F E B R UA R Y 2021
Leaside Life leasidelife.com
Read Geoff Kettel’s 200th column
Last year’s event at Craigleith Ski Club.
by SUSAN SCANDIFFIO This year, as all charities are experiencing, in-person fundraisers are being cancelled or re-emerging as new events. Such is the case with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario’s (SCIO) popular Ski and Snowboard Day, which is moving online as a comedy evening on Thurs., Feb. 25th. The show will feature a star-studded cast of Canadian comedians along with inspirational messages from Paralympians. “Together,” note organizers, “we
will triumph on the virtual slopes against barriers to accessibility!” An organization like SCIO counts on donors to be able to continue their work on behalf of those with spinal cord injuries. The group runs several fundraisers throughout the year, including the extremely popular, and well-attended, Ski and Snowboard Day, which has been running for 20 years. The event has seen skiers of all abilities, including those in sit skis, tackling the hills. One sit skier with a
spinal cord injury commented at last year’s event that “it’s important in so many ways for people like myself physically, mentally to get out, meet new people and experience something that they maybe thought they would never ever try and push their boundary.” Every day, at least one person in Ontario sustains a new spinal cord injury. The pain is both physical and mental, with patients often feeling overwhelmingly helpless with little hope for their future. SCIO Page 7
Key Spinal Cord Injury fundraising event
Leaside Life • February 2021
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Reasons to celebrate
Do you know what year this is? The Year of the Vaccine, you’re guessing? Well, we can only hope. But what we know for sure is that this is the Year of the Ox, and more specifically the Year of the White Metal Ox. According to thechinesezodiac. org, “This year is going to be lucky and also perfect to focus on relationships, whether we are talking about friendships or love. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Ox is very hardworking and methodical. ... The Yin energy, specific to the Chinese zodiac sign of Ox, will be quite poignant. This is going to be a year when we will fully feel the weight of our responsibilities, a year when it is necessary to double our efforts to accomplish anything at all. ... 2021 is a year when all the problems get solved with discipline. A lot of discipline!” Several Leaside families will be celebrating the Year of the Ox. One
Jane Auster Editor Leaside Life
of those is our columnist, Suzanne Park, along with her husband, Warren, and daughter Zhen (also a Leaside Life contributor), who was born in China. “We indulge in Chinese cuisine and Zhen bakes and decorates the official Zodiac cake, although this year we’ll have to eat the whole ‘Year of the Ox’ cake ourselves,” she writes. Chinese New Year is normally a very big celebration, with vibrant decorations, special foods, and of course, lots of friends stopping by. While Covid has put paid to these in-person gatherings for the time being, the joy is still there, as well as anticipation that better times truly are on the way. So, here’s to the Year of the Ox! May our fortunes improve as the year progresses. n
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by KEN MALLETT
What can you do about your widget? After years, months, weeks of effort, you’ve finally finished your widget. It does twice as much as any other widgets available, costs half as much, and the quality is much better. All your neighbours will surely want one! Now what? In the age of the internet, most people would probably say create a website and tell everybody about your brilliant invention. But the customers for your widget aren’t in Timbuktu; they’re your neighbours in Leaside and the GTA. How do you tell them the good news? Richard Bergeron knows. He owns and operates Accurate Distributing, a flyer and distribution company that has been in business in Leaside for more than 75 years. And in the age of the internet, they are busy.
L-r: Andrew Talpa, Richard Bergeron and Jarek Tarkowski.
What R i c h a r d ’s company does is produce and deliver leaflets, magazines, newsletters, postcards and flyers to your doorstep. Actual, physical ink-onpaper words and images that are in your mailbox or on your doorstep. The idea is popular with widget-makers of all kinds. “The reason is printing-on-demand is really fast,” Bergeron says. “Everybody needs it yesterday. When they see they can get it with onestop-shop convenience, you see why 80% of our business is repeat!” Founded in 1930, Accurate Distributing established a reputation for reliability that has lasted three quarters of ACCURATE Page 11
Leaside Life • February 2021
Leaside institution Accurate Distributing weathers the pandemic
If she builds it, they will come Growing up in a low-income household, Peggy Tilbenny knew the value of a dollar. The family lived a minimal lifestyle out of necessity and stretched their budget never to waste any of their resources. Working her way through university in the early 90s, Tilbenny had a clear vision of her future. With a successful modelling and acting career, she managed to balance work with her schooling, and left school ready to face the world with a healthy bank balance. So healthy, in fact, that Tilbenny was ready to buy her first house. In cash. The problem? Initially, real estate agents turned her away, she says, because she was single and Black. Peggy didn’t suffer fools gladly, and, disregarding the ignorance of these agents, found a house. Her first house. And there would be more to come. Finding her passion in designing, building, renovating, and decorating, Tilbenny put her touch on this first house and moved on to another. And another. And so on and so on.
