Letters – May 2014

Our book club is committed to help Bayview

The March 2014 cover piece by Patricia Phenix and the debate by Kettel  vs  Ashworth on pages 20-21,  which focused on Bayview’s bleak business outlook, couldn’t be more timely. A stroll down the street on our first warm day in March substantiated this for me.

Retail is ailing throughout the province due to cheap Big Box imports, online shopping and the restricted job market, but the loss of seven stores/restaurants on Bayview in the past year magnifies this in volumes.

Add to this: cocooning at home due to polar vortex conditions, lack of free car and bike parking, overzealous parking attendants, constant road/sidewalk/utility repairs, high rents and new retail centres on Laird….

And the prognosis is a real and present danger to our neighbourhood shopping street. 

For some, the retail experience is mediocre with too many restaurants and shops offering the same products, and this will only be exacerbated by the arrival of Whole Foods and potentially a new COSTCO store in Thorncliffe.

It’s enough to make any retailer throw in the towel!

But there is something that we can do to help. As Nancy Penny (Absolute Beauty) says, “Unless Leasiders shop regularly on this street, it will be gone and soon.”

Bayview is a street-style promenade where relationships with store owners and community neighbours need to be preserved.

In keeping with this, one small North Leaside Book Club (of which I am a member) has made a commitment to support our struggling South Bayview merchants. Our goal is to purchase more from the mix of independent restaurants, boutiques and commodity stores on Bayview.

This commitment has also been made by the 140-member strong Leaside Garden Society.

All it takes is one small step for the ripple effect to work.

Will your company, organization, church, neighbours, etc., rise to this commitment to shop locally too?

Perhaps this will give the merchants the impetus that they need to join together and form a Business Improvement Area. It may also refocus Bayview to a prestigious, vibrant business area and streetscape.

Carolynn Beange,
Broadway Ave.

Two issues of bellyaching

For the last two issues of Leaside Life, I’ve read the bellyaching about how badly Bayview is suffering.

One would think the reasons were obvious. Then again it would require the ability to see beyond one’s borders.

Laird and Bayview serve two very different groups of people, one very diverse in ethnicity, nationality, social status, to name a few, the latter very narrow.

Laird also has a larger selection of retail stores and restaurants to choose from. Can Laird improve with more speciality stores? Most definitely. Bayview has limited choices in comparison.

From my experience and those of my friends, Laird’s hospitality is better for regular and prospecting customers. Bayview’s hospitality is less welcoming to the non-five minute radius pedestrian regulars.

As a resident within East York, if/when the chance arises, I will choose Laird over Bayview to shop around, dine, etc.

Anyone can throw suggestions around. However, only Bayview storefront owners and the immediate surrounding community can clearly define what they want for their future.

If everyone is comfortable with the current status quo, then stop the complaining. If Bayview wants to revive itself, then they better open their eyes and start looking at other districts for ideas on how to revitalize into a positive, diverse welcoming area.

Marie Jackson,
Eglinton Ave. East

Concerned about school safety at Rolph

I’m very concerned about student safety in the mornings going to Rolph Road school on days that the dumpster is emptied. Why is this done at around 8 a.m. when children are walking or being dropped off at school?

The garbage trucks are very large and have to back up in the school parking lot into the street. The street in front of Rolph Road is lined with parked cars and the buses are picking up students in front of the school. There is no room for error and it is a very dangerous situation.

Also, the drivers of the garbage trucks are speeding and often wearing sunglasses and don’t look like they are mindful of the students or cars around the parking lot or in the street. This morning the garbage truck was trying to fit between parked cars and my son’s bus with parents and students crossing the road.

I called the Waste Management company about six months ago complaining about the trucks speeding and received a very nice phone call, but nothing was done about it. They still speed and drive dangerously in the morning.

Why not empty the garbage at an earlier time, like 6 a.m. or after school is out in the evenings?

I’m really worried that someone will be hit and only then will the city think about changing the pick-up time.

I think there are many parents concerned about this and I think it should be addressed.

Russsell Schaeffler,
Rolph Rd.

How many seniors can we house?

The presentation that Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s chief planner, gave to Leasiders April 9 could aptly be titled Ideology in Motion.

She displayed a slide of Eglinton with condos, only two cars on a narrow street, an LRT, while a girl in a flowing dress happily rode her bicycle. I had to look closer to see if the girl had Toto in her carrier.

Keesmaat said we’re building condos so seniors can live in their own neighourhoods. Just how many seniors are you planning to house?

