Letters – June 2013

Send us your letters before the 10th of each month for the following month’s issue.

An enclave for the rich

demolitionI find the destruction of perfectly good homes in this area to be so immoral, but I can’t seem to convince anybody, especially not Councillor John Parker.

Out with the old and in with the new seems to be the prevailing attitude. Such a waste, such an environmental disaster.

The perfectly good home in the photo at right (the one behind the fenced tree) was turned into rubble a few days later.  What they will build in its place will sell for between $1 and $2 million, and may well turn out to be one of the “Queen Ann front, Mary Ann behind” stucco boxes that now blight Leaside.  

Leaside used to offer a mix of upscale homes along with more affordable housing, but the area is rapidly being transformed into an enclave for the very rich.  Taxes go up accordingly, forcing out many longtime residents with lower incomes.

I’d love to see a lot more regulations placed on such “development.”

John Tomlinson,
6 MacNaughton Rd.

Leaside Life: Thanks for the letter and the photo. But we’re a bit puzzled about what you’d like Parker to do. The city would have to change the bylaws to stop this from happening. Do you have any suggestions for what should happen?

JT: Well, at the very least, I’d like Councillor Parker to initiate some kind of “green” disposal plan for demolished homes.  As far as I can see, all the debris goes into bins destined for landfill — no sorting done at all.

Parker will say only that he supports the “right of a person to build a better house”.  But these days surely that “right” must be influenced by other factors.

Or, perhaps Councillor Parker could take a note from Jane Pitfield who regularly, and successfully, challenged developers over the use of tacky materials (stucco) and designs that do not coordinate with the traditional character of Leaside.  Many of the new homes are cheaply made, mediocre beyond belief.

Leaside also badly needs to preserve some of its existing affordable housing, particularly the bungalows which have become an endangered species.  Frankly, I am beginning to feel embarrassed about living in Leaside – home to the rich and the environmentally careless.

But in view of the now lengthy history of demolition and redevelopment, I don’t know how change is to be effected while maintaining fairness to owners wishing to sell and reap the same cash rewards as others. Perhaps one step would be to make it much more difficult for developers to buy and rebuild.  This could be done in a number of ways:

1.  Establish new rules regarding complete demolition.  Many of the homes that go under the hydraulic shovel are perfectly sound in design and structure, requiring only some renovation.  Carting good homes off to landfill is a crime on a number of levels.

2.  Reestablish meaningful opposition to builders who do not meet traditional Leaside standards for building materials (i.e. no stucco for starters).

3.  Redevelopment significantly reduces the quality of life for immediate neighbours, in most cases for a year or more, and hugely increases wear and tear on the street.

Also, most mature city-owned trees, even though fence protected, do not survive a rebuild for more than a few years – too much root damage, and builders generally do not respect the canopy, damaging branches or sawing them off when they get in the way of machinery.

The owner of a property to be redeveloped should have to compensate both the immediate neighbours and the city for disruption and damage.  I suggest that a developer should be required to pay a percentage of the immediate neighbours’ taxes during the period of construction.

4.  Devise a tax reduction scheme geared to the amount of a property that is green – i.e. not covered by building, patio, structure, or pavement of any kind. The more green space, the greater the percentage of tax reduction. Some front yards are almost completely paved for parking, and the amount of after-deck backyard space is, in many cases, the proverbial postage stamp.

Maybe readers have other suggestions, especially those who have experienced a next door knock-down.


It’s all in our backyard

The recent display at the local library called Layers of Leaside did a good job of illustrating that Leaside has undergone several periods of significant transformation as it grew from a pioneer settlement to a thriving neighbourhood of mid-city professionals. As a Leaside homeowner, I am proud of our rich history, but also keenly interested in what lies ahead.

As a community we are currently facing MORE than our fair share of complex development issues. Off the top of my head I can name 10 large projects happening right here in our backyards:

1. SmartCentre development at Laird and Wicksteed

2. Office tower and condo proposal for Eglinton and Brentcliffe

3. Condo proposal for 2 Laird Dr. (the old post office)

4. Whole Foods plaza at Bayview north of Eglinton

5. Development around 262 Bessborough Dr.

6.  Garden Court apartments proposal to convert to condos

7.  Talbot apartment evictions

8. Donwoods property development

9. LRT extension across Eglinton

10. The systematic tear-down and re-build of our neighbourhood, one house at a time.

With so much going on, I was completely perplexed to find myself the only attendee at the May meeting of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association (LPOA), save and except for the people who came representing the Garden Court and the Talbot apartments (who left promptly after discussing their issue).

Having lived in the Guildwood area for many years, where a meeting about a proposal for the Guild Inn could attract 200+ people, I was expecting Leaside to have robust attendance at these important meetings. At the very least I didn’t expect to be the only person there.

I was also expecting our government representative, John Parker, to be there; however, I gathered from commentary that it’s been several months since he’s graced us with his presence.

What will it take for Leasiders to get involved with — and excited about — the development of our future community?  Moreover, what will it take for us to get our councillor to pay attention to our concerns?

We are a large community, divided into North Leaside, South Leaside, the Laird – Brentcliffe area, the Bayview strip, etc. It’s easy to develop a not-on-my.backyard mindset, and just worry about our apartment building, our street, our schoolyard. But the 10 issues listed above, and many more, affect all of us. Each of these projects will impact us in some way, either through traffic, schools, infrastructure, and most importantly, through changing the character of our cherished area.

