Leaside Life Issue 111 August 2021

Page 1

AU G U S T 2021

Leaside Life leasidelife.com

No. 111

New local drive-thru Environment Days Pg. 22





by SUSAN POAPS Digging up dog strangling vine was surely an unconventional way to celebrate Canada Day, but to the devotees of Don’t Mess With The Don it was a day of connecting with likeminded people and giving back to Mother Earth. DMWTD began as a S ES group of local nature IN enthusiasts deeply concerned about

the amount of neglect in Toronto’s vast ravine system, including those adjoining Leaside. Full disclosure: I am a dedicated member of DMWTD. “We regularly make use of the trails but were disheartened to see the amount of dumping going on, primarily adjacent to apartment buildings,” spokesperson Floyd Ruskin says. “We also want to advocate for healthy green spaces by ridding the


Advocating for local ravines valley of rampant invasive species such as dog strangling vine and replacing it with native plants.” Though stewardship and advocacy for the ravine system are a primary focus for the group, they stress the desire to fix issues at the source and stop the recurring problems and behaviours at the root. “We are looking to work with stakeholders at all levels to get a maintainable solution that can DMWTD Page 11


Editor’s Welcome


Leaside Life • August 2021



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things that have kept me sane during the pandemic

Last week I had a coffee – in person – at a sidewalk café. While hardly a stopthe-presses announcement, you have to understand that I hadn’t done this simple act of meeting up with a friend, including an elbow bump, in public, for close to a year and a half. To say I was out of practice in the gentle art of conversation sans Zoom is putting it mildly. But I soldiered on, and we agreed to “do this again soon.” For so many of us, the past several months have been a trial by isolation. That’s why the little things have come to mean that much more during our personal pandemics. Herewith my top 6, by no means exhaustive, list of Leaside places, people and things that have kept me sane during the pandemic (in no particular order): #1. Ravines and green spaces. Leaside boasts some of the finest natural resources in the city, whether it’s Serena Gundy Park and Sunnybrook or Crothers Woods, or the many surprising smaller parks that dot Leaside north and south. #2. Outstanding and reawaken-

Jane Auster Editor Leaside Life

ing shopping on Bayview, Millwood, Laird, and other little pockets throughout Leaside. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Leaside’s businesses for toughing out the pandemic and helping to take care of us in the face of incredible odds. Thank you! #3. Enhanced connections to neighbours. If there’s one thing that’s come out of this mess, it’s the importance of fostering connections with Thorncliffe – and just beyond to Flemingdon. Food drives, clothing drives, vax clinics, bike-shares have all raised our awareness of the importance of neighbours helping neighbours. #4. Local pharmacies vaccinating Leasiders. Pharmacists have honed their injection skills to deliver COVID19 vaccinations to hundreds – thousands? – of Leasiders. We couldn’t have done it without you. #5. Interesting new developments. The face of Leaside is changing...and


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Ever consider joining a garden club?

Debora Kuchme Columnist

(and some men) I’ve ever met. Garden clubs have traditionally appealed to an older audience. Is Milne House doing anything to attract younger members?

Patrick Rocca bro ke r

The traditional audience is still the backbone of garden clubs because these are the individuals with the time to devote to the club. They’re also the members who have a wealth of experience in gardening, design and sourcing materials. If they don’t know the answer, they know someone who does. But we will be running a program called Gardening 101 with availability to the public. This may be of interest to first-time homeowners as we know people have been craving green space and growing container plants on balconies or decks and integrating edibles into their ornamental plantings. How did the club operate during lockdown? Given the pandemic, garden clubs have had to learn to adapt in the same ways as businesses and individuals. Many of our programs, including workshops and guest speakers were done online and our monthly socials continued with Zoom. Will this change how the club operates in the future?

