By the time you reach this page, you will know that we are commemorating Leaside Life’s 100th issue, and while looking back, we also look forward. Leaside itself recently celebrated its centenary, and although the Leaside Residents Association (LRA) has not been around quite as long, it definitely has a history worth recalling.
The Leaside Property Owners’ Association (LPOA), which recently changed its name to the LRA, emerged in the middle of the 20th century, driven mainly by citizen concerns about unwanted development. An early example: did you know that in the 1960s developers wanted to tear down 46 single-family homes on Mallory Crescent south of Moore, east of Bayview? They applied to rezone the area to permit three 22-storey and two 29-storey apartment buildings on the site. Nearby residents, and other Leasiders, rose up and joined an appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board, which was successful. Think how different Leaside might be today if that kind of height and density had set a precedent and become the norm.
Since then, the LPOA has gone to the OMB many (countless?) times to fight other high-density or otherwise inappropriate developments within Leaside. The LRA continues to do this at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), the OMB’s successor.
What are some of the LPOA’s/LRA’s milestones? In the past decade or two, just before the city’s 1997 amalgamation, the LPOA was commissioned by the then Borough of East York to draw up a strategy to revitalize the Leaside Industrial Area; we continue to work with the business park on mutual issues. We were successful in helping preserve the Garden Court complex on Bayview Avenue and opposing a Walmart on the east side of Laird. We protected the three historic Talbot apartment buildings on Bayview across from Mt. Pleasant cemetery, a landmark victory after a six-week hearing.
We continue to promote heritage protection throughout Leaside. The LRA works with residents to represent them at the Committee of Adjustment on local development matters. Traffic infiltration through Leaside remains a major concern, but we anticipate real progress soon.
Over the years development pressures on our neighbourhood have increased, and, as volunteers, our challenge has been to keep up with the pace of applications, while trying to influence relevant municipal and provincial legislation. This is not always easy, especially now. The province has recently changed planning rules to give developers more leeway – and neighbourhoods less power.
Protecting what is “Leaside” about Leaside is definitely worth pursuing. So, if you are not yet a member, join us – or if you haven’t yet renewed your membership, please do so, at lpoa.ca. The LRA’s opportunity to contest and ability to influence are only as strong as our membership support.
Holding our monthly board meetings in public is an important commitment of the LRA. We hope that we will soon be able to hold in-person monthly meetings again, although at the moment the situation is still unclear. Thanks to technology, we can at least maintain accessibility to our meetings via Zoom. During this period of social distancing we want to continue to be as accessible as possible. If you wish to be a deputant or part of a deputation to the LRA’s next online meeting, on SEPTEMBER 9th at 7:30 p.m., please contact us by that date (lpoa.ca) and we will supply you with the information to link to it