February 2019 Letters

Re: Streets of Leaside – Bennington

Thank you for the article on the name “Bennington” and about my parents, Thomas and Evelyn Weatherhead.

It is wonderful to recall how idyllic it was for me and my brothers and sister to grow up in Bennington Heights when it was a district of open fields, two farms, a few houses and exciting streams and ravines to explore each weekend.

My father had our family home built in 1925 in what was then simply the edge of a farmer’s field. (There was no road then.) He asked a friend, Frederick Sproston Challener, to design the house. Challener was predominantly an artist and muralist who in 1907 created the spectacular mural on the ceiling of the Royal Alexander Theatre in Toronto. As Challener was not an architect, an architectural firm carried out his design. The home I grew up in still exists at 30 Bennington Heights Drive. Perhaps because Challener was English, the house incorporates a living room with a beamed cathedral ceiling 18 feet high with a minstrel gallery at one end. As children we loved watching parties from this vantage point. I treasure the oil painting Challener did of the house after it was finished in 1925.

I only mention the architect because the Leaside Life article credited the architect of our house as being Bruce Brown, a famous church architect, who built his own beautiful house at 40 Bennington Heights Drive, plus two other houses on Bennington Heights Drive and two other houses on Brendan Avenue. These are all lovely stone houses, but our house, when it was first built, was not as grand as those.

Thanks again for the article, it brought back a lot of happy childhood memories of growing up in a beautiful part of the city.

Peter Bennington Weatherhead

Re: “Leaside Tax”

I read with interest Glenn Asano’s column wherein he wondered if there was a “Leaside Tax” that subjected Leasiders to price discrimination for merely living in the area. I’d like to make clear that the vast majority of trades out there are good people and not “out to get anyone.” Sometimes there is a higher cost to serve a more discerning customer, so it is always important to consider the proverbial “apples to apples” cliché when looking at costs. Are these two companies the same, are their vehicles and equipment as advanced, are their staff as well trained, are the software and technologies they’re using created equal…

As a professional who’s worked in the construction and contracting industry, something to keep in mind is that all quotes not only factor in the pro’s actual labour costs, but also the time for travel, their license, their insurance, and—if necessary—their specialized equipment. As a rule of thumb: The more valuable e.g. your appliance is, the higher the cost for insurance, specialized equipment, training etc. will be for the pro. This is usually reflected in higher hourly prices (see ranges below). Also, expect prices to increase 50-100% for after-hours emergency services.

How much should home repair and maintenance services cost? An appliance repair professional is $80-$150/hr; a plumber or an HVAC repair $100-$150/hr; a locksmith will run you $80-$100/hr. A general handyman may charge between $40-$80/hr.

Even with a price guideline or a referral from a neighbour, many customers do not know what questions to ask. Do you get a second opinion? How do you know you are not being scammed? Is the work being proposed even necessary? Turning to the services of home managers, who act as an advocate and use their expertise to smooth out the process of working with trades directly, takes out the guesswork.

David Steckel, Setter