Susan Scandiffio Columnist
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Leaside Life • February 2021
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When she first met Daunte Rezaie in 2002, she was thinking of him in relation to construction on her home. But, as the two worked together on the planning, she soon realized that their values with respect to minimal living and environmentally friendly building were aligned. Rezaie’s company, North Castle, is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) member. It was, and continues to be, a company focused on building and renovating spaces with designs incorporating energy efficiency and environmental sustainability alongside beauty and functionality. For Tilbenny, this commitment to environmentally friendly building quickly won her over not only as a client, but eventually as a part of the North Castle team. Now working as North Castle’s lead networker, Peggy has helped grow the company’s clientele. It’s a career, she says, which is fulfilling as she is such an ardent believer in its values. Her two daughters could back up her claim that she truly walks the walk when it comes to her green lifestyle. “They used to complain that I wouldn’t use the air conditioning in the car,” she laughs, but her daughters know that open windows are a constant in their mom’s life. “Clean air, fewer indoor toxins!” They would never dream of doing laundry during peak hours, and reuse and recycle like nobody’s business. During the pandemic, Tilbenny has worked with many of her Leaside neighbours and has noticed a distinct difference in how homeowners view life in general, and the spaces they inhabit. People have been going back to the basics (hello, rise in the numbers baking their own bread). They’re also spending an unprecedented amount of time in their homes and realizing the importance of clean indoor air and efficient systems which cut down on water and hydro use.
TILBENNY continued North Castle regularly uses salvaged wood, recycled building materials, solar solutions, high efficiency windows and doors, water recycling units, and heat recovery systems for all plumbing. They are also the first company that has put in place a policy that for every tree that they remove for any given construction site, they plant 10. Hard to believe perhaps, but homes and buildings account for 13 per cent of Canada’s emissions. Peggy Tilbenny is a Leasider making great strides to reduce that statistic one renovation, or new build, at a time. n
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Leaside Life • February 2021
Leaside Life • February 2021
Trust me, I have a system for that! Maybe it’s because I’m an engineer by academic training. Or perhaps I’m just anally retentive. Some have suggested I’m obsessive. I like to think I’m, at least, gifted, and at most, more highly evolved than the average member of the human tribe, though there is mounting evidence that this view is held by a minority of one. Whatever the explanation, I have developed and honed systems for most of the big and small tasks life hands me on a daily basis. No haphazard approach for me that changes with each execution. No. I have a system and I stick to it. Some of you – okay perhaps many of you – are wondering, what’s he talking about? Allow me to offer an example or two to illustrate. I seem to be the one in our family who loads the car for excursions, whether for a cottage weekend or a family vacation. I don’t mean to make that sound like someone delegated the responsibility to me. No, I seized the honour, called dibs first, thrust my hand into the air faster than anyone else (not that I recall any other takers). Having
Terry Fallis Columnist
carefully examined the cargo area of our modest Mazda SUV (of course procured from Leaside’s Gyro Motors), I have developed a system for optimal loading. I know where, when, and how to position the larger pieces, the medium-sized articles, and my favourite (not), the small and loose items that are free-floating and utterly unencumbered by any containment device at all, be it bag, box, or elastic band. If you play this important cargo-architect role in your family, you’ll know this is just as much art as science. This is no slight against the rest of the family – they have other strengths – but it’s immediately obvious when someone who lacks my packing gene has loaded the car, usually as soon as the tailgate is
opened, and items avalanche onto the driveway. The other giveaway is when I slide into the driver’s seat ready for a two-hour drive in rush hour traffic and notice in my rearview mirror that I have absolutely no visibility of the road behind me, so mountainous is our load. I have systems for dozens of tasks, including snow shoveling, folding laundry, stocking the fridge (a natural extension of my car-loading gifts), cutting the lawn, cooking, and many others. One of my favourites is loading the dishwasher. I suspect the fabric of many a family has been strained by divergent views on dish placement in the racks. (Or maybe it’s just in our house.) Dishwashers are carefully designed to accommodate dishes of various types and sizes. Thin items, like dinner plates, side plates, cutting boards, Tupperware lids, etc. are made to be lined up in the main area of the lower deck. Obvious, right? And then there’s that special section on the edge that takes thicker items like those flat pasta bowls, or shallow casserole dishes. I confess I get a little agitated when I’m reaching to load one of those pasta bowls only to find that a microscopically thin cookie sheet is taking up the only real estate in the dishwasher that can accommodate these thicker bowls. I try to stay calm as I move the cookie sheet to one of the 14 other spots that can take it among the other dinner plates so I can then slot my bowl into the only area where it will fit. People, there’s a system! So, what does my fixation on systems say about me? (I can’t repeat in a community publication what some – in my own family – have said.) Perhaps I’m just a creature of habit who takes comfort in routine. I don’t consider it obsessive-compulsive behaviour, though some do. I think it’s really about locking in tried-and-true approaches so that when established, they free up cerebral capacity for me to tackle more important matters, like world peace and bringing the Stanley Cup back to Toronto. You need a system? I’m your guy. n A two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Terry Fallis grew up in Leaside and is the award-winning writer of seven national bestsellers, including his most recent, Albatross, all published by McClelland & Stewart.
