Letters – May 2013

We got a lot of complaints

(RE: EG-BRENT 1280 condos in new plan, April, 2013)

As LPOA President, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the article by Will Ashworth in the previous issue of Leaside Life.

Mr. Ashworth’s column provided his opinion and support for a 1.2 million sf, 1,280-condo unit proposal for the southwest corner of Brentcliffe and Eglinton, and suggested a position had been formed by the LPOA.

The LPOA is a ratepayer organization comprised of volunteers who live in, and have a vested interest in the Leaside community. We are dedicated to representing Leaside residents’ interests and priorities.

These priorities often involve development, traffic infiltration, heritage preservation, and small business protection, amongst others. We also endeavour to maintain a close working relationship with our local elected officials and city staff as part of our function.

Mr. Ashworth’s article suggests the LPOA was “quick to judge the project” and “believe they are singularly qualified to speak for the community”. To the contrary, we endeavour to use our limited resources to reach out to the community and welcome feedback through as many channels as possible.

The proposed demolition of the Pure Fitness plaza and development of 1,280 condo units in three towers of 22, 26, and 29 storeys is one of the largest redevelopment proposals ever submitted in Leaside. We would hope to receive as much input from the community as possible.

The LPOA meets monthly and all Leaside residents are welcome to attend and bring forward specific issues or concerns. Developers and builders are welcome to present development and alternative proposals prior to city application. Community input and feedback is critical to our function.

In conclusion, LPOA board members put in hundreds of hours of work each year as volunteers. We are comprised of businesspersons, engineers, a lawyer, planner, landscape architect and retirees from numerous backgrounds. We are, most importantly, Leasiders who are dedicated to our community.

Brian Athey
President, LPOA

Please, no more columns by Will Ashworth. The two that unfortunately appeared in the 100th anniversary edition were like reading the thoughts of an aspiring mouthpiece for commercial developers. Maybe Will’s views are worth airing as a one-off reader’s letter, but please, not as a columnist.

I found this month’s columns particularly disingenuous: in Leaside Life, Will stated that he was “not a huge fan of Walmart,” yet in his writings elsewhere this month (in this case his writing in Investopedia) he’s enough of a fan to analyze Walmart’s financials, and to express the belief that for the moment at least, “Walmart’s stock is worth owning.”

I prefer my Leaside Life columnists to have less of a focus on commercial concerns and more of a focus on community.

Julian Jones,
Sutherland Dr.

To Will Ashworth: I just read your article about the proposed condo development at Brentcliffe and Eglinton. I disagree with your comments that there should not be much of an impact in the area, as I live two blocks from that intersection.

The traffic has tripled since we moved in 1980 and my school population has tripled. I work in kindergarten. The schools ARE definitely impacted with increased population.

You said “no more than 500 children would be absorbed into the school system” (Page 10) and this would not impact schools in the neighbourhood. Have you been in a public school lately in the junior grades? You should visit and see what it is like with 31 in a classroom that was built in the 1950s and see the impact it has on the children.

Playground space is limited, classrooms are too small and noise levels are outrageous.

I disagree that this development will be beneficial to the expansion of our city. Leaside cherishes its small and low-rise nature of its surroundings.

I grew up here since 1972. I have seen homes torn down and monster homes built in their place … (and) disgruntled locals. How can our children be able to afford houses in this area in the future? I can count on one hand how many bungalows remain, sadly.

Listening to parents whose children attend my school I hear they are not pleased with crowding and traffic concerns. More accidents have occurred with elementary school children in the last five years than any other time I can remember.

One of my students died two years ago from a car accident at an intersection. I feel large development is not needed in this area as we have enough development that has ruined the quiet surroundings I remember growing up.

These comments are (a result) of a large group discussion Thursday evening, and ever yone around the table, who lives here, agrees Diamond Corp. can find other areas in the city that would be more suitable than crowding Eglinton and Brentcliffe even further.

Development is good, but not at the expense of losing quality education, impacting small children, overcrowding of people and car traffic. It’s not the same neighbourhood and many are moving out.

Jody Kinsey,
Donlea Dr.