She said we’re building condos so young people can walk to work because they don’t want to drive. Really? What happens when all these young people couple up and want a little backyard with a place for a kiddie splash pool?

It’s back to the suburbs and another generation of gridlock because you failed to anticipate what our future needs will really be.

Are you enabling our needs for the future or just enabling what developers want now?

You boasted about putting a few flower pots on a few rooftops, and that now we have fewer smog days. It is a fact that our smog comes from West Virginia-Pennsylvania and that with the economic downturn less coal has been burned to produce electricity and that is why we have fewer smog days.

You boast that emissions will be reduced by 180,000 tonnes without adding a calculation of the emissions to be added because of LRT construction.

Oh, and you fudged the question about the future of Eglinton between Bayview and Laird by saying it would be put in abeyance (until after the Eglinton Connects plan is safely approved?), but that there would be a pilot zoning for up to four floors at Eglinton and Hanna Rd.

Beware Leaside, beware Toronto of what might happen if you let a sidewalk designer decide the future of a great city.

Meanwhile, Leaside’s claim to a major “main” street could be established by a Leaside Festival modelled after the Yonge-Eglinton site of the Toronto Street Festival.

Bayview would close, Saturday and Sunday, starting Friday night after rush hour, from Parkhurst and Millwood, to accommodate kiddie rides (it drew huge crowds to the Toronto Street Festival). Many local businesses or services would want to rent a table. You also could have a stage with a roster of musicians.

On Saturday night they had a kiddie movie night at the Yonge-Lawrence site. Or line up a headliner musical attraction.

Bob Murphy,
Eglinton Ave. East

A threat to family and friends

Editor’s Note: This letter to Leaside Life was written about the city’s transportation committee plan, requested by Councillor John Parker for improvements to parking on Glenvale Blvd. Parker called a meeting for March 27 at Northlea United Church to discuss the proposals. Jim Krafchik and Tor Williams, both Glenvale residents, distributed letters to neighbours to fight them. The plan was rejected by Parker before the meeting convened.

I think what upset me most about what happened was that I perceived it as a threat to family, friends and the freedom to enjoy both.

It began innocuously enough with a yellow, two-paged, double-sided flier with Councillor John Parker’s picture on the front. The catch line did its job: “Let’s improve street parking on Glenvale.”

For those not in the know, Glenvale Blvd. is on the north end of Leaside. It parallels Eglinton Ave. East from Brentcliffe Rd. on the east to Bayview Ave. on the west.

The flier proposed the standardization of parking the entire 10-block length of the street. What became apparent very quickly was, if the measures being proposed were to become law, my own children would have but one hour to park legally were they to come for dinner before 8 p.m. and they would not be allowed to park on our street at all during rush hours (8-10 a.m., 4-6 p.m.).

It was the “rush hour” restriction that caught my attention. Glenvale? Rush hour? It didn’t make sense! Turns onto Bayview Ave. northbound are not allowed from Glenvale during either “rush hour”. Why would John Parker want to clear our street for traffic during rush hours?

I felt helpless. How does one deal with a steamroller coming your way? The only thing that I could think to do was to communicate with as many neighbours as possible on Glenvale and ask them to voice their opinion on the proposals. The yellow flier spoke of a meeting with Mr. Parker to take place in about six days, and I wondered how many of my Glenvale neighbours had read and understood the flier. So I turned to the computer to put together a letter to Mr. Parker, with the intention of emailing it to Mr. Parker and printing about 50 copies of it to deliver to some mail boxes along my street.

Truthfully, I was terrified. With my thoughts exposed on paper, and my name, address and phone number there too, I expected a lot of opposition to my complaints.

There was an awful lot of anger and frustration; however, I did not experience it until the actual meeting with Mr. Parker. My neighbours were having trouble controlling themselves as they charged John Parker and transportation committee’s Jay Malone with ignoring residents’ concerns for years and then coming up with a half-baked idea to solve all problems with this not-so-popular proposal.

Mr. Parker has shelved this plan to “improve” parking on my street by “restricting” parking.

I’m filled with gratefulness that my neighbours were able to help me, and I am filled with understanding at their frustrations for not having been able to see their concerns addressed. Many of them suffer from speeding traffic and extreme difficulty exiting their own driveways. Many more fear the LRT construction will make matters for us worse.

Maybe it’s time for more letters to neighbours.

Jim Krafchik,
Glenvale Blvd.