Mayor John Tory supports creation of new training centre in Scarborough to teach trades

Toronto Mayor John Tory supports the idea of creating a training centre in Scarborough that would teach skilled trades to east end residents, his office said Monday.

Support comes after community organization asked mayor on Monday to approve idea

An organization that seeks to promote economic growth in Scarborough called on Toronto Mayor John Tory to support the development of a training centre that would teach skilled trades to east end residents and the mayor said he would. (Shutterstock)

Toronto Mayor John Tory supports the idea of creating a training centre in Scarborough that would teach skilled trades to east-end residents, his office said Monday.

His support comes after a community organization that seeks to promote economic growth in Scarborough sent the mayor a letter asking for his approval.

"Centres like this have been successful in other parts of the GTA and are usually the result of collaboration between governments, employers and trade unions," Don Peat, spokesperson for the mayor, said in an email.

"The mayor looks forward to helping make one possible in Scarborough. He believes a centre like this could help address the shortage of skilled trades workers."

Peat said the issue was raised with the mayor when he attended a Scarborough manufacturing and technology roundtable meeting last week and he was told it was the number one issue.

Centre means 'training is where the jobs will be'

In the letter to Tory on Monday, the Scarborough Community Renewal Organization said a training centre would ensure that local residents would benefit from transit, hospital infrastructure and waterfront revitalization projects planned for Scarborough.
Dave Hardy, an urban planner and president of Hardy Stevenson and Associates Ltd., speaks to a roomful of people at a community summit entitled 'Building a Vision for Scarborough' at the University of Toronto Scarborough. (Supplied)

"It is important that Scarborough residents have the skills and training needed to seize the job opportunities that investment in infrastructure will bring," the letter reads.

"Locating this institution in Scarborough will ensure the training is where the jobs will be, and that residents will not need to travel long distances to go to school. An East End Trades Training Centre will allow Scarborough to become a more complete community where residents can train, work, live and play."

Idea emerged from the community 

Jennifer McKelvie, immediate past president of SCRO, which has more than 100 members, said the idea emerged from a day-long summit on Saturday, attended by more than 100 people representing 18 community associations and students from the University of Toronto Scarborough. 

"This is something that we want the city to fund and champion and work in partnership with the province, local colleges, universities and trade unions to ensure that we have a facility for developing the skills in the trades that will be needed for our residents to work on all of the different infrastructure projects that will be happening in Scarborough," she told CBC Toronto. 
Jennifer McKelvie, immediate past president of SCRO, says a trades training centre would ensure that Scarborough has the workers needed to complete infrastructure projects planned for the district. (Supplied)

McKelvie said Scarborough does not have a centre of this kind focused on skilled trades, no specific location has been identified and the cost has not yet determined. She said it could be run by a college with help from some trade unions.

'Momentum' building in Scarborough

Given that housing development will accompany projects planned for Scarborough, the need for skilled labour will grow, McKelvie said. A trades training centre would ensure that the district has the workers needed to complete the projects.

"Scarborough has been very under-served with investment over the years. We finally have some momentum that is happening. So all of these investments will create jobs. We will need to have trained labour in Scarborough that will be able to fill this gap in the workforce," she said.

Projects planned for Scarborough include:

  • the $3.35 billion Scarborough subway extension.
  • the $1.1 billion planned redevelopment of facilities at the Scarborough and Rouge Hospital, including a new emergency room and new operating rooms.
  • the $85 million Meadoway, a 16 kilometre urban park that would connect the Don River Ravine to Rouge National Urban Park.
  • the $170 million Scarborough Waterfront Project by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority that would revitalize the shoreline. 
TTC crews work on power rail replacement on Line 3, known as the Scarborough RT, during a closure in March. The TTC says no work has begun on the Scarborough subway extension. (TTC)

Tory did not respond to two other requests made by the organization in the past three years.

Group has asked for city jobs, arts centre study

In 2015, at the start of a campaign by five Scarborough Rotary Clubs to rejuvenate the district, Tory asked community leaders to come up with three priorities he could support.

In 2016, the organization asked for 3,000 municipal jobs to be moved to Scarborough from such departments as city planning, engineering and construction services, and city purchasing and materials management. In 2017, it asked for a $2.5 million feasibility study to look at the development of a living arts facility in Scarborough. 

At a Scarborough Business Association lunch a week ago, Tory said the city is studying the modernization of its workforce and redistributing municipal jobs is a possibility.