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Why it’s hard to protect Leaside

Is our city working?  More to the point, is it working in the public interest?  Using Leaside as the test area, it’s a fair question to ask.

Toronto’s Official Plan is targeted by developers who read mid-rise and propose high-rise.  Arterial streets like Bayview, Eglinton and Laird attract the most attention, with applications for giant condominiums, retirement homes and big box stores. Rules are treated like guidelines. The Official Plan has become a mere starting point.

On Leaside’s inner residential streets, speculators buy homes and either demolish or alter them, all too often building higher or wider than regulations permit. The Committee of Adjustment has too many applications to review in too short a time; the result is that traditional Leaside streetscapes are changing, and not for the better. It takes forever to get a city inspector to note infractions, or to get a cease work order to stop illegal construction.

Developers’ consultants provide traffic analyses which never seem to indicate what their real traffic impact will be. By the time their forecasts have been proven wrong, the cause of the damage (i.e. the development) is already in business. The most recent example: the proposal for a Costco store on Overlea Blvd. isn’t accompanied by any analysis of traffic impact on residential Leaside.

Meanwhile, the LPOA’s consultant estimates that that it will create a through-traffic increase on Leaside’s streets of between 4 percent and 44.5 percent, depending on the intersection.

As you read this, you may ask, what’s the point of trying to protect Leaside?  And what are our chances of success?

The point is that Leaside is worth protecting. We are often successful. But there are still too many occasions when, instead of achieving the best solution, we have to settle for the least bad compromise.

Public expressions of support are key to our success. While the LPOA continues to depute, write letters, organize public gatherings, and lobby, we can’t do it alone. We need you to support us, for example by your attendance at meetings as issues arise. We have to impress on city council that Toronto actually has an Official Plan, and that Leasiders expect the city to enforce it.

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If you’ve been reading Councillor Burnside’s Leaside Life’s columns about the involvement of Metrolinx in the development of the now-former McDonald’s site, you will know that Metrolinx has acquired more property than it requires for the Bayview/Eglinton LRT station (1783-85 and 1787 Bayview are the properties).

We have learned that in fact Metrolinx is involved in a deal which would profit them for supporting increased density on that corner. We have written to Premier Kathleen Wynne, our MPP, to let her know that Leasiders are concerned and serious about preventing this corner becoming a high-rise canyon.

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On Oct. 3, the LPOA presented the new Bayview Leaside BIA with a cheque for $25,000, part of the financial settlement we reached over a year ago with the SmartCentre North.  (The rest of the settlement is earmarked for a traffic plan and for heritage protection). The BIA is finally officially registered with the city. We wish them well and encourage you to support local merchants and our renowned Bayview shopping district.

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Please mark Wednesday, Nov. 25 on your calendars. LPOA will hold its 2016 Annual General Meeting in the William Lea Room, Leaside Gardens. Among the invited speakers will be Rob Oliphant, the winning federal candidate for Don Valley West. More details will be made public closer to the date.

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The LPOA holds board meetings on the first Wednesday of each month in the Trace Manes building at 7:30 p.m. You are welcome to attend, whether as a deputant or just to observe. Our next meeting is on Wednesday, Nov. 4.