≡ Menu

Will a bit of Leaside be on our currency?

Agnes McPhail 100 dollar billThat woman in the funny money above is Agnes Macphail, a one-time Leaside resident who lived at the corner of Donegall and Millwood.

She was also the first woman elected as a Member of Parliament in Canada and had a stellar record of advocating for social justice issues, both at the federal level and subsequently as an MPP in Ontario representing York East.

Starting March 8, International Women’s Day, the Bank of Canada asked Canadians to nominate an iconic woman, who died at least 25 years ago, to be featured on a Canadian banknote to be issued in 2018. The nomination period closed on April 15. By then, there were 127 names on the list, including Queen Victoria and Laura Secord. [click to continue…]

Survey says our biggest worry is about traffic

The April 15 deadline for responses to our resident survey has passed. With the huge development proposal for 939 Eglinton East in mind (and in the knowledge that Leaside in general has become a prime development target) the survey was organized to gather Leasiders’ opinions and comments on what we want for the future of our community.

The full results of the survey will be released shortly, but in the meanwhile I can give you a bit of a preview. There have been over 2,250 responses, a very high response rate.

What are residents’ greatest concerns about the highrise proposal for 939 Eglinton East? [click to continue…]

We make new complaint against same OMB Member

“Whatever the outcome, we (the residents and the LPOA) presented a well thought out position to the Ontario Municipal Board, and in so doing clearly indicated the community’s concerns and the areas where the proposal was in contravention of the city’s Official Plan.”  (Doug Obright’s reflection on the three-day OMB hearing for 146-150 Laird Dr., Feb. 29 to March 2.)

“Whatever the outcome.” Yes indeed! Unfortunately the events that transpired before and during the OMB hearing have led the LPOA to make an official complaint about the conduct of the Board Member:

“In the interests of justice and fairness, we request that the Environment and Land Tribunal Ontario review the conduct of the adjudicator in this case”. [click to continue…]

A double-sided billboard outside Leaside Memorial Community Gardens could be in for a facelift that would generate four times the annual rental for the arena and reduce the cost of ice time.

That would be done by making the sign digital and having one side, facing south, available for renting by other companies. The north-facing side would display arena events and other Leaside happenings.

In 2014 the arena received about $9,300. That would increase to $45,000 says Outfront Media, the sign’s owner, which has rented the space on the arena property for 20 years. The new board would cost Outfront Media $250,000 to build and install. [click to continue…]

Curious Idler – May 2016

Storm sends St. Anselm steeple flapping

Powerful winds badly damaged St. Anselm’s towering church steeple – a Leaside landmark – on Easter Monday. Copper plates ominously sprang loose on the 52-year-old spire, and noisily flapped like a ship’s sail. One big plate vanished.

A 911 call brought police; passersby were diverted; neighbours moved cars out of danger; and the principal of the (empty) St. Anselm’s School was alerted. Two days later, in calmer weather, a crane hoisted workers 140 feet to the steeple’s peak, and they began to make cladding safe. A next step may be to rebuild the whole steeple, reduce its size – or remove it. [click to continue…]

Leaside’s first athlete of the year, Martha McCabe, has once again won a spot on Canada’s Olympic team. She’ll compete in the 200-meter breaststroke in Rio this summer.

McCabe, raised in Bennington Heights and a Leaside High graduate, was on the Canadian Olympic team in 2012 in London. She finished fifth.

She won a bronze medal the year before in the World Championship. Last year she won a silver in the Pam Am games in Toronto.

Donwood comes back to CAMH

Final preparations are under way for Bellwood Health Services (formerly the Donwood Institute) to move back this fall to 175 Brentcliffe Rd., owned by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The 65,000-square-foot building sits on nine acres of parkland and has been vacant since 2008 when the Donwood Institute moved downtown to CAMH’s 1001 Queen West facility. A $5 million renovation is under way.

Bellwood Health Services was founded by Dr. Gordon Bell in 1984, operating at its current facility on McNicoll Ave. for the past 32 years. Prior to Bellwood, Dr. Bell founded the Donwood Institute in 1967 on the current property at Brentcliffe.

The renovation will increase the number of beds at Bellwoods by almost 50 percent to 85.

