As I write this column, near the end of 2013, I look back at the matters that the Leaside Property Owners’ Association has worked on during the past year. Traffic (too much of it) and development (not always of the right sort or size, or in the right place) have dominated the calendar.
It is not true to suggest that ratepayer groups are only ‘against’. However, acting as cheerleader for every new development is not our role. Too often ratepayer groups are unfairly portrayed as knee-jerk NIMBY.
Protecting what we value about Leaside is our guiding principle, while adjusting to the challenges of a changing city. In fact, when development proposals come to light, we try to work co-operatively with city planners and would-be developers to ensure new projects are in scale with the neighbourhood.
An example is the proposed condominium at the former Leaside post office site (2 Laird Dr., at Malcolm Rd.). For many months, in many meetings, we have supported efforts by homeowners on Malcolm Rd. and Krawchuk Lane to reduce the massing, size, height and scale originally proposed. Although at the time of writing the developer plans to proceed directly to the Ontario Municipal Board, we are still working for a more suitable design.
SmartCentre North is another example, where the LPOA and Leaside Unite have reached a financial settlement to pay for a traffic study to help shelter the residential area from excessive retail traffic, conduct a heritage study to look at protecting the history and look of Leaside, and provide start-up funds to help merchants along the Bayview shopping strip set up a Business Improvement Area.
When we hear about big developments, such as the mega-complex of high-rise condominiums, stores and offices proposed for 939 Eglinton Ave. East at Brentcliffe Rd. and Vanderhoof Ave., our first priority and duty is to consider the impact they would have on Leaside as a whole.
We ask the questions you would ask: Would it have a negative impact on Leaside’s residential streets, nearby homes and schools, local businesses, and infrastructure? How much car and commuter traffic would the project generate throughout Leaside? What traffic patterns would it create? How would this affect businesses in the Leaside Business Park?
Additionally, in the next year or so, construction of the Eglinton LRT will create major traffic diversion problems throughout north and south Leaside. Neither the city nor the TTC has yet provided details regarding how they will deal with these problems, but the LPOA is asking the relevant authorities for that information. The LPOA will report to you through this column and invite your feedback at public meetings.
Leasiders have a lot to be thankful for. We are a community with strong neighbourhood ties and a willingness to cooperatively address any issues which need to be monitored and dealt with. The LPOA looks forward to working with you as we enter the new year, and wishes you all a very happy and healthy 2014.
The LPOA Board meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in the Trace Manes centre (located by the tennis courts). Because the first Wednesday in January falls on New Year’s Day, our January meeting will take place on Jan. 8. We invite you to join us, either as a deputant or as an observer.