This is where the work of the caring, compassionate, and accomplished staff and volunteers from Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) comes in to change the focus from impossible to possible. From hospital, to rehab, and beyond, SCIO helps patients transition to a life filled with more accessibilities than disabilities. Headquartered in the Toronto Rehab Lyndhurst Centre at the north end of Sutherland Drive in Leaside, SCIO has been working with patients with spinal cord injuries for over 75 years. Before the end of World War II, most soldiers who sustained spinal cord injuries didn’t make it home, and of those who did, only 10 per cent lived longer than a year. In 1945, a group of determined veterans, all of whom had sustained such injuries, founded the Canadian Paraplegic Association, a national network dedicated to creating a world where those with spinal cord injuries could live with the same opportunities as those without disabilities. From this national group grew pro-
vincial organizations all focused on the same vision. SCIO provides ongoing support both in, and beyond, a person’s stay in rehab, including training and employment services, peer support programs, assistance in navigating government aid programs such as attendant services and access to mobility and assistive devices, assistance with modifications of homes or help finding new housing, tips on travelling, nutrition, vehicle modifications, mental health, and more. With 36,000 Ontarians with spinal cord injuries, SCIO’s work is indispensable. Dr. Stuart Howe, CEO of SCIO, comments, “our volunteers are second to none in their commitment to our clients and their families. Our supporters have an enormous impact on our work. And our staff go above and beyond, every day. We are always moving forward, working to high standards.” If you would like to “attend” this virtual event, see the silent auction items which will be available on the SCIO website from Mon., Feb. 22nd, or make a donation to the organization to help them continue their crucial services, visit sciontario.org. n
Leaside Life • February 2021
SCIO From cover
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MEET YOUR LEASIDE NEIGHBOUR
Leaside Life • February 2021
8 Lorna Krawchuk Publisher Leaside Life
Diana Bishop’s magical memories of Leaside Diana Bishop doesn’t stay in one place long. For 20 years as a TV news correspondent, she worked for the CBC, CTV, ABC, Global and NBC with placements from Quebec City to Beijing. But some of her strongest memories are of her time in Leaside in the 1950s as a small child. Diana is the granddaughter of World War I flying ace Billy Bishop. Her father, William Arthur, known as Arthur, also became a pilot during World War II, and then after the war became a journalist, advertising executive, entrepreneur and author. Her family moved from Edmonton to Toronto, and her parents rented 17 Parkhurst. After her mother showed her the route to Bessborough Public School, Diana was allowed to walk it
on her own. She still remembers the round windows in the kindergarten room. She also remembers stopping at a friend’s house on the way home from school one day, and being given two hamsters to take home. Arthur Bishop had taken a year off work to write the first of what turned out to be more than a dozen books – The Courage of the Early Morn – a bestseller biography of his father. Their house was a social hub for many – described by Diana as “a literary, creative and business crowd.” She remembers evenings where the women wore beautiful gowns, and would sometimes still be there, in their gowns, in the morning when she woke up. Former figure skating champion Andra Kelly, wife of Toronto Maple
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Leaf star Red Kelly, was Diana’s figure-skating teacher at Leaside Gardens. She loved the discipline of skating lessons, with the emphasis then on doing precise figures. The skating stuck, as she still skates, although now, she does wear a helmet and isn’t doing quite as many figure 8s.
Diana’s first bicycle came from the sporting goods store on Bayview. She was sent there with a note for the owner, who disappeared into the back room, and then came back with a bicycle. She walked it home, and then learned to ride going up and down Donegall. Now, Diana lives in Collingwood, which she says has much of the same feeling she remembers and cherishes about Leaside. She is the creator of The Success Story Program, where she helps leaders in business, politics, law, healthcare and not-forprofits “become confident and authentic communicators and specialists in their fields.” But her wanderlust hasn’t left. Until Covid put paid to this routine, she was travelling to Paris twice a year, for a month or so at a time. Her French experiences have morphed into her next project – Woman of a Certain Age in Paris. Lots of interesting reading at womanofacertainageinparis.com, and you will see that despite the pandemic, she is still making those Parisian connections. And yes, like her father before her, she keeps the memory of Billy Bishop alive, first with a documentary – A Hero To Me: the Story Of Billy Bishop – and then a memoir: Living Up To A Legend: My Adventures With Billy Bishop’s Ghost. n
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Kung Hei Fat Choy! Happy Lunar New Year! 10
Leaside Life • February 2021
by SUZANNE PARK It’s the Year of the Ox and Leaside families are celebrating...including mine. We – my daughter Zhen, born in China, my husband Warren, and I – enjoy celebrating with family and friends. We indulge in Chinese cuisine and Zhen bakes and decorates the official Zodiac cake, although this year we’ll have to eat the whole ‘Year of the Ox’ cake ourselves. The Ox is the second of 12 Zodiac animals. According to ancient legend, the animals raced to become the Jade Emperor’s guards. Apparently, the Rat arrived first by hitching a ride on the Ox’s head. The Ox in second place was followed by the competitive and fast Tiger and Rabbit, coming in third and fourth. Next came the Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, with the Pig as the last to reach the Emperor’s feet. The legend proclaimed that each year’s animal infuses its characteristics on
those born in that year. Many Leasiders celebrate Lunar New Year. Historically, this spring festival was an opportunity for agricultural workers to rest and celebrate with family before spring planting. According to Mark Whitten, who, with wife Anne and daughter Leah, is part of our group of Leaside-area families with children from China, “we’ve been celebrating together for
over a decade. Our celebration is a way to honour our children’s heritage. We alternate hosting an annual dinner complete with traditional Chinese attire and ‘lucky’ foods. Fish for prosperity, dumplings and spring rolls for wealth, noodles for long life, and lemon chicken symbolAll Stay new li info sting s rme d – have V Get i on t rtual T he w ours . aiti ng l ist!