Linda Bell, who co-founded Bellwood with her late father and was CEO until August 2014, is excited to be returning to Leaside.

“It’s a move that is long overdue,” she said recently. “The timing is right to move to the next level.”

Susan Bardi, left, Caryl Patrick and Marc Etherington at Olde Yorke Fish & Chips

Susan Bardi, left, Caryl Patrick and Marc Etherington at Olde Yorke Fish & Chips. We give $100 to help pay for a meal for three Leasiders at any restaurant in our area, the M4G postal code, which includes Leaside, Bennington Heights and the Leaside Business Park (known also as the industrial area).

“There is a well-known axiom within the realm of food and beverage that advises (or cautions) patrons of establishments to stick to the house’s themed cuisine; it’s one I would have been better to have listened to,” said Marc Etherington.

On a recent Tuesday, Etherington and two friends — Susan Bardi and Caryl Patrick — sat down to partake in all the good things Olde Yorke Fish & Chips, on Laird, had to offer, including the usual packed house.

While Etherington wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about his meal, his dinner companions were much happier with theirs. [click to continue…]

Look for higher home prices

Leaside & Bennington sales figures to March 2016

Click to enlarge

April and May are considered our busiest months so expect very large prices in Leaside and Bennington Heights this spring.

For example, some sales that have already happened:

Several homes sold that would be considered building lots. A Bennington Heights home went for lot value of $1,775,000. It has a 50- x 95-foot lot. South Leaside saw several homes with 30-foot frontages sell above $1.5 million. A bungalow on Leacrest sold for almost $1.4 million.

Semi-detached homes don’t offer rebuilding, but they are leading the pack with a 19.6 percent annual increase over last year. So far the first quarter values are up 17.3 percent over 2015’s first quarter. [click to continue…]

LRT may kill buses on Eglinton

Picture this:

It’s 2021 and the new Eglinton LRT is finally operating. The years of digging, noise and disruption during its construction are over. You emerge from the underground LRT station at Bayview Ave.at mid-afternoon, to wait for a bus that will take you along Eglinton to Rumsey, to pick up your child from Northlea school. Or to get to your doctor’s office, located halfway between Bayview and Mt. Pleasant.

You wait. And you wait. No bus.

Or, it’s evening. You live halfway between Bayview and Laird, a few blocks north or south of Eglinton. Perhaps it’s raining. Or snowing. Or you’re tired, and you decide to catch a bus to get you closer to home. No bus is in view. So you wait. And you wait. [click to continue…]

Letters – May 2016

James G. Heller

A crisis ‘unleashed by the… LRT… is the result of the structural demographic deficit wrought by the amalgamation of the six boroughs of the old Metropolitan Toronto in 1988.’ ~ James G. Heller

A crisis is threatening the welfare and quality of life of my beloved Leaside. The threat arises from the tsunami of proposed and yet to be disclosed redevelopment projects unleashed by the Crosstown LRT.

I believe this crisis is the result of the structural democratic deficit wrought by the amalgamation of the six boroughs of the old Metropolitan Toronto in 1998 creating the new City of Toronto. At the time, the justification for amalgamation was based on the savings that would come from combining borough administrations into centralized city departments.

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether this increase in efficiency has been accompanied by an even greater loss in administrative effectiveness, I ask the more pertinent question: Has amalgamation led to the loss of democratic representation by Toronto communities like Leaside, which struggle to make their concerns heard and defended at City Hall? The indisputable answer to this question has to be a resounding Yes! [click to continue…]

First time two Flames teams made the finals

For the first time anyone can recall, two Leaside Flames teams made their respective provincial championship tournaments this year, representing the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) against the regional champs from other parts of the province.

They both did well, but fell just short of winning it all.

The Bantam As finished second in the round robin tournament format, the Peewee As in a three-way tie for first, forcing a play-off where they ended up third. [click to continue…]

George Hart

George Hart

We have been here before. In September 2013 Lorna Krawchuk wrote an engaging article in Leaside Life about George Hart who writes poetry.

At that time George was only 99. Now he is 101. His friends expect he will make it to 102 next October — no sweat.

Not much has changed for George. He goes for a daily walk in his Leaside neighbourhood. And most days he either writes a poem – usually a love poem – or translates French verse, sometimes centuries old.