GARDEN Page 21


Leaside Life • August 2021

The Leaside Gardener


If you became one of the many firsttime pandemic gardeners last year or recently moved to Leaside, you may not be aware of how much garden inspiration, information and support is right here and all around you. But now, it’s not only the new gardeners who need help. With a greater interest in gardening for the environment, both seasoned gardeners and newbies are seeking good local information on how best to garden with climate change. If you never thought about joining a garden club before, perhaps my recent conversation with Dale Gardiner from the Milne House Garden Club will help plant that seed and give you some food for thought. Why did you join a garden club? I never thought of joining a gardening club. I thought they were populated by ‘older’ women whose experience level was far greater than mine. But I was encouraged to join a meeting in January, 2019 and that’s when the Milne House club members shattered my preconceived notions. These were the most agile, interesting, knowledgeable group of women


This Simcoe Day holiday, think of Leasider Michael Stevenson

Leaside Life • August 2021

by LORNA KRAWCHUK Why is this man dressed in a military uniform from the early 1800s? Michael Stevenson, a Leasider for over 50 years, is originally from Yorkshire. After completing training at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, he served in the British Army all over the Commonwealth. (Read Allan Williams’ interview with Michael in the Nov. 2016 issue of Leaside Life to learn more.) All told, he served and visited 42 countries. In charge of British Week in Regina in 1967, he met up with the Commanding Officer of the Queen’s York Rangers in Toronto on his way home to Britain. The CO made a persuasive case for a move to Canada for Michael and his family that saw them take up residence here that same year. Once in Canada, though no longer serving in the military as his day job, he kept his military connections through the Queen’s York Rangers, a Canadian Armed Forces Reserves unit.

The Queen’s York Rangers happened to be the regiment connected to John Graves Simcoe, the first LieutenantGovernor of Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario), and the City

of Toronto was honouring Simcoe by giving his name to the August civic holiday. It also just so happened that Michael took command of the Queen’s York Rangers at this time. He wondered, why not get some publicity for the regiment by having “someone” dress up as Simcoe? By default, he became the “someone” when no one else volunteered. This was also the time when the Honorary Colonel of the Queen’s York Rangers was David Stewart from Montreal – who had recently sold Macdonald Stewart Tobacco to set up the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, and had a keen interest in Canadian history. He bankrolled having a replica of Simcoe’s uniform tailored in England for Michael to wear. For the next several years, Michael Stevenson donned his Simcoe uniform regularly to preside and speak at any number of Simcoe events in and around Toronto, including locally at Todmorden Mills in what was then the Borough of East York, laying wreaths at Simcoe’s statue at Queen’s Park, attending dinners at the Royal York Hotel, appearing at public events in the City of Toronto, and even “being Simcoe” at the naming of a bridge honouring Simcoe’s wife, Elizabeth, near Newmarket. The uniform is now on display in the Museum of the Queen’s York Rangers at the Fort York Armories. Michael is still here in Leaside. n

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that’s a good thing. While heritage must be celebrated and preserved, there’s plenty of room for new places and faces. The west side of Bayview is transforming. Laird and Millwood are evolving. As new buildings dot the landscape and new people move in, expect new vibrancy to follow. #6. The Leaside Residents Association. No list would be complete without a shout-out to the residents’ association that works so hard to represent the interests of Leasiders. Through tireless efforts they’ve achieved incredible wins for the community. Bravo! n





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Leasider Gema Zepeda finds A New Beginning as budding author Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders. Christopher Paolini, Eragon. Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl. Miles Franklin, My Brilliant Career. Common link? All in their teens when they wrote their bestselling classics. And now there’s a new young light making her mark in the literary world. Meet Leasider Gema Zepeda, author of A New Beginning. But what’s even more remarkable is that Gema is no teen. She wrote and published her book at 8. A New Beginning tells the story of Jessica, who has to adjust to moving to a new town and a new school. Meeting a whole new group of kids at school, she imparts, through her book, a great, and important, message about adapting to new situations, the power of bullies, and the greater power of standing up bravely to them. Not only is the fact that she wrote


Leaside Life • August 2021


Gema with one of her creations.