I was most disturbed to read the Eg-Brent article in your April edition. I hope it was an opinion piece but since it was labelled The business of Leaside, it appears to reflect the views of the publisher and the editor. Although the author Will Ashworth implies he is a resident of Leaside he clearly is not aware of the long-standing Leaside community plan of separating our residential area from our industrial area. This policy dates back to the 1940s and the days of Mayor Howard Talbot and his council.

When I had the privilege of serving as the Mayor of the Borough of East York, we formed a Leaside industrial association, at a time when the industrial area was under attack by apartment developers. The industrialists sent East York council and myself a clear message that if the area did not remain industrial and the height restriction did not remain in place they would leave.

Mercedes Benz agreed to stay and improve their site where they are today only after I personally assured them that the Leaside industrial area was sacrosanct.

Intensive traffic generated by commercial and residential development is anathema to industry. It drastically interfers with their deliveries and shipments.

If we want to see our remaining industries leave and take their jobs with them to Mississauga or Markham the way to do it is to approve more commercial and residential developments in the Leaside industrial area.

Alan Redway,
McRae Dr.

(Ed. Note: All stories with an author’s photo that identifies a column contain opinions of the author.)

I know I was not the only person offended by the Leaside Life column by Will Ashworth in your latest edition. His remarks were petty, personal and nasty, not at all in the vein of neighbourhood news we treasure in Leaside Life.

Count me as one of the “ornery” board members he describes, people who can and do quiz and question prospective developers who come to us with their plans for Leaside, including Mr. Diamond, someone we have worked with in the past.

Differing opinions? Fine! Personal attacks and name calling? Not fine! If you think an elected board of local residents should be agreeable to, and agreeing with, all comers, on every level, not looking for us to offer comments and ideas, and yes, criticism, then maybe we all need to rethink our commitment to community input on proposed projects. I for one value that right – and obligation.

Patricia Prentice,
Leacrest Rd.

In the April edition of Leaside Life, Will Ashworth, a business columnist, offers his opinions on the issues of density, development and the proposal for Eglinton and Brentcliffe. However, when he purports to report on the LPOA meeting his opinions seem to be based on fiction, rather than fact.

According to him “The LPOA board appeared in an ornery mood,” he “found that those in attendance were quick to judge the project in a negative manner even though they’d only just heard the plans for the first time,” our concerns about traffic were not “original,” and our concerns about a potential 500 additional school children were “a non-issue”.

So stunned by these accusations that I wondered if I’d been at a different meeting entirely, I took the time to listen to the complete audio recording of the meeting. Perhaps Mr. Ashworth would like a copy?

The LPOA board members (all but one of whom were present that evening) asked thoughtful, respectful questions of the architect and developer. Nobody appeared to be in an “ornery mood” – quite the opposite.

There were no calls to “drastically reduce the density of the project” although there were some suggestions to consider other models of mixed-use development, which might be more in keeping with the surrounding community. We certainly realize that increasing the density along the new LRT route can be desirable.

But walkable economically viable development doesn’t necessarily equal high rise towers; I would recommend that Mr. Ashworth do some research on what makes cities livable and vibrant, rather than simply quoting Christopher Hume on the subject of density.

The validity of a concern – such as traffic – is not judged on originality. It’s not artwork, it’s traffic. Five hundred additional school children are a mere back-of-a-napkin trifle to Mr. Ashworth, but to the schools in the area struggling to find classroom space, 50 additional children present a near-insurmountable challenge.

Ten times that many is enough for another school entirely; where would Mr. Ashworth like to put that, and has he informed the TDSB?

And finally, there is Mr. Ashworth’s impression that “For whatever reason the people that sit on the board of the LPOA seem to believe that they are singularly qualified to speak for the community when it comes to issues of development.”

The Leaside Property Owners’ Association is a ratepayer’s group. Perhaps Mr. Ashworth doesn’t know what ratepayers groups do?

Usually, like the LPOA, they advocate for the community when there are development issues affecting their constituents. Usually, like the LPOA, they reach out to their members to accurately reflect their concerns, spending many long hours in research, meetings with city officials and staff, holding and attending public meetings, and communicating with the community – all of it on a volunteer basis, because their members care very strongly about the community and city in which they live.

What unites us is a passion for our neighbourhood and the desire to see it continue to develop as a vibrant community where we can live, work and play.

