Consider Schools When Buying In a New Neighbourhood

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Growing Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver have seen a dramatic shift towards vertical living in recent years. As land becomes increasingly scarce, glass towers are cropping up all over the place to accommodate the ballooning population and the corresponding need for real estate.

The resulting increase in density puts pressure on local infrastructure – with everything from roads to transit systems to hospitals struggling to absorb the increased traffic.

However, one crucial area that is often overlooked is the impact on schools. As certain pockets of the city grow, that often leaves local schools scrambling to find spaces for all the kids.

Take, for example, Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton area, where condo towers have been shooting up in recent years, bringing with them an influx of young families. Many schools in the area are operating either close to or over capacity.

According to a chart posted on the TDSB’s website, Davisville Junior Public School and Spectrum Alternative School is currently operating at 115% of its built capacity. By 2020 that figure is expected to rise to 13%, at which point three additional classrooms will be needed to accommodate the students.

The Toronto District School Board has launched what it calls the Long-Term Program and Accommodation Strategy, which will see it undertake a number of projects and studies to respond to some of these concerns.

In the meantime, however, here a few things for parents to consider when shopping for Toronto real estate in a developing neighbourhood.

Catchment Areas May Change

If you’re thinking of choosing a particular home over another one because it’s in the catchment area for a highly coveted school, make sure you do your research first. If the school is facing an overcrowding problem, the boundaries for the catchment area could end up shifting. The result? Your child may end up in a different school in a neighbouring catchment.

In some cases, if nearby schools are also full, you children may have to get bussed to a completely different part of town every day.

Look into whether the neighbourhood is in a high growth area. If it is, that puts it at a high risk for overcrowding. Reach out to someone at the school to see whether it’s operating over or near its built capacity and, if so, what that might mean for future students.

Don’t Fixate Solely on Crowding

…Because under-crowding is an issue, too.

While some schools are bursting at the seams, others are facing the opposite problem. In certain areas of the city the average age of residents is climbing, leaving enrollment at local schools dwindling.

The TDSB is currently in the midst of public consultations to explore the possibility of closing five schools that it says are being underutilized – including Vaughan Road Academy, which was once attended by world-famous rap superstar Drake.
So, when scoping out potential homes, take a look at nearby schools to see if any are currently under review or slated for closure.

Check Out Rankings

The Fraser Institute has a school rankings website that rates schools based on how well its students are scoring on provincial tests. It’s a great way to scope out potential schools. Scholarhood is also a great resource for locating schools within the boundaries of your current or desired neighbourhood.

Have you made a real estate decision based on schools in the area? Tell us about your experience in a comment, or visit us on Twitter.

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