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this book at such an early age an amazing feat, but also that Gema, now 9, only learned to speak English at the age of 4 when she and her parents, Jaqueline Mancía and Oscar Zepeda, moved to Canada from El Salvador. She now speaks English and Spanish, and is in a French immersion program at school. Gema’s dad notes, “I am amazed by her smooth transition to a new language and school. I am so glad that she can express herself through words and I hope that she continues writing stories in the future.” Gema can often be found painting, drawing, building, reading, and, of course, writing. Described by her mom as “artistic, creative, friendly, generous, gentle, quiet, inventive, imaginative, brave, honest, and funny,” Gema even started her own YouTube channel – Twinkle starz moon – to transform her digital drawing and imagination into stories. She notes that her favourite stories are about “kids and animals,” both of whom feature prominently in her book. Gema’s parents are both instrumental in her love of the arts. Her father illustrated her book while her mother shares a special love of storytelling with her daughter. Every night since Gema was a baby, Jaqueline has made up a new story, which teaches a special lesson. Gema’s aunt, also a writer, has penned 135 children’s books. Having kept them privately for her family and friends, her aunt has now been inspired by Gema to start publishing her works. Gema’s love of both people and animals shines through in her life. She has sent hundreds of letters to long term care home residents in Toronto, and donated half the sales of her book in April and May to the Toronto Humane Society. Take a look on multiple bookseller sites to find A New Beginning in both hard cover and downloadable versions. You might just be purchasing the first book of a future prize-winning novelist. n

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Leaside Life • August 2021


Holland Bloorview expanding children’s lives by SUZANNE PARK Famous sociologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Right in Leaside’s backyard, Holland Bloorview is proving her spot-on yet again. On May 10, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) announced they have begun construction on the final phase of their largest research expansion, thanks to the $23 million of $32 million raised so far from individuals, corporate donors, private foundations and associations towards this bold fundraising campaign goal. “We’re at the forefront of radical change in the way childhood disability research is being conducted to ensure children with disabilities and medical complexities have access to the latest research and technology,” says Tom Chau, vice president of research and director of BRI. Nadia Tanel, director of research, growth and expansion, adds,


Leaside Life • August 2021


L-r: Julia Hanigsberg, President CEO, Tom Chau, Vice-President of Research, and Sandra Hawken, President and CEO of Holland Bloorview Foundation break ground on the hospital expansion.

“Despite hiccups over the past 18 months, we’ve kept on track and learned new ways to get things done including safety protocols.” Tanel is passionate when speaking about the expansion’s goals: “The installation of Canada’s first research MRI (covered in Leaside Life, Jan. 2020) that is immersive, customizable, child-friendly and fully accessible, which will support the growth of a world-class devel-

opmental neuroscience program; a fully accessible playground; attracting top scientific talent – resulting in the most significant concentration of childhood disability research in the world; creation of nine new discovery hubs; and acceleration of commercialization activity that will unleash the potential of BRI’s scientific and technological discoveries to make the most meaningful and healthy futures for children, youth and families around the world.” The project has three phases. The first was the state-of-the-art, fully accessible playground opened in partnership with Bloorview School Authority and Kindercircle and with the generosity of donors. The second is the fourth-floor renovation where the BRI will be housed and the area transformed into an open work environment providing opportunities for both collaboration and individual work. The third phase, a two-floor expansion (Summer 2022) is adding 11,000 sq. ft. of space for new discovery hubs, research teams and state-of-theart research equipment. This expansion connects to the BRI by a “front porch” – a welcoming space where researchers, clients, families and staff can mingle, collaborate and share knowledge. And since the renovation will be contained within the hospital, she adds, there will be minimal impact to the surrounding community. The project’s impressive research team includes 41 scientists/investigators and 137 research trainees including undergrad and graduate students, and post-doctoral students working and collaborating in 11 research labs/centres. Learn more, contribute: https://hollandbloorview.ca. n

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Remember when Godspell reigned on Bayview?

Leaside Life • August 2021


Growing up just a block away, I couldn’t count the number of times I cruised up and down Bayview, usually on errands for my mother that almost always included buying milk or picking something up from Badali’s. Of course, having spent a couple of summers and most evenings after school pumping gas at Don Verity’s Esso at Millwood and Bayview, I cut a fine figure shuffling home along Bayview in my oil- and grease-infused work clothes every night shortly past 7. (My mother made me change and leave my work pants in the basement so the gas station smell never quite invaded the rest of the house.) I knew every nook and cranny of those two amazing Bayview shopping blocks running from Parkhurst to Millwood. Back in the mid 1970s, the aptly-named Bayview Playhouse was a fixture on Bayview. Opened in 1936, it operated as a movie theatre until 1961. At some point after that it reopened as a theatre. I remember the show Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris ran there in 1968 (I just looked it up), but I was only eight years old then and never saw it, though

