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Letters – April 2014

Oh Leaside, is every proposed change bad?

Oh Leaside, is every proposed change something that will be objected to? Intensifying along transportation corridors is sensible planning. And two-storey buildings are much better than 27-storey buildings – just visit most major European cities.

I think it would be better if we spent more of our energies trying to influence development, to make it friendlier to live with, to encourage some architectural diversity in lieu of the relentless gray/green towers that dominate the landscape in Toronto, to ensure low-level commercial units so we don’t have to drive to the big boxes.

Toronto is growing and this growth needs to be managed. If everything is opposed, we just end up marginalized by the OMB.

Michael Beswick,
Millwood Rd.

My mother was a resident in an apartment at 63 Mallory Cres. at the time mentioned in this article (Library basement had other memories for me, March 2014, Karen Fraser) and was an active participant in the opposition to the “development” proposal. 

However, I believe the year would have been 1979 as in 1989 her health would have restricted her actions.

More importantly, the “elderly resident Ken Crothers,” whose original legal documents certified Mallory Green as an officially designated park, was in fact my former neighbour, Ken Carruthers.

I had known Ken since moving onto Mallory Crescent in 1968 and when I purchased the house next to his in 1993 we often spoke about past and present issues.

Ken was a very good neighbour and unfortunately is no longer with us, so I felt compelled to see his name recorded accurately.

Parker Liddle,
Mallory Cres.

Karen Fraser replies: I appreciate the time you took to question the dates and spelling in my column.

You are correct that the first developer attack on Mallory Cres. was in 1979. I did not live on the street at the time.

The second attack outlined in the column was in the ‘80s.

I did not spell Mr. Carruthers name properly. I spelled it like the Crothers company that had a billboard on Millwood for decades.

Thank you for paying attention.

___

I’m writing in response to Will Ashworth’s second Leaside Life article (March 2014) in defence specifically of the proposed Diamond development at 939 Eglinton and, more generally, of residential intensification in the community of Leaside.

He promotes population density as the obvious test for where large residential developments should be placed, schooling the reader that Leaside just isn’t doing its fair share.

Using his metrics, the Diamond complex would be better placed in the middle of the Bridal Path where population density is extremely low. I don’t expect that will happen.

His population test ignores the concepts of actual urban planning, vision for a community and the vibrancy brought to a large, diverse city through different styles of neighbourhood design and personality.

To ignore how diversity of design and community makes our city a more interesting and happy place to live in and explore is more than unfortunate.

It is exciting that the Beach is different from Riverdale which is unique from Thorncliffe which is individual from The Guild.

It’s fantastic that Leaside is known as an engaged, thoughtful, walkable neighbourhood that still feels like a small town within a big city. Its lesser than average density is one of its most attractive features.

There is no question that the Eglinton LRT will mean Eglinton properties will become even more attractive to ambitious developers. But this does not mean we are destined to see a line of 30-storey towers staring down into the backyards of Leaside.

Ashworth’s premise that a thriving Toronto is contingent on the Leaside population growing at a faster rate than it’s used to misses the family character of our community and the true benefit of the Eglinton LRT. Communities further from the core will become more livable and they too will thrive.

The future of our community is not inevitable. We can help to determine it without shame or apology by choosing to be engaged.

For too long planning decisions in our community have been driven by developers and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) using similar arguments to Mr. Ashworth’s. Fact is, the developers don’t live here and the OMB does not have a stake in our community.

The time has come to Think Outside the Big Box and to imagine a community that is more than a bedroom or a shopping destination.

We will be a few years in this struggle to redefine Eglinton Ave. as the LRT is completed. Let’s ensure our insights are considered and our voices heard.

David Sparrow
Laird Dr.

After reading the Bayview vs. Laird debate in the March edition I had to comment.

I find it interesting that there is so much talk of the issues for retailers on Bayview because of the development on Laird.

Bayview retailers have had an idealistic situation for decades where they were the only walking destination for shopping in the Leaside area. Now it seems most of the retailers aren’t changing with the times.

Many things have not changed since the stores on Bayview opened their doors.

• Parking has always been an issue on Bayview, most retailers who had done their homework would have know this when they moved in and considered how this might affect their business

• The strip is prime real estate that has high rent and is in older buildings that owners are hard pressed to maintain at lower rent rates. It is also one of the highest property tax areas in the city.

• Bayview is a strip of repeats mostly, one nail salon after another, one accessory, baggage, knick/ knack, coffee, ice cream/frozen yogurt store, clothing store after another. Most offer very similar things, not offering much variety or great pricing compared to large retail competition.

If retailers think their rents on Bayview are high, compare that cost per square foot to the cost in the SmartCentre plaza or other large retail plazas and they will find their rent to be on the low end!

Competition happens all the time and the development of Laird is not a surprise, but something the current retailers on Bayview had lots of time to plan for to offer incentives for their customers and work with other retailers to have events on Bayview to draw people there – sidewalk sales (for all stores, tastings for eateries, etc.), BBQs, celebrations…. The ideas could be endless if they worked together.

At the end of the day, in the world of retail, many of the stores on Bayview have become “long in the tooth,” many of them are too similar to other stores down the street or trying to compete with larger retailers that simply have better deals.

The issue with Bayview isn’t Bayview, it is that many of the offers on Bayview just have no draw, there is nothing fresh about them and nothing that is truly unique and offers consumers great product at a great price. Even if Laird weren’t being developed Bayview would have started to dwindle, but people would have simply stuck with it because it was close.

In the world of business you have to be ready to compete and the fresh face of things going on on Laird will draw people there because it is new.

It is up to the retailers on Bayview to create their own destiny in this new competitive landscape, and with the increased retail development proposed not only for Laird, but Eglinton between Laird and Bayview, they better be on their toes.

The LRT will be here eventually and that will make the stretch of Eglinton a more desirable destination as well.  In the coming years on Bayview the strong retailers that people truly want to shop at will survive and others will not. In the end it might add some fresh, unique and new concepts to the somewhat tired strip in the neighbourhood.

Jennifer Ego,
Divadale Dr.

Thanks for another good edition of the paper this month. There were lots of good/valuable articles representing some very important issues for our community.

I don’t know the contact info for the rink guys at Trace Manes, but I would love to pass along a thank you to them for their efforts to support the community. My father used to take on that thankless job 40 years ago at Sandy Bruce Park so my brother and other boys in the area could have hours and hours of fun.

I hope when I have kids and they grow up that there will still be a Trace Manes rink in operation.

Bayview vs. Laird is a very tough debate, as I want to side with Geoff 100 percent, but Will does bring up a couple of fair points. My wife and I really enjoy walking up and down the Bayview strip to visit stores and to do some small chores, but at the same time we are more frequent visitors and purchasers from the Laird developments.

I want the Bayview strip to thrive and continue to offer a perfect taste of the ‘small-town community feel,’ which is what makes Leaside special, but as per Will’s challenge, it will need to get better and stronger in terms of how to combat the realities of big box and business parks.

I believe there can be a balance where both exist but we are not there today and need to build a plan with the city and community to do so.

Lastly, I also want to thank the people and committees that are supporting our community objectives and working to limit/control the impact of Walmarts, post office developments and the condominium projects.

Thanks for continuing to make our community a better place.

Dave Martin,
Heather Rd.

Thanks to all of you at Leaside Life for keeping local news in the forefront. I have already received a few messages back from the article (Whither Trace Manes rink?) and all were positive.

I am hopeful going forward that this type of volunteering for local benefits will continue to provide recreation and a feeling of community for many years to come.

Alan Keskikyla,
Eglinton Ave. East