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izing togetherness, and for dessert a cake representing the year’s Zodiac animal.” Mark added, “When we host, our house is decorated inside and out with lanterns and we greet visitors with oranges for a sweet New Year. Of course, this year’s celebration with our forever families and friends will be online.” Leasider realtor Michael Wong and his family’s celebration will be quite different this year. “It’s a family affair for us,” he said. This is a humble comment given that his father, Dr. Joseph Wong, is the founder of the Yee Hong Foundation and annual gala. “My brother and I have been volunteering for years at the Dragon Ball, one of the country’s largest and most prestigious CNY celebrations, which raises funds for Yee Hong Foundation, a non-profit organization providing culturally appropriate care for seniors in the GTA. This year’s fundraiser is online, so volunteers aren’t needed, and of course the pandemic mandates our family of four celebrate at home and do a video call with the extended family.” Mike added, “Usually we clean the house before the new year and give the kids good fortune red money packets. We try and meet with our whole family over meals to celebrate togetherness and the new year. We’ll do hot pot at home or go out for dim sum and have dumplings, panfried radish cake, a duck and fish dish and sometimes to a non-Chinese restaurant avoiding the crowds. When my wife’s family were still in Toronto, her grandma would start dinner prep two days beforehand. It would be a big meal event with many delicious dishes.” When asked if he sees signs of Chinese New Year in the neighbourhood, Mike commented, “you might see the occasional red good luck sign or a cut-out of the incoming Chinese Zodiac animal and perhaps some firecracker decorations hanging near the front door to ward off evil spirits.” So, keep an eye out for Year of the Ox decorations in Leaside, let us know your favourites, and set Feb. 12th as a date to celebrate a fun family event. n
From Page 3 a century. Richard Bergeron added the speed and capacity of his former company, A&R Advertising, when he merged the two organizations in 1990. Today, Accurate services an active client list of 2,000 customers throughout the GTA and surrounding areas - Brampton to Markham and Mississauga to the Pickering town line. The largest number of customers come from the real estate industry, followed by private schools, churches, dentists, and construction companies. Also on the Accurate client list are such notable institutions as the Canadian Breast Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and City of Toronto. Like every other small business, Accurate Distributing has suffered from the pandemic. “It sure affected our business,” he says, “like it did most businesses out there. We had to move to a new facility at 31 Commercial Road. It was a big saving for us,” he said. “The real reason for the move was the unpredictability of this pandemic and mostly the reactions people have to it.” The new location was chosen specifically to meet their requirements. “When I saw the location at 31 Commercial, I knew it would involve a lot of work and money,” Bergeron says. “But it seemed like a great location, so I thought the investment would make sense,” he added. The time of Covid has changed the business. But the enterprise continues, and still provides jobs for 10 full-time and 40 part-time staff. “In the old days we distributed for most city councillors and we did the IDOMO catalogues for years, Bergeron says. “Those disappeared. Then we did a lot of construction, pizza stores, Asian food outlets and really all kinds of stores. “Today we do a lot of realtor postcards, construction, schools, hydro, hair and health places. All kinds really.” So, the methods for talking to your neighbour have changed a little. But they still exist, and they still work. Get busy on that widget. Note: We are proud to have Accurate as our local door-todoor distributor since the outset of Leaside Life. n
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Leaside Life • February 2021
Leasider Michael Neale shapes up for the Push ‘Your’ Limits weekend
Leaside Life • February 2021
by LORNA KRAWCHUK North Leasider Michael Neale stresses that “I am not an athlete, I am a recreational runner, and I enjoy testing myself while not killing myself.” He had read earlier about David Goggins’ 4 x 4 x 48 challenge (running four miles/6.4km), every four hours, for 48 hours) and was intrigued. It is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Last October, Michael decided that rather than just trying to do this himself, he would see about organizing a fundraising event using this as its basis. He had already run an ultramarathon in support of The Maddie Project, and decided that cooperating with this charity in a more meaningful way would work well for him, the father of three teenagers, during the COVID winter. (The Maddie Project is a registered charity founded in 2015 to support youth struggling with mental health concerns, in loving memory of Madeline Grace Ger-
man Coulter by her parents, Nicole German and Chris Coulter.) Michael chose the name Push ‘Your’ Limits to acknowledge that each person has particular physical and mental challenges. Now, with Push ‘Your’ Limits scheduled for the weekend starting March 5, Michael is out training, getting the word out to runners who may want to join in, businesses which might sponsor a team, or those willing to donate. Runners can also form a two- or three-person team to split up the runs. John Stanton, the president and founder of the Running Room, has already endorsed the event. Canadian Running Magazine published an article supporting it. Participants include another Leasider, Jason Furlano, who just completed running 5,500 km (the equivalent of a cross-Canada run) for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
Michael plans to do most of his running outdoors, on a set route through north and south Leaside. He might make an exception for the 4 a.m. laps, where running indoors on a treadmill might not feel as rough as being outside. All distances and times will be authenticated on Strava or other tracking services. The Leaside Life website will feature the route and approximate timing closer to the time so you can come out and cheer him and others on. Michael explains that “you will be better prepared for 2021 when you come out of this, because you go through the lows to get to the highs.” He also recalls David Goggins’ statement that this event puts “callouses on your mind” to help strengthen it. The Push ‘Your’ Limits Weekend is being coordinated by the North York General Hospital Foundation for The Maddie Project. For further information, google/search: Push Your Limits Weekend North York General or see TheMaddieProject. ca or phone 416-816-5251. n
