we need to ensure that residents have access to all the services they need, including schools – this is one example of how we will achieve this,” Mayor John Tory said.
The project has been in the works for seven years now, according to Toronto District School Board (TDSB) spokesperson, Ryan Bird.
“It's learning where you live,” he said.
With the latest numbers estimating about 13,000 people populating the waterfront’s Lower Yonge Precinct, Bird said community services like a public school will be essential.
The Ontario government is investing $44 million in the new project in partnership with the TDSB and Menkes Developments.
Like a condo owner, the TDSB shares joint possession of the building’s entire third floor with Menkes, Bird said.
While the vertical school is unconventional, Bird said there is an ongoing effort to make it feel like any other, equipped with a gym, a music room and a library.
“Yes, it's unique,” Bird said. “But then it's still just your average school and we want to make sure the students feel welcome.”
Once the school is complete, the province said it aims to replicate the vertical community in more high-density neighbourhoods in Ontario.