The LPOA has a long history of working with the businesses and industries in the Leaside Business Park. My LPOA co-president Geoff Kettel and I have attended some recent meetings of their association, and the LPOA board is interested in the thoughts of our industrial neighbours. Our interests are mutual. Our futures are connected.
When Leaside was created about a century ago, it was as a planned community.
The founders designed an industrial section east of Laird, which supplied a strong tax base for residential, recreational and commercial Leaside, and ample housing for the industries’ workers The Town of Leaside flourished, supported by the Leaside Industrial Area (LIA).
In the 1960s, the Borough of East York, our neighbour to the south, was in financial trouble. Leaside’s substantial industrial tax base was seen as a potential lifeline to East York, and after much debate (and argument) a referendum merged the two into a single entity.
Recalling this history reminds us of the important role that the Leaside Industrial Area has played in the formation and sustainability of our community.
The last 50 years have brought changes to both residential and industrial Leaside. Not all of these changes have been good.
As Metro Toronto expanded, we found ourselves located in the centre of the city. Land prices increased, putting pressures on businesses in the LIA, some of which sold their properties and moved to the suburbs, where land was cheaper. Other kinds of development, primarily retail in nature, began to fill the spots vacated by industry. Applications for housing developments created other uncertainties.
Commuter traffic increased, flowing through both the LIA and residential Leaside. By the 1970s and early 1980s, it became clear that the Leaside Industrial Area was changing significantly. The impact has been described as ‘death by a hundred cuts’, except that it’s more like a thousand cuts, especially in the last few years.
Over the years, both the Leaside Property Owners’ Assocation and the LIA boards have joined forces on several task forces, organized and supported by the Borough of East York.
In the 1990s the LPOA produced a report, Revitalizing the Leaside Industrial Area, paid for by East York and donations from the LIA businesses. There are probably still copies of this report in the Leaside and East York libraries. In addition, then MP John Godfrey worked with LIA companies in a effort to create a New Media Village in the area.
But pressures on the LIA, now called the Leaside Business Park (LBP), have continued to increase.
We are all aware of the spread of shopping centres along the east side of Laird, and on Eglinton between Laird and east of Brentcliffe. Each new development puts new pressures on industry. More – and more aggressive – ‘civilian’ traffic, looking for shortcuts, gets in the way of efficient loading and unloading.
Nearby residents complain about noise from industrial sites, or the view from their high-rise condominiums. Rising land values make it all too tempting for industrial property owners to sell up and move away, taking their jobs with them.
Looking at current rezoning and development applications dramatically illustrates their threat to the well-being of the LBP, as well as to Leaside’s streets, homes and amenities.
To name just a few, there is the proposed giant 939 Eglinton East (at Brentcliffe) condominium and mixed use high-rise complex; the application for a massive and inappropriate 146-150 Laird condominium and care facility complex; and, not to forget, a potential Costco around the corner from Laird on Overlea Blvd., with huge traffic implications for both residential Leaside and the Business Park.
And if residential development is allowed on the west side of Laird, safety regulations will negatively impact existing companies’ operations, such as industrial fuel storage, on the east side of the street, and make it impossible for them to expand.
The LPOA board of directors meets (September through June) on the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Trace Manes building. During the months of July and August we meet at the call of the chair, as needed, remaining involved in Leaside’s issues . Please check our website for updates and details during the summer months. And please contact us with your comments, questions and concerns.