Once a week, Rosel, his caregiver, comes by and sings for him sweetly. As she leaves, she gives him a kiss. [click to continue…]

Part 2 of last month’s article on the 432 Leaside Bomber Squadron of World War II:

Sweater displayThe Leaside Gardens arena board has decided to move the photo of the painting and other memorabilia into a main viewing area.

The photo, a sweater and a letter about it, written in 1986 to coincide with the unveiling of the painting at Bessborough Public School, will hang in the arena’s main office windows that face the rink.

They  had been on display at the school for a while, then vanished.

In 2014 Mary Bailey, of Parkhurst Blvd., and Mary Lou Taylor, of Sutherland Dr., noticed they were gone. The veterans had previously applied for public display space, but were unsuccessful. [click to continue…]

Harold Wilmer Kirby

Harold Wilmer Kirby

The 432 Leaside Bomber Squadron was named after a Leaside resident died in a World War II crash, along with three other crew members, over Hamburg, Germany on July 30, 1943.

Harold Wilmer Kerby was only 26 at the time but already had made great achievements, including founding the squadron only two months previously.

It had been called the Fox squadron, but the name was changed when Leaside adopted it in November that year.

Kerby had been the youngest officer (23) in the RCAF to be promoted to squadron leader in December 1940, and was promoted a year later to wing commander.

He also served as Air Marshal W.A. Bishop’s special assistant while the World War I fighter ace visited RAF bases in England. [click to continue…]

You get a notice in the mail about a Committee of Adjustment hearing for 10 “minor variances” for the house next door. Oh, and by the way, the existing house will be demolished.

So what do you do?

Well, if you are like Allan Parkin you go door to door to each of your neighbours up and down the street, and explain what this means, your concerns, and why they should be concerned as well. You get them to write letters of opposition, copy to the councillor, and, yes, today you use social media (“Monster Home New Build Application”) to get community attention to your plight.

So Parkin enumerated a long list of concerns on the Leaside Community Facebook about his neighbour’s application for 33 Sharron and the impacts of construction on his property and the  adjoining property: It would [click to continue…]

Low rise defines Leaside’s physical character

Crestview Apts.

Courtesy Grant Management Ltd.

With the physical character of Leaside under continuing attack from high rise condominium apartment developers these days, it is reassuring to drive along Moore Ave. to see the low rise Crestview Apartments, a complex comparable to the low rise Talbot apartments on Bayview Ave. Both are part of what defines the physical character of the Leaside community.

The Crestview Apartments were built on a 10-acre site then located across the road from the Town of Leaside at the east end of Bennington Heights in the Township of East York. Before Lawrence Construction purchased the property in 1949, it assured itself that sewers and water-mains had been installed to properly service the site. Hopefully the city of Toronto has assured itself that adequate services including schools are in place before it has even considered any of the recent condo proposals. [click to continue…]

2 hours for 25 years makes a fixture

Photo by Lindsay Blakely

Photo by Lindsay Blakely

He doesn’t live in Leaside.

He spends just over two hours a day here.

Yet Jose Ginete Jr. is a neighbourhood fixture.

That’s because for the last 25 years, he has worked as a school crossing guard.

And every bit of that time at the same corner – Eglinton Ave. and Rumsey Rd.

“When you see kids have crossed the street safely, that’s your happiness,” he says. [click to continue…]

In Brief May 2016

Leaside United gets new minister

A special congregational meeting at Leaside United Church voted unanimously in March to appoint Rev. Emily Gordon its new minister. Gordon was ordained in June 2015 after serving a one-year internship at Kincardine United Church in southwest Ontario. Her previous ministerial experience includes serving seven months as a supply minister at Trinity-St. Paul’s in Toronto. She has a master’s degree in divinity from Emmanuel College and another in English from Simon Fraser University. Her first service with Leaside United was to be on May 1.

Stickney Ave. to become official

Stickney Ave. will soon be officially part of Leaside. The old Markham Ave., which runs between Airdrie Rd. and Laird Dr., will be renamed Sunday, May 15, at a noon ceremony to honour the late David Stickney, a lifelong Leaside resident, who died in May last year. The Stickney Memorial Committee, formed last year shortly after the death of the former Leaside High teacher and coach, filed the renaming application with the city last July. The committee has raised more than $15,000 to date, most of which will go to The Leaside Scholarship Fund.

