Many Leasiders believe that their homes are located “a safe distance away” from any of the currently proposed local development projects, so they will not be affected.
They are wrong.
They think that because their homes aren’t in the immediate vicinity of, say, the proposed Smart-Centre North mega-mall at Laird and Wicksteed, or of the former Leaside post office at Laird/Millwood and Malcolm (currently proposed to be replaced with a huge condominium), these developments don’t pose any danger to their own quality of life, the safety of their streets, or the values of their homes.
The truth is, we are all affected, both as individuals and as a community.
All of us will see increased traffic on our streets if these developments take place, and a less safe environment as a result. All of us will notice the decline of the Leaside “brand” as new, high-density forms replace the scale of our neighbourhood.
All of us will find that unwelcome building types and activities, if approved by the city, can be used as precedents for permitting similar unwelcome developments elsewhere in Leaside.
This erosion of our community is not inevitable. But it is much more likely to happen if Leasiders are either uninformed or uninvolved.
Sometimes working groups have been initiated by our city councilor; these groups composed primarily of those local neighbours living closest to the development in question (for instance a working group of people most immediately affected by a massive proposed eight-storey condominium on the site of the former Leaside Post Office).
These working groups, which also include representatives of the developer, are important, and raise valuable perspectives. But valuable though they are, they are not a substitute for full and open public consultation.
The Laird/Millwood/Malcolm corner is the gateway to Leaside, and deserves maximum exposure to comments and suggestions from all Leasiders, to ensure transparency and neighbourhood-acceptable solutions.
This is why it’s important to be members of your local ratepayer group, the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, and to contribute to LPOA and to Leaside Unite, a subcommittee of the LPOA, who are coordinating the fight against the other big local issue, the SmartCentre North shopping centre. Both have websites with news updates, organize public meetings, and raise funds to hire professional consultants. Both represent the neighbourhood as a whole.
As noted in my earlier columns, LPOA and LU met with city staff in the summer regarding the Smart-Centre North application. Recently we have started to receive copies of new reports from SmartCentre’s consultants, as well as comments from city staff. At this point it looks as if it will not be before sometime early in 2013 that the application reaches North York Community Council for a vote. As we go through the reports we will keep you informed, and will want to represent your comments and suggestions.
Contact LPOA by attending our monthly meetings (7:30 p.m. first Wednesday of each month at Trace Manes) or write to us: LPOA, Sunnybrook Postal Outlet, 660 Eglinton East, PO Box 50055, Toronto M4G 4G1. You can also e-mail Leaside Life with your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.