Terry Fallis Columnist

I think my parents did. By the time I started high school in 1973, Godspell was in the middle of a long run at The Bayview Playhouse. Our parents took my brother Tim and me to see it, and the show blew us away. The music was amazing. To this day, I can still sing pretty well the entire score by heart – which may or may not endear me to anyone in close proximity. But there’s more to this story. The Toronto cast of Godspell was nothing short of extraordinary, though at the time, they were all struggling actors trying to hit the big time. Several did. If you saw Godspell at The Bayview Playhouse,


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or at The Royal Alex Theatre in its initial run, you likely saw, very early in their careers, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Gilda Radner, Victor Garber, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, and the great Jayne Eastwood. You would recognize Jayne Eastwood in an instant as a staple of Canadian television including roles on SCTV, The Littlest Hobo, King of Kensington, and Night Heat, not to mention more TV commercials than I can count. Turns out, she was a good friend of one of my mother’s closest friends from her nursing career. One night, after the Sunday matinée Godspell performance that we all attended, Jayne Eastwood came back to our house for drinks and dinner. As a 13-yearold at the time, I’ll never forget having a bona fide star of stage and screen in our home at the corner of Parkhurst and Donegall. She was a riot and still “up” from her performance. My job was to pour her a drink – rye and ginger, if memory serves. She tasted it and asked for a touch more rye. I’m sure that reflected my inexperience mixing drinks. By that stage, no pun intended (or maybe it was), we’d seen the show a few times and loved each performance. But knowing someone in the cast opened new opportunities. On a few occasions thereafter, Tim and I were able to slip in the stage door at the back of the theatre and watch the second half of the show from high up in the wings. The Bayview Playhouse also provided much needed part-time employment for many of our classmates. A who’s who of Leaside High School students were ushers, ticket-takers, coat check staff, and concession stand severs, and they had lots of great stories to tell. In the end, Godspell ran for 488 performances at the Bayview Playhouse and launched the careers of some very big names in the entertainment business. And I learned how to mix a drink long before I’d reached the age of majority. Yep, it all happened in Leaside. 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, all published by McClelland & Stewart. His most recent, Operation Angus, hits bookstores on August 31. n

DMWTD From cover 11

Leaside Life • August 2021

address the issue going forward,” Floyd Ruskin says. For the group, this means engaging with property managers of apartment complexes close to the ravines whose garbage inevitably ends up in these green spaces. “We want to make companies more accountable to the problem – some are receptive and some are not,” says Floyd. Recently achieving charity status for this volunteer group has meant that the thousands of dollars raised so far can go right back into the ravine – every cent. Close to $8,000 raised so far will go toward refurbishing the new headquarters as well as hosting nature and historical walks in the valley now that Covid restrictions are lifting. Canada Day’s turnout saw more than 60 volunteers armed with shovels and gloves concentrate on a particularly overgrown area of the Sun Valley section of the Crothers Woods trail system. One group was tasked with cutting the three-foot high invading plants to the ground while another laboriously dug up the roots in an already cleared area. Bagging and carrying the offending greenery up to Bayview was followed by native species planting. Sponsors of the event included a local realtor, microbrewery and insurance company. Though the pandemic has reduced the number of volunteers at public events, socially distanced pop-ups have attracted steady numbers. Thanks to Loblaws, the group has a permanent home in the parking lot on Redway Rd. in the form of a sea can, which will soon be painted by BC Johnson of Rainbow Tunnel on the Don Valley Parkway fame. In recognition of the ongoing activity during the pandemic, Mayor Tory and Councillor Fletcher have recognized DMWTD as ‘Covid 19 Community Heroes’ for the ongoing effort during lockdown to protect the city’s natural environment. Earlier in the spring, a pop-up event attracted volunteers to the industrial area at the east end of Vanderhoof Rd. bordering E.T. Seton Park. The group collected 55 garbage bags of trash, later picked up by City of Toronto waste management. To get involved, visit https://www. dontmesswiththedon.ca/ n

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Celebrating the outstanding graduates of 2021