Avril & Ken Cude

Avril & Ken Cude

Avril Cude (Oglesby) left Leaside in 1966 at age 20 when she and her new husband Ken moved to Etobicoke to be closer to his high school teaching job.

Their address over the years has changed but their weekly drive “home” to Leaside to attend Sunday services at St. Augustine’s has not.

Avril Cude’s been a part of St. Augustine’s since its beginning. She and her husband have been tempted to move back to Leaside several times, but are happy in the west end.

Her children with their families still attend the church and although they too do not live in Leaside and never have, Cude’s grandchildren are her family’s fifth generation to attend St Augustine’s and call it home. [click to continue…]

Leaside, by Jane PitfieldIn 1943, the Rev. Canon P. M. Lamb of St. Cuthbert’s Church anticipated the post-war expansion of the Sunnybrook area. Consequently, he began to lay plans for the work of church extension in the northern portion of his parish.

“This was a selfless venture of faith because he knew only too well that it would result in a substantial loss of membership for his parish.” (From an 1996 memoir written by parishioners.)

Within a year he had persuaded the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto to purchase a site two blocks north of Eglinton Avenue on a quiet country lane known as Bayview Avenue on the outskirts of the Town of Leaside. On June 6, 1944 the site was purchased for $3,600.00. [click to continue…]

There is a lack of progress on Eglinton

Eglinton Connects - artist renderingLast month my column was partly devoted to an update on Eglinton Connects, the plan for intensified land use for the Eglinton corridor.

This month we look at progress (or rather the lack of progress), on the surface transportation realignment of the avenue.

Eglinton Connects is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight congestion and make Eglinton a safe, complete street for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists of all ages and abilities.

The plans are also intended to make Eglinton a green and beautiful street. [click to continue…]

Leaside-Matters-Talk-Exhibit-WalkLeaside Matters, which wants to build on the goodwill created by the 2013 celebrations of Leaside’s 100th birthday, beings a series of three events on May 3 to highlight our history, character and architecture.

The first, May 3, is LEA Talk at Amsterdam Brewery, on Esandar Dr., an examination of Leaside’s architecture and streetscapes, in conjunction with the Toronto Society of Architects. Called Leaside Architecture: The Path of Modernizaton, it will focus on our evolution into the 21st century and the garden city principles involved. [click to continue…]

I redirected money to Linton Park

Many people have never heard of Section 42 of the Planning Act but its value is enormous; it helps the city acquire new parkland as well as improve our existing parks.

Section 42 is funded by the complicated formula of fees applied to various commercial and residential redevelopment projects.

Shortly after I was elected, Parks staff presented me with a list of approved projects in our ward. One of these projects was to repave the parking lot at Leaside High School. Well, actually only two thirds of it as the remainder is owned by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). [click to continue…]

Listening to customers to succeed on Bayview

Businesses on any commercial strip come and go. It’s a fact of life. If you’ve operated on Bayview for a decent amount of time, you’ve seen the turnover first hand.

A common refrain from tenants who aren’t lucky enough to own the real estate on which they operate is that rents on the street remain high while traffic has declined as more businesses opt for Laird and environs.

Like most challenges in life, it’s not what happens to you that matters but rather how you react to this adversity.

Naeem Memon, who operates Refuel Juicery on Bayview, in my opinion is a classic example of how good business people figure out a way to make things work despite serious challenges to their business models. Adapt or die. [click to continue…]

New possibilities for life in our library

Friday mornings at the Leaside Library: Usually about 10 women around the tables in the Community Room – knitting, crocheting, rug hooking, whatever, something crafty and portable they’ve brought with them. No men in this group, although we know there are some who do this sort of thing and they would be welcome to join us.

Ida, Maureen, Raila, Angela, Carolyn… all coming because being with this group is an important part of the week. The words may be different, but the sentiment is similar – “a great mix of people”, “supportive”, “great way to bounce ideas around and see what others are doing”, “good for my brain”, “everyone welcome”. [click to continue…]