Education Development Charges (EDCs) are funds that school boards can spend on new developments. The current regulation establishes that EDCs can be used to purchase land for future school sites, not to support the cost of building new schools or renovating existing ones.
The City of Toronto’s population has increased from 2.6 million in 2006 to 3.0 million in 2019 and is expected to increase to 3.7 million by 2046 (Ministry of Finance, Ontario Population Projections Update, 2019-2046, Summer 2020).
Residential development is a significant contributor to the population growth, resulting in substantial pressure on critical public infrastructure serving the area, such as local schools, public transit and roads.
Between 2015 and 2019 approximately 93,000 residential units were built in the City of Toronto. A further 290,000 residential units are forecast to be built over the next 15 years, which could generate approximately 27,000 new students.
While other school boards in Ontario are allowed to collect EDCs, the TDSB does not qualify because it has excess capacity when assessed on a district-wide basis, regardless of significant capacity pressures and challenges faced in many neighborhood schools. This puts the TDSB at a disadvantage.
Questions & Answers
Why can’t the TDSB access EDCs?
In order to qualify for EDCs, a school board must show that the number of students that it needs to accommodate is larger than the space available on a district-wide basis, regardless of its inability to accommodate students in schools in specific neighborhoods. Many of our schools are over capacity as a result of significant residential intensification in certain areas but the TDSB has excess capacity in other areas.
EDCs are a critical funding tool that would help the TDSB to meet growth-related infrastructure needs. In order for the TDSB to be able to access EDCs, Ontario Reg. 20/98 needs to be amended.
How would EDCs help the TDSB improve its schools?
Lack of sufficient space in local schools in some areas of the City has forced the TDSB to adopt different accommodation strategies for managing enrolment growth, including redirecting students from new residential developments to other TDSB schools located outside the area, the use of portables, and program and school boundary changes.
Without the restrictions found in Section 10 of Ontario Reg. 20/98, the TDSB would qualify for EDCs and generate revenue of approximately $500 million over the next 15 years, which will help us meet growth-related infrastructure needs (estimate based upon the rates charged by the Toronto Catholic District School Board in their EDC by-law as of December 2018). However, access to EDCs won’t replace the need for a new provincial funding strategy to reduce our Renewal Needs Backlog and maintain and operate our schools.
The TDSB brought a legal challenge to access EDCs, which was heard by the court March 2021. The Ontario government was supported by BILD, an association of land developers in Ontario, an Intervenor in the case. TDSB is disappointed with the Divisional Court’s decision to uphold the government’s right to deny the TDSB access to development charges. The TDSB is reviewing the decision and will be considering an appeal. TDSB Chair Alexander Brown said the Board will continue to use all means at its disposal to advocate for TDSB’s fair access to EDCs.
What is the TDSB advocating for?
The TDSB is advocating for the Ontario Government to amend the Education Development Charges Regulation (Ontario Reg. 20/98) under the Education Act to allow the TDSB to collect EDCs to help support urgent school infrastructure needs and reduce overcrowding in high-growth areas of the City. In addition, the TDSB is asking to expand the definition of “education land costs” to include construction costs for new buildings and other costs to meet growth-related infrastructure needs such as additions and renovations to existing schools.
Groups such as Fix our Schools have joined forces with school boards to advocate for additional provincial funding. Recognizing that schools are key to strong and vibrant communities, the City of Toronto has also asked the provincial government to amend the existing regulation to allow the TDSB to collect EDCs from developers.