Jaye loved Leaside (and Leaside loved Jaye) 

Saving old Leaside

We knew she was struggling with a resurgence of her cancer, but the news of her passing on May 16 hit hard and deep. Jaye was a City Councillor for 14 years, and OUR Councillor for six of those years, having been elected in Ward 25 (Leaside was in neighbouring Ward 26) in 2010, re-elected in 2014, in 2018 elected in the realigned, and much larger, Ward 15 Don Valley West, and re-elected in 2022. Being a responsive and effective Councillor in Ward 15 is a significant challenge when you consider Don Valley West’s location, size and character – from Highway 401 in the north to Bennington Heights in the south, its population of over 100,000 people, and its diversity, encompassing neighbourhoods as different as The Bridle Path and Thorncliffe Park.

Jaye loved Leaside and the feeling was mutual. What endeared her to the community, I think, was the sense that she could be relied upon to ably represent the community – she understood the issues and needs, and she was on OUR side.

Jaye was a supporter of preserving neighbourhood scale and character, and if asked, was willing to write to the Committee of Adjustment in support of residents with concerns about monster house development on a neighbouring property. She would activate appeals by the City to ensure the community was properly represented at the tribunal when a decision was appealed. And she acted at Council to initiate a study of “iceberg basements,” which extend deep down in the water table and beyond the building footprint, but are presently not regulated. She was also an environmentalist, moving several motions at Council for tree canopy preservation and ravine protection.

Councillor Robinson was active in the rash of tall tower developments on north Bayview that have followed the provincial overriding (2019) of the City-adopted OPA 405 (2018). While recognizing the diminished City role in what now tends to be a provincially controlled tribunal playground, she made motions at Council to ameliorate local concerns with development, and the need for offsetting community benefits. A recent example is 1779-1787 Bayview – the overbuild of the Leaside Station – where she moved to make funds available for baseball field netting and lighting systems for Talbot Park, and for heritage protection of the remaining Talbot quads on Bayview. As well, for the Leaside Business Park she was a vigilant guardian of the employment lands designation.  

While her “small c” values endeared her to the community, sometimes she received criticism for her stands. Alex Bozikovic, The Globe and Mail’s architecture critic, described Jaye Robinson as “furiously anti-development.”

But her support for community was not limited to leafy neighbourhoods like Leaside. Following her passing, I attended a condolence meeting in honour of Councillor Jaye Robinson held in Thorncliffe Park, where her responsiveness to the community and her creativity were widely recognized. For example:

  • her timely support for Covid response – she organized skids of face masks for distribution in Thorncliffe Park.
  • her concern for community safety – making adjustments to the bike lanes and implementing two new crosswalks on Thorncliffe Park Drive.
  • expediting the reporting to North York Community Council on the North section of the Ontario Line (i.e. the Stations, the Guideway, the MSF [Metrolinx] and TOD Infrastructure Ontario).

Jaye’s obituary said (in part) that “she spent her life serving the public, representing her community with fierce determination and unbending principle.” She is missed.

 

About Geoff Kettel 223 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.