Brick walls cracked and crumbled on Wednesday as crews started to demolish the former Sisters of Notre Dame convent near Kingston Road and Glen Manor Drive.
Closed by the Sisters in August 2013, the property at 750 Kingston Rd. was later purchased by the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Built in 1952, for decades the convent housed nuns who taught students at St. John, Notre Dame, Neil McNeil and more than 20 other schools across Toronto.
Virginia Barton, senior coordinator of capital projects for the TCDSB, said the board bought the property to enlarge the grounds of St. John Catholic, the elementary school next door.
“It’s a very small site,” said Barton. “We know we have some big needs.”
This fall and winter, the TCDSB will hire a consultant to speak with staff and parents at St. John to find out exactly what those needs are and come up with a site plan.
It could be another year before any work begins, she said.
In a letter to local residents about the demolition, local TCDSB trustee Angela Kennedy said that after the building is demolished, the grounds will be closed by a chain-link fence and gate. The contractor is expected to spray the site with water to control dust from the demolition work.
While there is no plan for the site yet, Kennedy said St. John could use a larger playground and more parking spaces. She also pointed out that there is no track or sports field at St. John, nor at the nearby Notre Dame high school .
It’s a separate issue and an idea for the longer term, but Kennedy said eventually she would like to consult board staff and school officials about the possibility of combining St. John Catholic and Notre Dame to a new building, one that would likely have shared common spaces.
Notre Dame already uses the third-floor classrooms at St. John.
Kennedy said she imagines Notre Dame would remain all-girls if a new combined school is built, since it’s the only single-sex Catholic board high school in the area.