Leaside Life • August 2021


Isabella has won numerous medals, national awards and provincial This year’s graduating class at records in hurdles, sprints and hepLeaside High faced challenges tathlon, as well as a few medals in with resilience and deterweightlifting. mination, according to She was attracted to Harvard Carolyn Singer, social for both its academic repuscience teacher, guidance tation and “its great track counsellor and chair of program and team.” While the scholarship commitstudents enrol in general arts Isabella tee. As she says: “They and sciences there, Isabella missed out on senior sports is leaning towards graduate and events, but did not let the school and a career in law. In addiconstant ‘pivots’ stop them from tion, she has hopes of becoming running virtual clubs and schoolan Olympian or professional wide events.” She adds that the staff athlete. are “beyond impressed” with the With her Grade 12 Class of 2021 and their prospects a v e r a g e o f 9 8 . 5 % , Karim for the future. Isabella was a co-recipient Meet five outstanding graduates of the Norman McLeod who exemplify this extraordinary Scholarship for the highest spirit and perseverance. average. She was also chosen Isabella Goudros is unique in two as the valedictorian, and was grateways: She will be attending Harvard ful for the opportunity to connect in September and she is an accomwith the entire graduating class. In plished athlete in both track and field her message, she wanted to highlight and weightlifting. that “it’s okay to be unsure of the Throughout her childhood, she future and that no plan needs to be tried a variety of sports before setset in stone right now” – excellent tling on her two favourites. With her advice for these uncertain times. father as her primary track coach, Karim Nammoura, who immigrated by JANIS FERTUCK


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to Canada from Syria in 2011, plans to study medicine and chose the health science program at Queen’s because of its structure, which, he says, promotes independence and employs “an interdisciplinary learning style which emphasizes the application of knowledge in various ways.” His average of 97.5% earned him a Principal’s Scholarship there. In addition, Karim received three school awards: the Betty Stewart Language Award for French Immersion, the Annie Seme Memorial Scholarship for maths and sciences and the Jose Baptista dos Reis Scholarship for involvement in athletics. His passion for football is evident in his role as the team’s defensive captain, his football award in 2019 and his participation in a city team which won the provincial championships. Karim was the co-president of HOSA, a health science competition club, and vice-president of the Medical Club, both of which gave him the opportunity to pursue his fascination with human biology and his interest in medicine. The well-rounded Karim also volunteered as an assistant language instructor at Thorncliffe Park Public School and at a pharmacy. Sameer Passi is headed to the University of Waterloo next year for the Electrical Engineering Co-op Program. He was attracted to it for the work experience it provides, and with an average of 96%, he received the President’s Scholarship of Distinction. His passion for the sciences is evident in his career goal of working in the engineering area of medical tech- Sameer nology as well as research pertaining to brain and spinal cord injuries. At school, Sameer participated in a wide variety of clubs and groups. He was on the successful robotics team, serving as the captain this past year, and was on the executive of the DECA business club, the investment club and the student council, as well as acting as a peer tutor. As a result of these activities, he was the recipient of the Alumni Association Scholarship for his academic record and outstanding contribution to


Although we were expecting it, we couldn’t help having a sense of foreboding back in 2016 when construction began on the new midrise Upper House condominium at Laird Drive and Malcolm Road. Drawing from the original marketing materials, the Upper House development was originally marketed as a 74-unit, “luxury boutique condo” located “where you want to live.… [with] all that Leaside has to offer and more. Say ‘Hi’ to neighbours,” and “Of course we’re pet friendly… [and] Yes, there’s a pet spa. This is Leaside after all.” For the most part, I agree with the original marketing sentiment about the location. After all, we live next door! Full disclosure: unlike many of the residents who will be similarly affected when the new midrise development projects planned for Laird and Bayview are completed, we purchased with the full knowledge that the old post office building at 2 Laird would be replaced by the Upper House (now known as 25 Malcolm Road). After living through


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Leaside Life • August 2021


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the experience from ground-breaking to occupancy, through this month’s column I aim to highlight some of the pros and cons that the continuing intensification of Leaside will have for those residents living near all the proposed new midrise buildings on the horizon. The number of homes tripled, local business benefits Setting aside the impact on property values and the inconvenience of construction, where we still are dealing with unresolved issues with the developer, I decided to focus on the impact on overall “liveability” after the building was occupied in 2018, namely: the impact on local businesses, traffic, parking, personal safety and ‘petiquette’. To make the effort as productive as possible, I was joined by Neil Pirhonen, president of the Upper House condo corporation. We had a frank and open discussion about post-construction liveability for all residents on our shared street. To begin, speaking with several of our local businesses, I found that the influx of new customers from the Upper House has been a welcome addition to the bottom line and is a positive outcome for the community. The success of these local business owners is paramount to having a wide variety of goods and services readily available for the convenience of us all. The first item I raised with Neil was the increase in activity on the street

