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article imageClosed Ontario schools may be revived as new 'community hubs'

By Nate Smith     Aug 10, 2015 in Business
With nearly 20 percent of its school buildings at risk of closure, the Toronto District School Board is considering a plan that would transform underutilized buildings into publicly accessible community centers.
According to a proposal released Monday, public agencies and non-profits may be able to purchase empty, or otherwise unused school buildings at below market value, and transform those buildings to meet public needs such as long-term care facilities or nursing clinics.
Public property is hard to come by all over Ontario, and especially Toronto, and even though there are more school buildings than students to fill them, government officials are reluctant to sell off the properties to private buyers in the face of needs for other public services.
In some regions of Ontario, an empty, former school building may be the only public property to be found, and often times self-edifying classes like cooking or Tai Chi courses are staged inside the former schools.
In the mean time, public bodies will be given 180, rather than just 90, days to develop plans to revitalize the public buildings for future use.
In January, the Toronto District School Board unveiled a list of over 100 school sites that face closure, and board members remain under a great deal of pressure to consolidate school district and sell off the properties to private interests.
In February, the board voted to undergo a three-year study of currently underutilized schools in an effort to decide how to proceed with the buildings going forward.
A new system would also allow the school district to reconsider which uses are considered when deciding whether or not a building is, "underutilized."
For buildings that double as daycare centers or pediatric clinics, that could save them from being considered for being shut down altogether.
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