It’s all in our backyard.

The 12 people who make up the LPOA seem to do a very capable job, but it must be discouraging for them to keep on “fighting the good fight” in an atmosphere of apparent apathy. Having led those types of groups before, I know that it sometimes seems like the challenges are endless and the support is intermittent.

I’d encourage all of you to try to make at least a couple of these meetings per year. It’s only a few hours a month and the effort goes a long way to support these people who are the voice of our community’s future.

B. Smith, 
Southvale Dr.


It’s growth and it’s good

We are urbanites, get with the program.

The May issue of Leaside Life saw a rather heavy handed smack down for Mr. Ashworth and his opinion on the LPOA. I don’t know Mr. Ashworth nor am I familiar with the members of the LPOA but it seems to me by the tone of the letters that Leasiders are having a problem accepting the fact that we live in the 21st century in an urban community that needs to grow as an urban community.

One does not get to live by the standards of 1940s’ urban development when the roads were mud, an airport was located in Leaside and the community was primarily housed by blue collar workers from the factories along Laird.

I would venture to guess that our community has very few blue collar workers looking for factory jobs. But we have many two-income households with at least two high end cars in the driveway looking for services and the action in the SmartCentre parking lot any given day tells me Leasiders are supporting the services coming into our community.

So get over yourselves. We can’t go back, we can only go forward.

And don’t get me started on the condo development for Brentcliffe and Eglinton. We are getting LRT folks. Urban planning does not put in high density rapid transit services unless there is an opportunity for residential density along the line.

This Leasider is quite happy that the south-west corner will get the condo towers and not the north stretch of Eglinton between Brentcliffe and Don Avon, which would have them looming over the backyards of my neighbours.

We have to accept the growth. We can’t expect to fight every change that comes along, and reap the benefits of urban development without any change in our little world.

So get with the program people. Let’s look at these changes as positive improvements to our lives. Our property values will increase, we will find solutions for our schools and roads, and I’m pretty sure we will shop in the new stores and use the new restaurants and other services.

It’s growth and it’s good.

Patti Knight,
Donlea Dr.


Harper’s attendance at Leaside 100 gala inappropriate

I hoped our Prime Minister would do his ubiquitous thing somewhere else. But instead he popped up at our only-once-in-a-century gala dinner. Seems he was invited. I think this was a mistake; a bad call. The event was not a reunion but Leaside’s centennial celebration. His attendance was inappropriate.

Mr. Harper’s presence politicized the event by adding a partisan and divisive element. With his photo ops and glad-handing, our gala shindig became reminiscent of a Conservative fundraiser. This is not how the event was promoted. All our local political representatives were already present, including Ontario Premier Wynne. The PM was just an unneeded and distracting fifth wheel.

Harper is anathema to the many Leasiders who are alarmed and disturbed by his excesses, including his suppression of public information. Our media freedom is now rated by Reporters without Borders as behind Jamaica – and Namibia.

Given his chequered and controversial record – typified by his consistent use of bullying “gutter messaging” – I like to think that his values are now at odds with those of the quintessentially decent middle-class Leaside residents.

He is also unpopular outside Leaside. His approval rating is now just 28 percent across the country (EKOS, Globe, April 27). There was simply no good reason to showcase him and allow him to strut his stuff at our very special event.

On the positive side: The Ford brothers did not attend our gala. I can’t imagine a less palatable dinner event than one featuring Harper and Rob/Doug Ford as the star attractions.

I am relieved that I stayed home to enjoy a glass of rose with my pizza, after sipping a latte. I watched the CBC’s National news with some nostalgia, knowing that the omnibus budget bill threatens CBC’s continued editorial independence.

(Breaking News: The new Bank of Canada governor is an outsider hand-picked by Mr. Flaherty, putting the bank’s continued independence also into question).

Control and suppress. An ominous pattern is emerging. Oh, and those re-routed jets roaring overhead? That��s federal noise. With “friends” like Mr. Harper in high places we don’t lack for enemies.

If Margaret Atwood (a class act with Leaside creds rivaling Harper’s) had been present, my wife would have attended anyway. They used to double date!

Apart from the Harper booby-trap, the Leaside 100 organizing committee did an outstanding job of arranging a diverse schedule of appealing events. A tour de force. As local residents for almost half of Leaside’s 100 years, we applaud and thank them for their selfless efforts on behalf of Leaside residents.

Tim McDonald
Cameron Cres.


Eglinton and Laird intersection a disaster

The Eglinton Ave. East and Laird Dr. intersection is a disaster waiting to happen because of the inconsiderate drivers going north on Laird who then turn east on Eglinton.

One of the most common instances is when both the driver and pedestrian are waiting and instead of letting the pedestrian(s) walk, the driver immediately turns.

On one occasion, three pedestrians were waiting to cross and proceeded to walk when it was their turn, but a SUV driver actually drove around the pedestrians instead of waiting.

On another occasion, a lady and her dog were walking when a driver turned and slammed the brakes. The lady gave the driver a look, but it is unclear if the driver acknowledged the resentment that the bystander had.

Please be more careful of pedestrians.

Andrew Moran,
Eglinton Ave. East