The Ontario government is introducing new measures to build modern schools faster that will cut construction timelines by nearly 50 per cent to meet the unprecedented pace of growth across the province. In Ontario, the average school construction timeline is 4-7 years, which comes from an obsolete capital process that has not been meaningfully overhauled since 2010-11.
For the first time, Ontario will ensure school boards are building schools in nearly half the amount of time it took before through a faster, transparent, accountable and clearer process that prioritizes shovel-ready projects. School boards will follow a more streamlined process to identify and dispose of unused property, generate more revenue to reinvest back in schools, create schools in mixed-use buildings like condominiums and use existing buildings in their communities.
“As our government delivers on our promise to Build Ontario, ease the housing crisis and meet the expanding population need, it is vital that students have access to modern schools close to home,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “It is no longer acceptable for schools to take a decade to be built, and that is why we are reforming the way schools are built by working with school boards to speed up the construction through design standardization, reduced approval requirements and increased transparency and accountability to ensure value for taxpayer dollars.”
The strategy overhauls the development, planning and building of schools so projects can be completed faster for the benefit of families in growing communities. Key reforms include:
Prioritizing shovel-ready projects and enhanced accountability requirements as school boards provide realistic project costs and timelines.
Strengthened accountability framework to reduce approval timelines and stronger project oversight with the introduction of project agreements that lay out key milestones and delivery timelines.
Standardizing designs of new schools to reduce school board planning time and mitigate scheduling delays.
Greater collaboration between school boards and municipalities to ensure planning and construction of schools is targeted to ongoing and future growth.
Reducing red tape with streamlined approval and reporting requirements on new school builds.
Effectively using space by supporting school boards in working together to operate schools in joint-use facilities between two or more boards within the same building, where appropriate, 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.
Identifying and disposing of unused surplus school board property at fair market value, first considering local school board pupil accommodation needs and then provincial priorities such as long-term care and affordable housing before being sold by school boards on the open market. School boards will continue to reinvest proceeds of disposition back into their school facilities.
These measures have been incorporated into this year’s (2023-24) Capital Priorities Program as well as through new regulation that takes effect December 31, 2023. The reforms will address the changing needs of the province and ensure that Ontario is building schools faster and better utilizing taxpayer dollars effectively, bringing more and improved accountability and transparency for parents and families.
School boards submit detailed project proposals to the ministry through the Capital Priorities Program (CPP) to address their current or anticipated accommodation needs for funding consideration. This program provides funding for capital projects to address accommodation pressures, facility condition, access to French-language schools and create new child care spaces in schools.
Ontario is committed to providing about $15 billion over 10 years to support school construction, repair, and renewal.
Since 2018, the government has approved or supported the development of nearly 300 school-related projects including child care.
Since 2022, 38 new school construction or school addition projects have opened across the province.
“By leveraging surplus properties and cutting red tape to build new schools faster, our government is delivering on our historic plan to build Ontario. With these changes, we are one step closer to getting shovels in the ground to build new, modern, STEM-focussed schools as we prepare young students for the jobs of tomorrow. The construction of new schools by standardizing design will help build schools faster to meet the growing demand for infrastructure in our communities province-wide.”
- The Honourable Kinga Surma
Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure
“Building communities is about so much more than just housing. These measures will support stronger collaboration between municipalities and school boards as we all work together to build the complete communities critical for Ontario’s economic prosperity and quality of life.”
- Colin Best