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Letters – November 2015

Metrolinx is getting a bad rap

Recent issues of Leaside Life have included columns that sound an alarm bell over word that Metrolinx is acquiring land at the south-east corner of Bayview and Eglinton in connection with the proposed LRT station to be built there.

The comments drip with speculation as to a hidden agenda driven by Metrolinx in its – heretofore well concealed – alter ego as rapacious developer. They go so far as to suggest that Metrolinx and the OMB, both being provincial “agencies”, may eventually enter into cahoots to foist on the community a development of up to 20 storeys in violation of the city’s policies.

The speculation stems largely from the further news that Metrolinx will benefit financially from development activity at the enlarged site. Metrolinx has been called “duplicitous” under the circumstances. There is another way to understand the situation.

It is no secret that Metrolinx needs the McDonald’s site for its new LRT station. It can be expected that a negotiated purchase transaction would have had to give the vendor terms similar to what would have been provided in an expropriation. In this case, it means compensation for the parking spots that the vendor will give up at the McDonald’s site. Take into account all the variables, and the need to involve extra land in the total transaction becomes evident.

With that, things start to get complicated. The former owner of the McDonalds site intends to build on top of the new LRT station and on other nearby lands. Included in its agreement with Metrolinx is the requirement of an accounting to Metrolinx for a share of the return thus generated.

Bottom line: It is city policy to promote suitable intensification in the vicinity of transit lines. The advent of the Crosstown LRT will naturally increase the attractiveness of the Bayview/Eglinton corner as a potential development site, and thus its value.

It only makes sense from the public perspective that part of this increased value accrue to Metrolinx – whose investment in the Crosstown is creating the increased value – and not just to a private developer.

Capturing that value is in no way inconsistent with the overriding priority of Metrolinx to build and operate a transit system, while the developer takes the lead in advancing its construction project on the site of the new LRT station and whatever other lands it is able to assemble.

There is no development application currently on record. If and when there is one, all the usual city planning rules and procedures would apply, including overall size and height restrictions and heritage considerations, regardless of any status Metrolinx might have in the matter. The process would include consultation with the local community.

As for the OMB, it is not a provincial “agency”. It is a tribunal. A court. It does not throw a wink at parties that actually happen to be government agencies. Metrolinx, if it were to find itself somehow interested in a proceeding at the OMB, would stand on the same footing as any anyone who appears there, provincial agency or not.

John Parker,
Cameron Cres.

During the first 10 days of October, just by way of taking breaks from working in my home-office, I wound up delittering Donegall’s three blocks, the Donegall laneway’s two blocks, the three short blocks between Donegall and Bayview (Millwood, Fleming and Parkhurst), Fleming, and the whole non-Leaside High School (LHS) half of Talbot Park.

This was a heck of a lot more work than a dozen people sweeping up the sidewalks of Bayview on one particular morning. It’s in the shopkeepers’ self-interest to do this regularly, not just once in a blue moon. Moreover, the city guys with their little golf carts with the funnel that sucks up litter can be seen on Bayview from time to time. I’ve never seen one of these on any residential street of Leaside, though I did spot one once in the Donegall laneway, doing more harm than good by inadvertently scattering gravel onto the pavement.

If any Leasiders walking in the above areas noticed that they looked spiffier than usual, for a while at least, I would hate them to conclude that the city was responsible. In your dreams.

I’d like them to know that a volunteer was responsible, in this case a member of the Leaside Litterati (aka Cheryl’s Brigade).

I’ve also completely delittered Talbot Park behind the backstop five times since the spring, a formidable undertaking given that it’s chronically trashed by LHS students and baseball fans.

I believe from speaking to Sandra Creighton at the park that she does some delittering regularly in that area as well.

I’d like to disabuse habitual litterers of the notion that they’re merely providing lucrative work for city parks employees.

No such luck. It is US, saddled with the unenviable job because the city appears to not be up to it.

Aside from what gets swept by rain down sewer gratings, every thoughtlessly or maliciously discarded bit of detritus gets picked up eventually by unpaid volunteers unwilling to experience Leaside as one enormous ashtray filled ankle-deep not just with smokers’ debris, but with wrappers, filled doggy-doo bags, plastic bottles, shattered beer and liquor bottles, plastic newspaper binding loops, popsicle sticks, coffee and soft drink paper cups, receipts, bus transfers, plastic bags, wads of gum, bottle caps… and other items too numerous or disgusting to inventory.

Jeff Walker,
Donegall Dr.

Re: Carol Burtin Fripp

While I enjoyed her article around federal issues for Leasiders, there is an error I wanted to point out. CPP is still payable at any age between 55 and 70 (with 65 being considered normal). It is OAS that is moving to a retirement age of 67.

June Smyth,
Randolph Rd.

After 10 years the local neighbourhood Second Cup in the Laird/Eglinton plaza closed for good on Oct. 6, to be supplanted by an LRT station. It was a sad day. It was hard to say good-bye. Ming and his staff were so friendly and welcoming and would call you by your name; music to one’s ears.

The place was sort of a hangout for the regular customers. Comfortable, cozy, with sofa chairs to sink into; there was a fireplace, a quiet refuge from the hurly-burly of the busy intersection. Lots of chitchat, social interaction with familiar folks and strangers:  a people place.

It’s hard to let go with what you had.

This is a small loss in the town of Leaside. But hey, Peter. Keep up with the times, progress is progress. But is it always for the better?

Peter McMurtry,
Airdrie Rd.