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Why industrial park rules were changed

LORNA KRAWCHUK was an East York councillor who voted in favour of the changes to the rules for the Leaside Business Park that previously prohibited residential and retail development east of Brentcliffe.

In what turned out to be the last term of East York Council, 1994-1997, there were major exoduses from the Leaside industrial area, including Schlumberger at Laird and Eglinton and the former Canada Wire and Cable, now Alcatel, from their huge site at Laird and Wicksteed.

More in the interior of the area, several other long-standing businesses had left, leaving huge swaths of industrial land empty.

Earlier attempts with co-operation between MP John Godfrey at the federal level, and MPP John Parker at the provincial level, to try to attract New Media businesses to a hub in Leaside, never came to pass, despite a lot of work and encouragement at all political levels.

Earlier in the 1990s there was a huge push for intensive residential development on the land east of Brentcliffe at Eglinton.  In the end, a much-reduced, and phased-in residential development was allowed, but with strict boundaries to try to protect the valuable industrial properties remaining.

On both the Schlumberger and Alcatel sites, East York was concerned that residential development might be the choice of some new owner.  We felt that commercial use was preferable to leaving the land vacant, or having it zoned residential, in order to protect our tax base.

We were very aware of the concerns of the Bayview merchants about retail development, and felt that by promoting larger stores, rather than small ones, Bayview and the new Laird stores would not be directly competing.

And yes, there were people at the required public meetings when these developments were approved, who voiced concerns about traffic infiltration, but I really didn’t feel that when I voted in favour of both of those developments, that I was going against my community’s wishes.