A Long and Complicated Farewell

By: Chloe Li

Every morning, I walk past the hulking mass of an ancient building. The letters “ORTH NT COLLEGIATE NSITUTE” hang feebly from its side and its walls seem to droop a little against each other. On occasion, I habitually start to walk up where its dilapidated steps begin and I wish that the ancient building’s reincarnation would spring up, say, a block down the street—then I remember that the new and beautiful NTCI has already arrived.

The question is, then, why is the ghost of our school still hovering over the space that is supposed to become our field? Though the old building holds irreplaceable memories for many NT staff and students, we are well on our way to making new ones in our new building.  It has been nearly two months since NT opened its gleaming new doors, so when are we going to have a field to play football, soccer, field hockey, to practice for marching band, or to simply eat lunch on? And why has the demolition taken so long?

There are actually a multitude of reasons for the delay, beginning with NTCI’s obligation to our LEED-Gold certification. The school must dispose of hazardous waste and materials from the demolition in an environmentally-friendly way, while salvaging and recycling as many materials as possible. For example, many of the old school’s mechanical features have been taken apart and re-used in other schools, while the old school’s copper piping has been recycled, re-melted and sold.

Much of the delay can also be attributed to the TDSB’s dedication to keeping hazardous materials away from students and the general public. Asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral of oxygen and silicon, was widely used as an insulator when the first NTCI building was built. If it enters the human respiratory system, asbestos has been found to cause diseases such as cancers of the lung and mesothelium (a protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs). Because of this enormous risk, construction crews must take painstaking care to remove asbestos from the old school before it is demolished; asbestos removal is currently underway and will end by mid-November, following which the demolition will finally begin. The demolition itself is projected to last until February, 2011.

How do NT students feel about the delay for the demolition of our old school? Many seem to share the view that student safety is well worth the wait. “If they’re taking longer because they don’t want problems with asbestos, that’s definitely a good thing,” says Jonah Goldberg, a Grade 11 student. Some, on the other hand, are simply impatient for the arrival of the promised field. “I just want my damn field,” says Hayley Goldfarb, another Grade 11 student.

Despite these delays, the new artificial turf field is scheduled to be installed between April and July of 2011. Bleachers and a track, as well as public art, will be installed around it. Though we will not have a new field before the end of this school year, we can rest assured that we will have a state-of-the-art field to match our state-of-the-art school by September of 2011—after all, that’s when our permit at Eglinton Park runs out and we’ve got to have those gym classes somewhere.

So, NT—Are you ready to have Red & Grey Day finally arrive on home turf?