from residents, tenants, visitors and deliveries to the building. Clearly, with the number of homes tripling on our street, there is a notable difference. As expected, both vehicle and foot traffic has increased and Neil noted that residents living near future developments should ensure that new builds have planned for adequate parking. When combined with the fact that the average number of vehicles per Leaside household has increased, it is worth it for existing residents to ensure there is adequate visitor-resident parking before a project is approved since there is little recourse afterwards, and poor planning will lead to increased competition for street parking. Increased security deters porch pirates and mischievous tweens Although there are a lot more ‘strangers’ on the street, concerning the general feeling about personal safety, I confirm we have always felt safe. The opportunity for our kids to play road hockey or catch on our street in a carefree manner was not an option before the new midrise so this has not been a factor for us. What I do find though is that an increase in overall activity on the street, together with the visible Upper House security cameras and concierge, all contribute to deterring the likes of unwanted late-night door knocking shenanigans by mischievous tweens and those pesky porch pirates. For the record, Neil also confirmed that there are no Airbnb units in the building as a policy. Next up was ‘petiquette’. Although there are no hard and fast rules beyond common sense and basic manners, the main issue we discussed was how to manage the number of pets that need to ‘go’, where they go and where the subsequent output is deposited. Interestingly, with half of residents being pet owners, Neil reported that their condo board has initiated a campaign to encourage residents to direct the ‘activity’ in a way that minimizes damage to their own gardens as well as nearby residences. Unable to find any relevant bylaws that govern pet relief or the disposal of waste in other people’s bins, I leave this issue up


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Leaside Life • August 2021


Why is Canada Square an issue for Leaside?

Leaside Life • August 2021


Back in the 70s Yonge and Eglinton (or “Yonge and Eligible” as it was called then) featured a mix of older walk-up apartments and new apartment towers, headquarters of major companies like Canadian Tire, TVO and RioCan, and cultural facilities like the Capitol Theatre, and a plaza on the northwest corner that was a gathering place for community BBQs and a farmers’ market. Since then, Y-E has undergone dramatic growth, with many new residential buildings including replacement of smaller apartments with condo towers. Meanwhile some amenities such as the Capitol Theatre declined, and eventually closed, and the plaza on the NW corner was reduced to a coffee shop patio. In a move that at the time (2010) was opposed by many residents, local councillor Karen Stintz supported a plan that replaced an open plaza with three storeys of retail, and added three storeys to each of two office towers. Fast forward to today and Y-E’s growth has been (after downtown) the City’s most successful Urban Growth Centre. Population targets

Geoff Kettel

Saving old Leaside have been exceeded by a large margin: in the Y-E Urban Growth Centre (2016 census), they’re expected to more than double to in excess of 70,000 residents (in one square km) based on currently known development proposals, with many more applications expected. The area lags badly in community services, schools, parks and open spaces, and has lost a significant amount of employment. The southwest quadrant (an area of nine-plus acres) is now the focus. Midtown has come out in massive support for a town centre at Canada Square, the one remaining quadrant at Y-E still with development potential. This quadrant is owned by the City but leased to Oxford Properties on long term lease. Oxford came in with a major development pro-

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posal in 2020 which mostly doubled down on residential development rather than employment or other uses. Council passed a motion by Councillor Matlow, in whose ward the property lies, supported by Councillors Robinson and Colle, whose wards also include lands at Y-E, to have City Planning provide a Special Study Area Report for the redevelopment of the site, and the establishment of a Working Group, with the participation of City staff, midtown residents, businesses, and service providers. The Midtown Town Centre vision described in the Midtown Working Group’s June report “Imagining a New Town Centre for Midtown Toronto,” was based on the view that Canada Square must not be developed as another huge residential complex. The immediate neighbourhood is fully developed, yet lacks essential community services such as sufficient public school and childcare capacity. Yonge and Eglinton, the crossroads of two major transit lines (Line 1 – Yonge and Line 5 – Eglinton Crosstown LRT), is about to become the city’s second major transit hub. The Midtown Town Centre vision suggests such uses as missing community services and educational facilities, innovative employment opportunities, cultural amenities, retail and entertainment uses, as well as a park, and a town square. Canada Square, a City-owned site, is the only remaining Y-E quadrant where this can happen. The residents’ associations adjacent to and some farther away, such as the Leaside Residents Association (of which I am co-president), were united in supporting this vision: “City Council needs to act decisively. We ask for your leadership to develop and adopt creative, innovative solutions that will turn the Canada Square site into the Midtown Town Centre for local residents, the broader Midtown community, as well as for workers and visitors from across the City. This critical City building opportunity cannot be lost.” (Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations [FoNTRA, of which I am co-chair] submission to City Council). What has this got to do with Leaside? While Leaside does not have the growth trajectory of Y-E,

