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I love my main street contest

Bayview - Main Street contest
Enter to win a $2000 VIA Rail voucher and maybe help Leaside’s Bayview Ave. Take a photo of Bayview and submit it by March 31 to Heritage Canada’s I LOVE MY MAIN STREET contest.

‘Friends’ help him survive the LRT

Luigi Lavecchia and Bill Burgbyne

Long-time customer Bill Burgoyne moved along with barber Luigi Lavecchia when he had to close the Leaside Barber Shop, at Sutherland and Eglinton, after owning it for 36 years. Lavecchia now works at Mr. Barber Lounge on Eglinton. Photo: Patricia Phenix

“I’m 65, but I tell people I was really born in 1967, the year I came to Canada,” says irrepressibly jovial barber Luigi Lavecchia, known as Lui to his customers.

Lavecchia’s good humour is remarkable considering that within the last month his business, the Leaside Barber Shop, operating at 423 Sutherland for 36 years, was forced to close due to rent increases and LRT construction nearby.

“The landlord expects the LRT to be some kind of big financial windfall for businesses on the strip, so he wanted to raise the rent by 50 percent,” says Lavecchia, adding that he is just one in a long line of business owners that have gone under due to the high amounts being asked. “The pharmacy at the corner closed because of them, and so did Cleopatra’s hair salon,” he says. [click to continue…]

Anger at big plans for Laird

146-150 Laird Drive Perspective=In last month’s column I reported on The Brown Group’s application to build a block-long nine-storey condominium-plus-mixed-use building on the west side of Bayview between Soudan and Hillsdale. Now I have two more development applications to report, one along the west side of Laird south of McRae, and the other at Bayview and Eglinton to replace Sunnybrook Plaza.

Both represent real challenges to the character and scale of Leaside.

Several hundred very concerned Leasiders filled the William Lea Room at the official meeting held by the city’s planning department on Feb. 9 into the application by VIVA Retirement Communities for 146-150 Laird, across from the Smart Centre mall, a very large site that includes the two three-storey office/ retail buildings south of McRae, as well as the Golden Griddle restaurant and its parking lot. [click to continue…]

We’re taking a holiday next month

Leaside Life is a small operation, which makes it hard to take a sun break at this time of year. It’s been three winters, with this one especially bad, so the time has come to head south. We’ll be skipping the April edition, but back for the May paper. The usual deadline applies: April 10. Meanwhile, we hope the worst of the bad weather is over for all of you.

Development pressures are leading residents of Bennington Heights to prepare for at least one impending battle at the Ontario Municipal Board.

On Jan. 22, more than 50 homeowners joined a fundraiser for Save Our Bennington at the home of long-time residents Nancy and John Kellett.

In his opening remarks, Councillor Jon Burnside indicated his strong support for efforts to protect the character of the community and oppose a developer’s request to build four houses at 27-31 Evergreen Gardens where there are currently two original homes. [click to continue…]

Allan WilliamsAllan Williams, who writes for Leaside Life and was on the Leaside Memorial Gardens board of management, has been exposed.

He won’t like being singled out that way because, as another former board member, Paul Mercer, says, he’s humble.

Williams, says Mercer, would come up with great ideas, but when they came to fruition and crowds were around getting it all going, he was off attending to something else.

That’s what happens during the Leaside Athlete of the Year inductions. His idea, but he’s behind the scenes during all the speeches.

The case of the six beautiful new hand-crafted wood benches at the arena is another example. [click to continue…]

Only 3 homes were sold in January

Street Sales January 2015

Click to enlarge

This past January, only three homes changed hands in Leaside (none in Bennington Heights), which was much fewer than the 10 homes that sold in January 2014.

There was a significant lack of inventory this past January, which produces some interesting home transactions. Notably, a home on Eglinton sat on the market for 49 days and still sold for 11 percent over asking price.

Last month we commented on a North Leaside bungalow that sold for $1,203,000. It was on a 35-foot frontage.

What a difference a month makes, along with location and frontage.

In January a 23-foot frontage South Leaside bungalow sold for $752,000. Location and frontage are two key factors for builders in Leaside. [click to continue…]

Briefs

Correction: The front page of the previous print issue said the highest price paid for a bungalow in Leaside in January last year was $580,000. It should have said the first price paid.

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The annual Spring Into Action! Walk or Run for Diabetes event at Sunnybrook Park expects to raise $65,000 this year to send eight children to the York University Sports Camp for Kids this summer. Since 2006 the run has supported the camp, the Sunnybrook Hospital Diabetes Foundation and the I Challenge Diabetes Organization.

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Rio-Can, which recently announced development plans for Sunnybrook Plaza at Eglinton and Bayview, has bought out its partner at the Leaside Centre at Eglinton and Laird, where Canadian Tire is the anchor. A Rio-Can statement says the site will host a secondary entrance to the LRT but says nothing about possible future redevelopment.

