“Seek the peace of the city. When the city prospers, everyone prospers.”

To light or not to Light. Map of Leaside intersection.
To light or not to Light.

To Light... or not to Light?

Anyone who attends Glenview Presbyterian Church in Lawrence Park is probably aware of the City of Toronto sign that overlooks Yonge St. with a painting of the church adorned with these beautiful words.

Those familiar with the Bible might know this message originates from Jeremiah, Chapter 29, Verse 7. A layman’s interpretation would be to live your life in as positive a manner as possible because then everyone wins.

What’s this got to do with Leaside business? A lot more than you might realize.

In recent articles, when I haven’t been sparring with the residents of Parkhurst Ave. over the righteousness of a traffic light at Bayview, I’ve been trying to pump up the morale of Leaside businesses, both on Bayview and Laird Dr.

You see, I believe that when the businesses of Leaside prosper, we all prosper. That said, when a business isn’t living up to its potential, I’m not going to paper over the truth. In the past, I’ve been highly critical of the sporadic operating hours of some businesses on Bayview, and will continue to point this out as long as it remains an issue.

Recently, it’s come to my attention that a petition supported by the Leaside Property Owners Association (LPOA) has been making the rounds to ensure a traffic light doesn’t see the light of day at Bayview and Parkhurst. We live in a democracy; that’s their right.

Leasiders supporting this petition have taken to calling on doors west of Bayview to gain support from residents of Davisville Village and Councillor Josh Matlow.

It’s one thing to take its argument to the residents of Leaside but to cross over into territory capably supported by the South Eglinton Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association (SERRA) is an incredibly ballsy move that threatens the ability of the two neighbourhoods to work together for their mutual common good.

Ironically, the LPOA’s opposition to a traffic light could have unintended negative consequences for Bayview businesses, the same people to whom it gave $25,000 when the Bayview-Leaside BIA was formed in 2015.

The financial downside to protesting a light

The Winnipeg Free Press recently reported that the City of Winnipeg is considering installing temporary traffic lights at an intersection where local businesses have been affected by the construction of an underpass that’s hurting customer access.

“I think we need to be looking out for small businesses when we’re building major capital projects,” Councillor Marty Morantz told the paper on November 22. “I would consider (similar proposals) for any business in the city. It’s a reasonable accommodation.”

Now, consider how many empty stores exist on the east side of Bayview between Fleming Cres. and Parkhurst. There are five at the moment with a sixth to come when Fantasy Lingerie closes its doors. And when it does, there will be four doors in a row sitting empty, hardly the message the BIA wants to put out there.

You might think this is a coincidence and chalk it up to the retail industry going through some Amazon reckoning where businesses are being killed off like Walking Dead zombies, but that would ignore the reality staring us in the face.

Bayview is getting a reputation for being a no-drive zone where the best solution is to avoid it altogether on the commute to and from work. Once drivers take another route downtown that’s not quite so dangerous, the strip goes from top-of-mind to nonexistent and with it any hope of grabbing some of that business.

Don’t think that’s possible?

The LCBO used to locate its stores on the east side of Toronto streets to ensure it got the commuter crowd driving by on their way home.

Once the word gets around that Bayview and Parkhurst is accident hell (it probably already has)Bayview businesses can forget about ever becoming a destination shopping district.

Loath to change

Did you know that the first traffic light in Toronto was installed in 1924 at Yonge and Bloor? More than 2,300 traffic lights have been installed since, including seven on Bayview from Kilgour Rd. all the way south to Moore Ave.

The most recent light (Kilgour) was installed in December, 2003 for the opening of the CNIB. The next most recent light installation was July, 1962, over 55 years ago. The first light was activated at Fleming in September, 1958.

So, six lights were added to Bayview over the span of four years and then nothing was done to change the traffic landscape of Bayview until 2003, some four decades later.

I counted 101 lights that were added by the city after Kilgour was installed in 2003, going alphabetically from the As to Eglinton, at which time I gave up the count. That’s an awful lot of lights without a single change to Bayview.

Leasiders have been lulled to sleep by the City’s inaction in the area, and it likely costs Bayview businesses located near Parkhurst and Bayview the most.

If a light doesn’t get installed, my life will go on, but Bayview businesses will suffer the consequences of a selfish movement that fails to consider the bigger picture. Happy New Year.

About Will Ashworth 51 Articles
Will Ashworth contributes to Leaside Life.