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Province looks to build schools faster

By Randy Thoms Dec 11, 2023 | 3:44 PM

Three new classrooms are being added to St. Mary School in Fort Frances, September 8, 2023. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

The Ontario government wants to speed up the time it takes to build a new school.

It is putting forward a series of new measures to cut construction time in half.

Education Minister Steven Lecce says it is now taking four to seven years.

“Our government is taking new measures to ensure school boards are building schools in nearly half the amount of time it took before. Cutting down the timelines by nearly 50% through a transparent, accountable, clearer process that prioritizes shovel-ready projects so that we get schools built faster for Ontario families and for the children of this province,” says Lecce.

The measures include new reporting requirements for school boards to ensure project deadlines are met and a streamlined approval process.

The province will also support school boards operating schools in joint-use facilities or as shared-use sites where a school is part of a larger building with multiple users, such as a school within a mixed-use condominium.

Standardized building designs will also be considered.

“By using preapproved designs of schools already built to reduce the school board planning timelines and to mitigate scheduling delay,” says Lecce.

The province is also looking at how schools declared surplus by school boards are sold.

“The priority for this building will continue to be education first before a site is considered for other provincial priorities, be it long-term care or affordable housing. If a school board sells a property, the proceeds of that sale will be reinvested into their school board’s facilities to make sure they’re maintained and renewed,” says Lecce.

School boards will also have to dispose of surplus properties at fair market value.