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The Leaside Garden Society has agreed to help collect usable gardening items, like garden pots and trays for collecting water, for Thorncliffe Park, by distributing information about the request. The Thorncliffe Park Urban Farmers are trying to encourage balcony gardening and will be hosting a free seed exchange in May, when they will be handing out collected garden equipment.

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Eight Leaside residents have received awards from MP John Carmichael for the volunteer work they do: Patrick Rocca, Alan Redway, Andrew Griffin, Geoff Kettel, Hugh Grant, Paul Mercer, Donna Lu Mitchell and Wendy Evans.

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Are you part of a group of individuals involved in sponsoring refugees? If so, we’d like to hear from you.

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City council formally approved a Business Improvement Area for Bayview on Feb. 10 in response to business owners who voted last fall for its creation. The next step will be the creation of the BIA’s board of directors and executive, which will decide on the name for the BIA.

Leaside Stock Index January 2015The U.S. dollar was the star of the Leaside Stock Index in January for the second consecutive month. The LSI’s overall portfolio of 20 stocks achieved a total return of 3.7 percent, barely squeaking out a 43-point victory over its two ETF benchmarks.

In the first month of 2015 the 10 American stocks in the portfolio achieved a total return including currency of 5.3 percent, 330 basis points higher than the 10 Canadian stocks. Excluding currency, the Canadian stocks actually did 5.1 percent better than their American counterparts. [click to continue…]

New Lions club reaches its goal

Raija Rosenthal has succeeded in reaching her goal of 20 members necessary to apply for a charter as a Lions Club in Leaside.

Named the Leaside100 Lions in honour of the neighbourhood’s 100th anniversary in 2013, it has already pledged support for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.

The club met Feb. 3 to elect officers and Rosenthal predicts it will have its charter within two months. A charter celebration is being planned for the new members, their families and guests. Rosenthal predicts up to 100 may attend.

A local church for animals

Under the principle of loving “all creatures great and small,” Northlea United Church at 125 Brentcliffe Rd. recently invited Pawsitively Pets owner Jennifer Ego to set up shop on the second floor of their premises.

“From our point of view, it fits in perfectly with the philosophy of our church,” says board member John Dundy, who helped spearhead the idea. “We already have dog training courses, and the blessing of animals.”

Pawsitively Pets hosts children’s parties, and even a camp, where children can interact with animals. Its former premises on Parkhurst was recently purchased by SmartCentre for development.

Both Dundy and Ego worked closely on renovations, including soundproofing the space so that the animals, including cockatoos, snakes, rabbits and chinchillas don’t disrupt either churchgoers or other tenants, including a Montessori School.

“We don’t keep dogs or cats because they need a home environment,” says Ego.

All the animals are rescues.

Leaside Life became part of problem

Leaside Life litter

Hi Cheryl:

Congrats on becoming a Leaside Life columnist. Ironically, the copy of the new issue that I began perusing was one I picked up off the sidewalk on Bayview–it was litter!

Jeff Walker,
Donegall Dr.

Retail litter

Recently I received an email from a kindred litter elf. She had just read the article in Leaside Life about my litter program.

Her home backs onto Sandy Bruce Park (across from Loblaws on Moore). For several years she has taken responsibility for clearing the litter from the park in the spring and whenever she saw it getting out of control.

The worst offender, she thinks, is the Loblaws parking lot litter that blows across Moore and catches on the outside of the park fence, making it look very ugly from the road. She has wanted to speak to the Loblaws manager about the problem, but was afraid her complaints would be “blown off”. [click to continue…]

Letters – March 2015

She thought Sunnybrook could not be changed

Really enjoy Leaside Life. I feel it keeps me up to date on all that is happening in our area.

I was not altogether shocked to see that there is a proposal to build on Sunnybrook Plaza. However, I was told many years ago that Sunnybrook Plaza was the first strip mall in Canada (not just Toronto) and because of that it was grade two listed and could not be changed.

It is almost the only place in the immediate area where you can park and shop, has a great pharmacy, hardware store plus a few other important stores. I cannot see two condo towers in this space or perhaps I do not want to.

Regarding litter, I am tired of the lazy people around Bayview and Eglinton bus stops who just drop their litter anywhere other than the litter bin. The four bus stops on the south east corner appear to be the worst offenders. There are no garbage bins in this area, however there is one outside 1750 Bayview that is very lonely and requires garbage. Maybe this could be moved over there? Does the city look at these very dirty areas?

Margaret Seal,
Bayview Ave. [click to continue…]

Disappointed by the developer’s attitude

Once again we have another proposal that is not in keeping with the current zoning by-laws. The applicant hoping to redevelop the site at 146 -150 Laird Dr. (Golden Griddle and Durant Motors heritage building) participated in the statutory community consultation at the Leaside Arena this month.