Leaside Life leasidelife.com Editor: Jane W. Auster Publisher: Lorna Krawchuk Webmaster: Erin Sorhaug Graphic Design: Robin Dickie Advertising: Karli Vezina
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Meet Leslie Kellen, incoming president of the LBPA
Leaside Life • February 2021
If you haven’t already met Leslie Kellen, the newly appointed president of the Leaside Business Park Association (LBPA), all you need to know is he is a man of action. Recently, and armed with a set of questions from the editorial team at Leaside Life, I had the opportunity to sit down with Leslie to discuss his views on the LBPA and the role it plays in the community. “Chop wood,” “pull on that thread,” “do the hard yard” are some of the action-oriented phrases he adds to almost every answer. I found Leslie to be full of energy and passion, and this bodes well for the future of business in Leaside. Leslie is a partner and the director of operations for XYZ Storage, a business with five locations in Toronto including the facility at 1 Laird Drive. He was appointed president at the last LBPA annual general meeting a month ago and has hit the ground running. His overarching focus for the LBPA will be on driving accountability, building a unified voice for the park, capitalizing on synergies with key Leaside stakeholders, and enabling proactive communications. Here’s a
Glenn Asano The Business of Leaside
snapshot of what we discussed: To begin, he noted, “I am grateful to my predecessor, Dag Enhorning, for his leadership and outstanding contributions to the LBPA during his presidency.” Mr. Enhorning will continue to serve the board as treasurer. Then, Kellen confirmed the biggest change at the LBPA is that it is growing and “looking to proactively expand our membership; this is the biggest difference Leslie Kellen you will notice in 2021.” The need for a unified voice and broad representation of businesses located in the park comes at a time when there are several external factors affecting the
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business park including responding to the pandemic, the arrival of the Eglinton Crosstown stations, Metrolinx planning, various development initiatives, and the increased adoption of new technology.
Working together to succeed “The LBPA will be inclusive and support innovation and explore synergies with the excellent and diverse stakeholder groups in the park and throughout the city of Toronto,” he told me. The key to the LBPA’s future success leading business in the park is the “ability to adapt and grow and to work together with all our stakeholders but through the lens of the business park while continuing our advocacy efforts to answer the needs in the community.” On plans for the business park, his focus will be deliverables associated with the LBPA mandate: promoting the business park as a desirable place to conduct business is a given. The real challenge is how the LBPA will operationalize that mandate. The first step is to come together with their stakeholders and “begin to speak more openly with those players to identify synergies and of course areas of potential disagreement before they become an impediment to progress.” He would like to “get out ahead of legacy issues that may have caused friction in the past, but are worth revisiting given the challenge we collectively face and, armed with new information and goals, work collectively and holistically to mitigate those concerns.” He added, “we have so many important groups, like the Leaside Residents Association, the Bayview Leaside BIA, the Thorncliffe Park community, that you can’t discuss this in a vacuum.” He even brought up the importance of the new Leaside Heritage committee and how “it could play a role in promoting the business park’s rich history.” Successful businesses in Leaside have a long-term view, he noted, because the City of Toronto is well-positioned for growth, and Leaside is well positioned within the city because of its unique set of advantages. “Businesses that put down roots in the park will benefit from generational investments like the new Laird and Leslie
Setting priorities The future will be about “assessing the park’s infrastructure and general readiness to successfully support our desire to see all business grow and thrive in the park.” It will be a “two-pronged approach where we prioritize between the urgent and the important. For example, COVID-19-related changes that affect members have been our immediate focus. Post-pandemic, the planning process that Dag originally initiated will form the platform to support our future growth. For the ‘important’ initiatives, that is where it gets exciting and fun because we see attractive mid- and longer-term opportunities for improvements in infrastructure and positioning that will benefit the wider community.” When asked how he sees working with LRA on future issues, he responded “absolutely, and on as many issues as possible.” In my opinion, collaborating on issues that have the backing of both our business community AND our residential community to further Leaside interests presents a much more pow-
erful voice to the powers that be. Leslie left me with an ‘ask’ – how do we get more people involved with LBPA initiatives? From what I have seen, if the LBPA works through 2021 to grow its membership, reaches out to key stakeholders to do some collaborative planning, and increases its outward communication, then more people will naturally get involved. In the meantime, I am more optimistic than ever that the LBPA will successfully emerge post-pandemic stronger and more passionate about its mission than ever before. What are some key projects you would like to see Leaside’s various organized community groups collaborate on to improve outcomes for all of us? What LBPA programs would you like to see in the community? Would you like to volunteer time to work on unique projects together with the LBPA? n Leasider Glenn Asano is a partner and principal consultant for the strategy and business development practice at Centred Performance. He is also an Instructor with the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.