A community that blindly and unquestioningly accepts every development proposal that comes its way is not a community with a vision for the future.

It’s a darn shame that Mr. Ashworth can’t see that.

Paddy Duncan,
LPOA board member

73 Laird Dr.

I just read the article regarding the building where Longo’s is now located and had to respectfully offer some corrections.

That building was acquired by E.S.& A. Robinson and the “Wagon Shop” was used for material storage. The company later became DRG Packaging, PNG Packaging and in its last few years Winpak Technolgies.

The original E.S.& A.R. building was 73 Laird Dr., later sold to a management company and now owned by Telus who added a fifth floor and beautifully remodelled it.

In my working life I spent 37 mostly good years on this site.

I have to admit that I thought designating the old CNR edifice as a heritage site was rather questionable but it is gratifying to see what a wonderful job has been done in revamping it into a Longo’s store.

Incidentally, Esandar Dr. was named for our company.

Howard Birnie,
Eglinton Ave. East (or Talbot Park)

Thank you

Thanks for publishing my piece on Leaside High (Leaside High as seen by Margaret Atwood, April).

I was also thrilled by the photo you posted of the Sunnybrook Plaza, circa 1952. I can see the roof of our house (19 Craig Cres.) over the top of the plaza. Our family moved to that house in 1953; it was a move up from a smaller house, 154 Hanna Rd.

My mother bought the Hanna Rd. house in 1941 (my dad, in the RCAF, was overseas). She bought the house from the builder. I have written about these two houses on my blog; spikeymom.wordpress.com

Elizabeth Bream,
Revera Leaside, Thorncliffe Park

Section 37 funds for Leaside Arena

The article in your April edition about the “$500,000 donation” to the Leaside Arena Expansion Project requires some clarification. Section 37 funds would not constitute a “donation”.

The City of Toronto is permitted under section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act to charge fees to a developer as a condition of approval of development applications that are of greater height or density than would otherwise be allowed. Such fees would be paid directly to the city to finance “community benefits” as negotiated between city staff and the applicant with input from the local councillor and the community.

The arena board is grateful for Councillor Parker’s ongoing and vocal championing of the project and would welcome any section 37 funds that may be allocated to help finance the new arena. But we have had no involvement in any negotiations in this regard nor is there any mechanism for us to be involved. And any such funds would not constitute a “donation.”

The arena board and expansion committee have heard from many individuals, businesses and other corporate entities interested in making a donation in return for naming rights to certain features of the new facility (the dressing rooms, the Zamboni, the clock etc.).

We have been aware of SmartCentre’s support for the expansion project since September 2011 when they offered the Paul Henderson jersey for use at a fundraising event and agreed to match donations raised that day up to $25,000. This donation was made with no naming right attached to it.

As reported in this newspaper’s February 2013 edition, when the new arena opens the original rink will thereafter be known as the Bert F. Grant rink in recognition of a $250,000 legacy gift made by his three children.

Anyone interested in having the new rink named for their company or in honour of a family member should contact the expansion committee. Discussions with prospective donors are always conducted in strict confidence.

Raymond White,
Chair, Board of Management,
Leaside Memorial Community Gardens

Bill Valliere

I read your article about Bill Valliere (April). It brought back a lot of memories. I used to go to his pet shop every day. I lived up the street on Rumsey. I swear I brought a kitten home whenever we did not have one.

Carol Wrigley,
Tanager Ave.

Aircraft noise

Looking at a recent map of the Heathrow noise footprint (published in the March 30 edition of The Economist), which measures noise over 55 db, I noticed that this footprint happens to fall over West London, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Now I don’t know whether residents in those neighbourhoods are just as outraged over the noise as some of those whose letters I have read in this publication but one thing I can be assured of is that it did not impact the values of their properties.

It would be interesting to know if such a map exists of Pearson airport and whether Leaside would even fall into the noise footprint of over 55 db of noise.

Benjamin Hunt,
Glenvale Blvd.

(Re: Ice age boulder for new hockey arena? April)

The company responsible for constructing the new Leaside Gardens arena expansion project is Aquicon Construction. They did not find a two metre long boulder resembling a baked potato nearby nor were they ever involved.

