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Strength in numbers The LPOA wants needs YOU!

I’d like to share with you why the Leaside Property Owners’ Association encourages you to become members of our ratepayers’ group. No, it’s not just a question of finances, important though finances are. And no, we don’t only advocate for those of you who are full dues-paying members – we represent all residents of Leaside, whether paid up or not.

A brief history:

When the LPOA formed back in the 1950s, you could become a Life Member with a one-time $5 fee, registered by your name and street address. This made our bookkeeping very simple and membership easy to confirm. Once the $5 fee was paid, our accountant had very little updating to do. When we needed more funds, we appealed for voluntary donations. Or we held cookie sales, or neighbourhood garage sales. A lot of work for not a vast return, but Leasiders responded time and again with their support.

There were also political advantages to the Life Membership system. If were we challenged by politicians about how many residents we represented, we could honestly reply that virtually every household was an LPOA Life Member.

About 20 years ago, around the time the amalgamated city replaced our former local governments, the LPOA became incorporated. Incorporation was a requirement for ratepayer groups to depute at or appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. It was also necessary to hire lawyers and professional planners and other consultants to give expert evidence there. Local opinion or expertise would not be sufficient.

At that point it became evident that we needed a stronger financial base if we were going to be able to effectively take on Leaside’s issues. The LPOA board decided to institute annual dues.

Today, although we still have numerous Life Members, we are trying to build that stronger base by appealing to you to join with a $25 yearly fee.

Let me give you an idea of the kind of costs the LPOA can incur, if we need to appear at the OMB. The recent Sunnybrook Plaza case (RioCan/660 Eglinton Ave. East) provides a good example.

There were three pre-hearings, with preparatory legal and planning work, and three days of OMB-led mediation. We also needed to call in a hydrogeologist to study any potential water-related damage to the site and an arborist to consult on protecting the trees along the west side of Bessborough Dr. directly overlooking the site. The mediation process allowed us to reach a settlement, which led to a less massive design featuring lower buildings, more open space, and more protection for the trees and natural environment.

Total cost? $42,697.28.

This figure does not include the $5,000 for the hydrogeologist or the just over $2,000 for the arborist, which RioCan also agreed to cover.

Fortunately, neighbours and other Leasiders were able to raise over $10,000 through donations, and RioCan is reimbursing the LPOA $25,000 (+ 13% HST) toward our professional fees.

If we had not been able to reach a mediated settlement – if we had had to proceed to a full OMB hearing – our additional costs would likely have been well over $125,000.

These costs are not unusual. You can see why going to the OMB is not a matter the LPOA board takes lightly, and why, whenever possible, we prefer to work with our councillor and City planning staff, to assess our chances of success, at least to mitigate development proposals. Going to the OMB is – and should be – the last resort.

Given the quantity of development applications the Leaside area is experiencing, the LPOA will appeal to you from time to time for your donations to pay for specific issues. But we will continue to ask you to join as an annual member, to ensure our financial strength and political impact. There’s strength in numbers.

Traffic!

If you live in North Leaside, be sure you mark WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1st in your calendar. If you live in South Leaside, the date to save is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8th. On those evenings, at 7:30 p.m., the LPOA Traffic Committee has scheduled meetings in the William Lea Room (Leaside Gardens).

As I said in last month’s Leaside Life LPOA column, we need to develop a real plan and choose options to identify specify locations and measures to improve safety measures and reduce through traffic – measures you will be comfortable with on your street or in your part of Leaside. Your input is key!

Note: Our next monthly board of directors meeting is Thursday, March 2nd, moved to that night from our usual first Wednesday of the month to accommodate the North Leaside traffic meeting on the 1st. Our board meetings are always open to the public, at 7:30 p.m. in the Tennis Lounge at Trace Manes.