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Leaside Life • February 2021
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Leaside Life • February 2021
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Cats are often featured in works of art and are the pets of choice for many great artists. It is fitting, then, that 4Cats Art Studio (Leaside) on Bayview south of Merton St. is named after a café frequented by Picasso and other artists in Barcelona. This 4Cats is a popular art workshop for children aged six to 13 which opened in the summer of 2019 and has been thriving during the pandemic with full classes. The Leaside location is the most recent Toronto addition to the 4Cats Art Studios chain, which boasts 45 locations across Canada. Vancouver artists Joey and Darryl Simon founded the company in 2005. When they were told that their premature son might have learning difficulties, they turned to art as a vehicle to make learning more fun for him. Soon they were also teaching his siblings and cousins and opening their first studio in this largely family-run business. Angelica (Angie) Santana, the district supervisor for East Toronto, explains that Leaside was chosen in response to a need for another east end studio in addition to their Beaches and Danforth locations, and because it is a growing neighbourhood “bubbling with the excitement of young families.” Angie was a filmmaker and art teacher in Brazil before coming to Toronto three years ago to do post-graduate work in community arts and falling in love with Canada and her job. The main program at 4Cats is their Exploratory Art classes, season-long weekly programs with 90-minute
classes. These project-based classes offer the students a choice between two different mediums, such as painting or clay, every two to four weeks. They also study art history since the projects are inspired by specific artists. This is the “artist focus” part of the class where they explore the artists’ lives, artistic movements and inspirations, and discuss the mediums, tools and techniques they are using. As the website states, their goal is to foster a “love of art and learning,” independence and creativity in a studio where everyone works together. In addition to the regular program, the studio offers winter, spring and summer camps, PA Day camps, private birthday parties, and clay and painting workshops for children and adults. Each studio has a minimum of two instructors with backgrounds in art education specializing in clay or painting. The studio also has an online option, comprising individual art kits delivered to homes with info about the online classes to accompany them. This part of the business expanded dramatically this past year, and the company recently introduced “subscription box” kits with different projects delivered every month. According to Angie, the Leaside community has been very welcoming, giving the studio overwhelmingly positive feedback and support. Parents have called 4Cats “a beacon of light” for their children, who enjoy showing off their projects. For more info about their programs and current Covid protocols, visit leasideartstudio.com. n
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Leaside Life • February 2021
Welcome to winter, Leaside! The motto of our City’s Parks, Forestry, and Recreation division is “a City within a park” – a sentiment that has been more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spending time outdoors is not only one of the few activities we can continue to do safely, but is also essential to our health and wellbeing. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can improve mental health, enhance memory and cognitive function, reduce stress, as well as improve creative thinking and problem-solving. Toronto’s parks and green spaces have served as a cornerstone of our City’s ongoing pandemic response. Throughout the winter months, the City has remained committed to providing residents with safe opportunities for outdoor recreation through the Welcome T.O. Winter Parks Plan, which provides enhanced access and maintenance at parks and public recreation facilities across Toronto. Specific opportunities in Don Valley West include:
n w O e's d i s Lea
Councillor, Ward 15, Don Valley West
• The Archery Range at E.T. Seaton Park. • Natural Ice Rinks at Bennington Heights Park, Brookfield Parkette, Cheltenham Park, Leaside Park, Trace Manes Park, and Wanless Park. • Outdoor Skating at Hodgson Public School from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can make a reservation at https://www.toronto.ca/ skating-winter-sports. • Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing at City-owned golf courses, along the Don Valley ravine trails, and the Beltline trail. • Enhanced Winter Maintenance on select pathways to allow for longer walks, including Sunnybrook Park, Wilket
Creek Park, and E.T. Seton Park. Parking lots are also open in each park, and public washrooms are available in Sunnybrook Park and Wilket Creek Park. Additionally, more than 800 playgrounds across the City will remain open throughout the winter, including the recently-completed Georgia Walsh Memorial Playground at Trace Manes Park. The new Georgia Walsh Memorial Playground features a contemporary play structure, splash pad, shade structure, water bottle-filling station, improved pathways and landscaping, and a donor recognition wall to be installed in the spring. This new community asset would not have been possible without Jillian Walsh’s incredible leadership, as well as the generous donors who funded the project. As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in our City, please remember to adhere to the most current Public Health advice. You can learn more about the City’s response to COVID-19 by visiting www.toronto.ca/covid-19. n
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Currently, due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, all Toronto schools are closed to in-person learning until at least February 10, 2021. When the first shutdown occurred after March Break last year, the TDSB was unprepared for a prolonged closure. Teachers had little to no training in online pedagogy, there was a lack of widespread technology, and the Ministry of Education provided limited guidance and few expectations for learning. This time around, our ability to pivot to remote learning has improved dramatically. All teachers have received professional development for online teaching, and thousands of TDSB staff have accessed an additional variety of online, free training programs. When schools closed in December for winter break, all of our teachers had online classrooms set up and running, students and staff took home everything they would need, and all Leaside schools ensured students who would need devices would receive them. On January 4th, when all schools officially moved to online learning, Leaside schools were ready. This is not to say that online learning is easy or works for everyone. For the 2020-2021 school year, the Ministry of Education set high expectations for live, interactive learning, often referred to as “synchronous” learning. Educators were
required to provide synchronous learning to kindergarten students for 180 minutes/day, and to students in Grades 1-8 for 225 minutes/day. However, now that all learning is remote, parental concerns about synchronous learning have changed somewhat. Last year, many Leaside parents found their children did not have enough of the personal connection offered by synchronous learning; now, parents are raising concerns about too much synchronous learning, especially for our youngest learners. Despite the impressive efforts of our educators, parents of our youngest learners are finding it hard to work at home while supervising and helping with online learning. Kindergarten and primary students need help logging in, frequent breaks and help with snacks and lunchtime. Although older students are more independent, many still struggle to engage in online work. For students with special needs, the challenges are even more pronounced. Consequently, the Ministry has required schools to remain open for special education students who cannot manage remote learning. In Leaside, Northlea’s Intensive Support Program welcomes 10 students each and every school day, despite the provincial lockdown. Many students with special needs receive physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and more when they are in school. In a remote setting, none of these supports is available, causing longterm setbacks and developmental gaps. The willingness of those front-line educators who answered the call to come in at a time when
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Leaside Life • February 2021
Leaside schools pivot again
Leaside Life • February 2021
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Did you know? In 1950, Mayor H.H. Talbot and Reeve Trace Manes declared that the population had hit the 11,000 mark. They suggested a “sold out” sign should be hung on the Town of Leaside sign. Can you imagine what Talbot and Manes would think today, with more than 11,000 new residents expected in Leaside over the next several years?