It was I, Jennifer Peattie, a local 20-year Leaside resident and also a volunteer for the Leaside 100 archival exhibit team for our centennial year celebrations who witnessed and saw the complete excavation process. The huge glacial erratic boulder was discovered on Feb. 25, 2013.

It was removed by the subcontracting company Gio Construction, who are at present replacing the city’s main waterline here on Sutherland Dr. between Markham Rd. and Millwood Rd. for the past three months.

It was found directly in front of 216 Sutherland Dr. on the curb, which is city owned property. The boulder on the same day was temporarily relocated by the Gio Construction crew to the north west corner of Lea Ave. and Sutherland Dr.

It remained at that location for an approximate duration of six weeks. Recently on Friday, March 22, it has been relocated once again. Where its out-of-the-way spot is now is a complete mystery to me…. Behind the new hockey arena?

I recognized and identified the glacial erratic by comparing it to the one already researched and on current display in front of our local library. I contacted the site foreman, Leo Giovannelli, of Gio Construction, and informed him how wonderful the much larger specimen was. He knew little if anything about its geological significance nor what it meant to the Leaside community’s history. To him it was simply a rock which needed to be permanently removed out of the way.

It could have ended up in a landfill or been offered to a Leaside resident for landscape purposes had I not intervened. I expressed my concern to Leo and explained how vitally important this discovery was. It was not his decision to make being that the glacial boulder was discovered on city property. Therefore by law it belonged to the city, which could do with it as it wished.

It was then that I took it upon myself to contact our local library and spoke with Linda Buch’s supervisor Patricia Eastman. I wanted to know if the library held any document records for the precambrian erratic currently plaqued and on display in front of our local library. Unfortunately they do not hold any records, therefore I was advised to contact our City Councillor John Parker.

I did so on March 12 and spoke with Virginia Gallop Evoy, John Parker’s special assistant. I informed her of the discovery and asked her if they were interested in keeping the glacial boulder here in the community. She said after further investigation and research proving it’s authenticity it would be highly considered. She kindly asked if I could take this task upon myself due to her work constraints.

Proactively, and pleased to do so, I contacted the Royal Ontario Museum. I spoke with Kathy Dutton, an employee in the geology department. I asked her if she could provide me with further information pertaining to the glacial erratic. She said once I provided her with more detail and photographs showing the glacial boulder’s size and scale, the ROM could easily confirm its authenticity.

On March 12, I corresponded to her via email in which I included three of my own photographs and also sent the same email to the attention of John Parker.

The very same day I received a phone call from Virginia Envoy confirming that they were indeed interested in the boulder and that it would be placed in front of the new hockey arena. She asked if I could contact Leo Giovannelli to get in touch with John Parker immediately. Which obviously he did seeing he took all the credit for all my endeavours.

Needlesss to say after reading last month April’s issue of Leaside Life, I am beyond disappointed for not being recognized, valued nor truly appreciated.

Jennifer Peattie,
Sutherland Dr.

Bayview BIA

I arrived on Bayview Ave. back in 1979, when I purchased Allen’s Home Hardware. When I first arrived, Bayview Ave. merchants had a merchants’ association – Bayview Business Association.

As long as the merchants participated in meetings, promotions, and had a cohesive governing committee, the association functioned well enough. However, sometime in the ‘80s, a general apathy among the merchants set in, and it wasn’t too long before the BBA ceased to function.

Throughout the ‘80s, until the present time, a BIA was mooted, but not without determined opposition from some vocal business owners.

In the current business climate, forming a BIA has become more crucial than ever. As a business group, Bayview merchants face increasing competition – from other successful BIAs. One doesn’t have to look far for that competition; Leaside Village on Laird Ave, Mt. Pleasant, Danforth Ave. – just to name a few.

Those other merchants have discovered an important fact: we are all business partners on the street, whether we know it or not. A BIA, like the (defunct) BBA, is an important mechanism to allow merchants to work in concert to attract business to our area.

Forming a BIA, however, is not the end of the story. An important lesson has to be drawn from the BBA experience. It is not enough to form the organization – our merchants have to shed their apathy.

Other writers have expounded on the various advantages that a BIA has over a common Business Association. It has to be stressed, however, that once formed, a successful BIA has to enjoy the enthusiastic participation of all its members, to the benefit of all its members.

Raymond Gork,
Leaside Paint Centre