Enrolment Growth and Building New Schools

Durham Region is a great place to live, work, play and learn! Over the past four years, the Durham District School Board (DDSB) has experienced tremendous growth through new developments and families moving to existing neighbourhoods. The DDSB has grown from approximately 70,000 students in 2019 to approximately 79,000 students in 2023. This level of growth touches almost every school community across the DDSB and is expected to increase.  

To build a new school, Ministry of Education approval is required. The DDSB is proactive in seeking this approval to build new schools, in some cases re-submitting the same project over multiple years if approval is not granted and following up when necessary. We also manage the enrolment pressure in many other ways, and you can learn more about what the DDSB is doing to serve you by reading the frequently asked questions.  

Regardless of where in our community you live, our dedicated school teams are always eager to welcome you and support the diverse educational needs of your children.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the DDSB building new schools?

To help meet the growth in Durham Region, the DDSB has received Ministry of Education approval for five new school builds and one major addition:  

Beaver River PS – Scheduled to open in September 2024 

Construction is underway and the new school will replace and consolidate Beaverton PS and Thorah Central PS on the Beaverton PS site (270 King St, Beaverton). Ministry of Education approval was initially granted in February 2018. However, the length of delay is primarily due to the Ministry approvals process and that the DDSB re-submitted the project to request a larger building that would better accommodate previously unregistered growth in Beaverton. After receiving Ministry approval to build a larger school, we experienced further Ministry delays in receiving final approval. This situation was an anomaly but contributed to the lengthy development timeline.   

Unnamed North Oshawa PS – Scheduled to open in September 2024 

Construction is underway and the school will be located at Windfields Farm Drive West and Wintergrace Avenue in Oshawa. Ministry of Education approval was initially granted in October 2020. 

Mary Street PS – Building addition is scheduled to open in September 2024 

Construction is underway at the current Mary Street PS (110 Mary St N, Oshawa) to replace the existing portapac structure. Ministry of Education approval was initially granted in July 2020. 

Unnamed Pickering Creekwood PS – Scheduled to open in September 2025 

The DDSB is in the process of acquiring the site located at Tillings Rd and Dersan St from the City of Pickering after they complete environmental remediation on the site. Ministry of Education approval was initially granted in July 2020. 

Unnamed Pickering Seaton PS – Scheduled to open in September 2026 

Planning and development is underway for this new elementary school to be located at Burkholder Drive and Azalea Avenue in Pickering. Ministry of Education approval was initially granted in May 2022. 

Unnamed North Oshawa SS – Scheduled to open in September 2026 
Planning and development is underway for this new secondary school to be located at at Windfields Farm Drive East and Bridle Road South in Oshawa. Ministry of Education approval was initially granted in May 2022.
Why does it take so long to build a school?

The timing of school construction does not always align with the speed of residential growth as the approval, funding and construction period can be lengthy. In some cases, it could take seven to ten years after the construction of new homes in a neighbourhood for a new school to open. The DDSB purchases land for new schools in advance whenever possible but in some cases, the purchase of land takes place at the same time as the approvals process and can also experience delays. We also work with local municipalities throughout the development process to obtain the necessary planning approvals.  

The previous Ministry of Education approvals process (which applies to all six DDSB schools in development) required four stages of Ministry approval: 

  1. Announcement of funding;  
  2. Approval of facility space template and appointing an architect;  
  3. Approval to proceed to tender based on a cost consultant report; and  
  4. Post tender approval if the tender exceeds the approved funding amount. 
Based on provincial (and many cases worldwide) trends associated with rising construction costs and other factors, the previous process meant that Ministry approvals took a significant amount of time before the DDSB was allowed to get shovels in the ground. Based on the previous process, we estimate that it takes approximately three to four years from the initial approval of a school until it can open. We are hopeful that recent changes made by the Ministry will better streamline approvals, provide more cost certainty and help us build schools faster.
In what areas are new schools most needed? 

Staff are currently analyzing enrolment data, trends, and identifying areas where the DDSB is experiencing significant accommodation pressures before submitting projects to the Ministry of Education in Fall 2023.  

  • The West Whitby area continues to grow with over 900 elementary students in holding schools waiting on new school construction, with no new school build currently approved despite two previous applications.  
  • North Oshawa is experiencing rapid growth and although a new elementary school is slated to open in 2024, it is anticipated to be full when opened and an equal number of students will remain in portables at holding schools while they await a second new build closer to home.   
  • While two projects have been approved for Pickering and will open in the next two to three years, residential growth in Seaton is anticipated to outpace the space available.

We constantly monitor growth data and work with municipalities to anticipate where new development is expected to go in order to inform our planning and determine where new schools are needed most. For greater detail on how the DDSB plans for accommodation pressures, please review the Pupil Accommodation Plan: Trends, Issues, Future Opportunities 2023-2027.

What else is the DDSB doing to manage this growth?

The DDSB manages enrolment pressures in many different ways including through permanent boundary reviews to balance enrolment, using existing buildings to their fullest potential, the use of portables, and sustained investment in school renewal projects (renovating space). In some cases, only the construction of a new school or an expansion of an existing school can appropriately address enrolment pressures.  

Boundary Reviews  

The DDSB recently completed a boundary review for Clara Hughes PS in Oshawa last year and anticipates conducting boundary reviews this year for Vincent Massey PS in Oshawa and Eagle Ridge PS/Rosemary Brown PS in Ajax.  

With the opening of Unnamed North Oshawa PS (Windfields Farm Dr. W/Wintergrace Ave.) in Oshawa, we will also establish a new boundary for that school. We will communicate with those school communities once we are prepared to start the boundary review process. It is important to note that a permanent boundary review is one of the last options the DDSB uses as it may mean that some students will have to attend a different school. Any permanent boundary changes to a school are approved by the DDSB Board of Trustees and there is a robust consultation process. As boundary and program reviews take place, detailed information about proposed changes and consultation processes can be found on the Boundary and Program Review page.  


Portables are utilized as a temporary measure when there is no available classroom space within a facility and typically help to manage enrolment pressures that are anticipated to decline over time as a neighbourhood stabilizes.   

The addition of portables to a school site can give the impression that a school is “over-capacity”, but that number is based on what is called the Ministry Rated Capacity (MRC). This is the Ministry of Education’s formula for the number of students to be accommodated within a school in permanent classrooms. While MRC utilizations may exceed 100%, schools are designed to accommodate portable use and the DDSB ensures that all Ontario Building Code requirements are followed to ensure sufficient washrooms exist in the school building to safely accommodate the number of staff and students on site. In addition, the DDSB is required to follow all Ministry class size maximums, regardless of portable use.  

Holding Schools 

Holding schools are used to accommodate students from new development areas until a new school can be built. The DDSB currently has 33 schools designated as holding schools, 27 elementary and 6 secondary, across Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa.  

Every student attending a holding school will continue to be supported by a high-quality team of educators and administrators and in some cases, attending a holding school means more extracurricular opportunities and supports.