The standing room only turnout at the Leaside arena reflected residents’ significant and widespread concerns about the developer’s plans for the Laird site. I was heartened by community consensus that building an eight- and a seven-storey retirement home / condo residence is far too large and will have profound consequences for the community at large — but especially Randolph Rd. residents whose homes back onto the site.

However, I was extremely disappointed by the “interpretation” of the Official Plan by the developer, which, in my opinion, is aggressively unbalanced in their favour. [click to continue…]

Residents say they’re ready to move

Local realtor Patrick Rocca says that five or six residents of Randolph Rd. have already approached him to say they’ll sell their homes if the VIVA Retirement Communities proposal to build an eight-storey rental retirement building at 146-150 Laird Dr. is approved.

“One guy who sold his place last year said, ‘Thank God I did,'” he says.

Rocca predicts that house values on Randolph will fall by as much as 20-30 percent due to shading and lack of privacy.

“That’s a minimum,” he says, on the east side. On the west side, “It will knock 5-10 percent off.

“Imagine walking out your front door and you’re immediately looking at this eight-storey structure.”

Rocca compares the situation to one that has been happening the last few years on Bayview, south of Broadway, where developers hope to replace houses with condos.

“I know homeowners have been approached to sell their properties. For that reason house values on the west side of Bessborough (whose backyards abut the houses and low-rise apartment buildings on Bayview) are lower than those on the east side.”

Asked if he predicts the proposed development will be approved, Rocca says, “Probably not eight stories, more likely five, but something is inevitable.”

Wonders of Winter

These photos are part of a contest for Bessborough school pupils this year.

Otis Robichard, Grade 8

Otis Robichard, Grade 8

Kelvey Goldhar-Killck, Grade 7

Kelvey Goldhar-Killck, Grade 7

Emily Xu, Grade 7

Emily Xu, Grade 7

Ryan Bolger, Grade 8

Ryan Bolger, Grade 8

From left John Horn and Cameron Roberts.

From left John Horn and Cameron Roberts. Third person unable to attend.

This review column has already done something good: Both of our reviewers went right home and told their wives they would soon be taken out to dinner, to Rollian Sushi in Sunnybrook Plaza.

“I hope to make this a regular destination in the Leaside area,” said Cameron Roberts, Donegall Dr.

“I highly recommend you spend an evening at Rollian. Just make sure you come with an empty stomach,” said John Horn, Randolph Rd.

“Walking up to Rollian you are met with an elegant visage from the outside that is echoed when you enter. The decor is fresh and you are greeted by the chef behind the typical sushi bar. Unfortunately, there were no other dine-in patrons in the restaurant throughout the course of the evening.” – Roberts [click to continue…]

New Leaside blog to pick brains

When Robyn Hochglaube of Astor Ave. was looking for a cleaning lady recently she had no resources where she could obtain advice, or in her words “pick the brains” of fellow Leasiders.

And so she created the Facebook page Leaside Community (which recently logged in its 366th member) where residents can find up-to-date information about school activities, sporting events and garage sales, as well as discuss the quality of services available.

Hochglaube also foresees it as a place where parents can seek general advice about businesses, babysitters, as well as buy, sell or trade gently worn sports equipment, and clothing.

In time Hochglaude plans to liaise with local businesses, especially along Laird, in hopes that they will also utilize the site.

A seismic shift at Committee of Adjustment?

It seemed like a seismic shift in the Committee of Adjustment; the New York Times would call it an “epiphany”. The committee turned down the application for minor variances at 438 Broadway Ave. based on it not meeting the four tests of the Planning Act:

  1. Is the variance minor?
  2. Would the granting of the variance result in a development that would be desirable for the appropriate development or use of the applicant’s land or building?
  3. Does the variance requested maintain the general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law? and
  4. Does the variance requested maintain the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan (OP)?

And even more interesting, the committee member who made the motion took pains to point out that her major concern was that the application did not reflect the character of the neighbourhood. The Official Plan states in Chapter 4, Section 4.5 that:

  • “No changes shall be made through re-zoning, minor variance, consent or other public action that are out of keeping with the physical character of the neighbourhood.”

[click to continue…]

The ‘Saint’ behind rare Meals on Wheels club

Midge Sandiland should be awarded the Saint of the Year Award says Jim Garvie, a Leacrest Rd. resident for 55 years.

Garvie, now in his 80s, says Sandiland goes out of her way to help people, and he is happy to take advantage. He’s doing it as a member of her Diners’ Club, a bit of a rare outgrowth of the East York Meals on Wheels (EYMOW) program.

The club has been in place since 1979 when the EYMOW board got a government grant to help start up a new program to get people out of their homes, and to a social event, with a meal cooked in the kitchen at Leaside United Church and served in the Hearth Room there.

Sandiland has been involved since those early days, and is now the Diners’ Club coordinator for EYMOW. [click to continue…]