Quiet skies over Leaside Have you noticed that Leaside has been considerably quieter since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, especially overhead? The Greater Toronto Airport Authority has reported that passenger activity has decreased 69.5% during the nine months ended September 30th. As the global aviation industry faces continued challenges, I must admit that I actually miss the whir of a jet engine overhead as it carries it passengers to destinations unknown.
Shop local! At every opportunity, the contributors to Leaside Life encourage our readers to Shop Local. With the Ontario’s government continued State of Emergency, the need is greater than ever. The Idler is calling on Leasiders to first think how you can support a Leaside business before spending your money elsewhere. Many Bayview and neighbourhood merchants are offering curbside pickup and local delivery, or are able to ship your orders to you at home. The hallmark of Leaside businesses has been the outstanding support they give to our community; now it is time for us to show them our love and dollars.
We’re still standing I’m Still Standing – did you happen to see the amazing video produced by Leaside’s own Dr. Ben Chan and friends? The video, which celebrates
the resilience of our local enterprises, was released at the virtual New Year’s Levee co-hosted by MP Rob Oliphant and MPP Kathleen Wynne. Ready to watch? Google: Dr. Ben Chan Youtube and enjoy.
Eco6ix Contest Local resident Paul Bolte and a couple of friends, John & David, are great examples of the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in Leaside. Their new company, Eco6ix, manufactures and sells Canadian made, eco-friendly, non-medical grade, bamboo-cotton face masks. They also want to help reduce plastic pollution and are encouraging us all to take action and safely pick up any plastic on the ground and place it in the proper recycling bin. You can even win a prize, check out eco6ix.ca for more details on Project Plastic Pickup.
Scammers Leaside resident Maria G. sent a note to warn Leasiders of the two scamming folks who have been “working” on Bayview lately. She states “One is positioned in front of Shoppers Drug Mart. The other in front of the Dollar Store and seen leaving with a middle aged man in a blue Audi SUV. She suggests that once people stop giving them money, they will leave. Have you seen them?
Leaside Day? There is Family Day, Canada Day and Victoria Day. What about a Leaside Day? Do you think there is any community interest in choosing a day when our community celebrates itself? How about April 23rd – the date when the Town of Leaside was incorporated or March 11th – the birthday of Frederick Gage Todd, the American-born landscape architect who was responsible for the Leaside Garden City design we all enjoy to this day, or perhaps October 26th, which marked the completion of the Leaside Viaduct in 1927 that led to the rapid growth of Leaside. Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org n
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Leaside Gardener
It doesn’t matter that our February in the north is cold and snowy or that it can tease us with the promise of spring. February is a month we cherish because this is when we celebrate love and devotion. Having said that, I can think of no better time to acknowledge my fellow green thumbs because I know, firsthand, how much love and devotion it took to garden last year during the pandemic. Thank you to all those who volunteered in community gardens and gardened, not just for themselves but for others, the environment and future generations. You are special green thumbs with enormous green hearts and I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valley Midtown, Eco Anselm, St. Cuthbert’s Church, Ben Chan and Tim Short (all nominated by local Leasiders) for their amazing green efforts. And this was just the beginning. There were still many great green stories to tell you about. Because of the difficulty of writing Leaside Green during the pandemic, we put the column on the back burner. That is, until now!
Debora Kuchme Columnist
Calling all green hearts
Leaside Green lives on When Cheryl Vanderburg and I joined forces to write our Leaside Green columns, it was because we strongly believed there were so many great green stories in Leaside to shine a light on. It turns out, we were right!
In our April, 2020 article we paid tribute to some of our local Green Heroes including Cycle Don
What if Leaside Green became a ‘have your say’ column where Leasiders could share your green ideas...a place where you could express your green dreams, your green initiatives and even your green issues? This could be your chance to use your voice, inspire us all and help make Leaside a greener and cleaner community. This is our hope for the next phase of Leaside Green. We want to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts at email@example.com and we’ll take it from there. Happy Green Valentine’s Day! n
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Leaside Life • February 2021
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Q. When does a storage shed become a hot topic? A. When it is no longer just a storage shed of course! A newly built “ancillary structure” in the backyard of a North Leaside house has led to a flurry of interest on Leaside Facebook sites. The owner has been saying how great their new home office is. Others say – how come this got built? Some folks are opposed and some supportive. The thing is that it appears that the actual use/layout has changed from what was applied for and approved. Let’s look at what happened. The applicant applied in October, 2019 to the Committee of Adjustment (CofA) for permission to construct a storage shed in the backyard with several “minor” variances (reduced side yard setbacks, deficient rear yard soft landscaping). Based on the intended use (storage shed) and the plans, the Leaside Residents Association (LRA), did not feel a need to comment. But despite several letters of support submitted from neighbours, the application was refused by the Committee. As is their right, the owner appealed the CofA’s refusal of the application to the Toronto Local Appeal Board (TLAB). In February, 2020, TLAB heard and approved the appeal. Present at the hearing were the applicant and the applicant’s expert witness. There were no residents present. And neither was the LRA, who, having not participated at the Committee stage, was not aware that the refusal had been appealed. The primary issue is whether the “as built” construction matches what was approved by the TLAB. The application approved by the
Saving old Leaside
the LRA. The LRA was not given an opportunity to participate because the LRA did not send in a letter or appear at the CofA. Typically in these cases (where they are aware), the resident association requests the Councillor bring a motion to have City staff oppose the appeal at TLAB (and they usually agree). But this case may be more – it may be a preview of a type of development that may soon be permitted under the “garden suites” initiative that is currently being developed by City Planning, and which is expected to come to City Council later this year. Garden suites, sometimes called “granny suites,” allow a separate independent living accommodation on the lot, representing a “house behind a house” situation. This was previously forbidden due to safety issues, due to the lack of access to the street in case of emergencies, environmental issues such as reduced absorptive capacity, and increased runoff, noise, etc. And it is being proposed to be based on “as of right” approval without neighbour consultation! Is any of this a concern to you? Please let me know (and copy Councillor Jaye Robinson as well). n G. KETTEL
Leaside Life • February 2021
Storage shed becomes hot topic
TLAB stated that the structure was for ‘storage’. The drawings even show multiple bikes stored in this “shed.” The plans did not show any HVAC system or water. Fast forward to today and the North York Building Department has agreed to check that “as built” construction complies with the TLAB decision. If it is indeed the case that “as built” does not comply with the application as approved, the City should ensure that the project is changed to comply. A secondary issue VHS is a procedural Betamax one. As noted, the 8mm TLAB did not hear MiniDV Film from residents or
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Why your membership matters Thereâ€™s nothing Carol Burtin Fripp like holding a rate- Co-president, payer associationâ€™s LRA Annual General Meeting to remind us, once again, how needed such groups are. And how important it is to keep in touch with residentsâ€™ concerns. Leasiders are not shrinking violets when it comes to expressing opinions about what they (you) want protected, improved, and opposed. The Leaside Residents Association (LRA) is fortunate to work for a community which is well defined â€“ and well regarded across the city. Our policies are community-driven. Having said this, we depend not only on your guidance, we also depend on your becoming members of the LRA. Your donations and memberships renewed annually make our work possible. What do you get with your membership dues? You get our board, comprising Leasiders who represent your positions on development and traffic issues at the Committee of Adjustment and appeal bodies; at North York Community Council; and at City committees and Council. You get the LRA meeting with City planners on numerous local and city-wide development applications and policies, and sending out e-blasts to keep residents informed. We have a close working relationship with our Councillor, Jaye Robinson. We write a lot of letters and reports on a wide range of topics. Among them: Metrolinx Crosstown construction complaints, noise problems, traffic infiltration, heritage issues, faulty house renovation practices and other bylaw infractions. When you contact us with your questions, we try to find answers. When necessary, the LRA hires planners and/or legal consultants to prepare formal deputations and support the communityâ€™s positions. We hold an annual meeting, as well as monthly board meetings on the first Wednesday of each month which are open to the public, whether the meetings are by Zoom or in person. Who are the LRA board of directors? We include two architects with experience in residential and commercial projects; a former insurance executive; three lawyers with extensive and varied experience; two professional planners with provincial and municipal backgrounds; and I am a former current affairs television producer. None of us has financial or professional interests with any applications we review. We are all volunteers. We are also your neighbours. Would you like to join us on the board? You do not need to be an expert, you only need to be interested in whatâ€™s going on in the community, and interested in playing a part in keeping Leaside a good place to live. Your memberships support our work. We urge you to join the LRA with an annual $30 membership, and to renew if youâ€™re already a member, by visiting our website (lpoa.ca). n The LRA boardâ€™s next monthly meeting is on Wed., Feb. 3rd at 7:30 p.m., via Zoom. If youâ€™d like to listen or participate, please let us know so we can send you the Zoom details.
Leaside Life â€˘ February 2021
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