KETTEL Page 18

Leaside Life • August 2021


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Leaside Life • August 2021


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It may be summer, but here at the TDSB we are already well into planning for the 2021-2022 school year. Although it is always exciting to prepare for a new school year, this summer already feels particularly so. When schools opened last September, the pandemic was in full swing, and it’s fair to say most educators felt a certain amount of apprehension. Conversely, this coming year feels full of hope. As I write, case counts this summer have been low, vaccine uptake is high, and children 12 and up are eligible for vaccines at an accelerated pace. Our hope is that we will be able to provide a more normal school year, with the vast majority of students back to in-person learning. So, what will this more normal school year look like? While we continue to wait for more specific updates and direction from the Ministry of Education, we have been told that high school students will be permitted to join up to two cohorts, with a 48-hour break required between cohort changes. As a result, quadmesters will become a thing of the past, and high school students will be able to follow a modified semester schedule. With lots of support from students, and a campaign spearheaded by local Leaside resident and parent Tammy Doane, TDSB trustees such as myself felt comfortable advocating at the Board level and to the Minister of Education for a return to traditional semesters in September should Toronto Public Health deem it safe to do so. Perhaps, just as important, is the expected resumption of extra curriculars. Education Minister Lecce recently promised a return to “safe” extra curriculars. To that end, we are hoping to be allowed to include these vital aspects of our children’s education as a part of the more normal start to the 2021-2022 school year. At this time, we still await direction regarding elementary and middle school routines. With respect to the Board itself, we are also excited to start the school year with a new (and permanent) Director of Education, Colleen Russell-Rawlins. Ms. RussellRawlins is no stranger to the TDSB,

Rachel Chernos Lin

Trustee, Ward 11

having been a student, teacher, principal, superintendent and Associate Director in our Board before assuming her appointment as Interim Director at the Peel District School Board just over a year ago. The entire Board of Trustees was thrilled to secure Ms. Russell -Rawlins for a five-year term as our new Director of Education. Her depth of experience and dedication to student achievement, equity, and parent and community engagement are unparalleled, and we can’t wait for her to begin her term with us in August! As we emerge from the pandemic, we know we are in a strong and stable position under her leadership. And while we look forward to September, I do hope students, families and staff are finding time this summer to relax, recuperate and have some well-deserved fun, so that all are ready for a happy, healthy and productive 2021-2022 school year! n

KETTEL From page 16 we do have major growth happening now, with more coming. The lesson of Y-E is the need for “complete communities.” Remember that the Town of Leaside was planned and developed as a complete community. We can learn from the lessons of Y-E and push for employment, community facilities, and green space, and not just residential development. Frankly, we have been doing this, for example with the RioCan development at Eglinton and Laird, where we pushed for, and achieved an “open plaza” at the corner. And if Y-E can once again become a “cultural destination” for Leaside, that would also be an advantage. n

MIDRISE From page 14 19

Kathleen Wynne, MPP Member of Provincial Parliament for Don Valley West

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Leaside Life • August 2021

to the responsibility of individual pet owners to determine how these actions might be perceived, if not breaking any laws. Leaside is not going to be a ‘condominium neighbourhood’ anytime soon. We face a different challenge. With the arrival of the midrise builtform, our challenge is to figure out how different (if at all) are the lifestyles, attitudes and interests of Leaside’s incumbent homeowners and the newest residents, in an effort to be neighbourly for the benefit of the community as a whole. Mr. Pirhonen’s efforts to willingly engage the local community bodes well for the successful integration of the Upper House residents with the wider community. I’m glad he reached out to say “hi” as all good neighbours do. How will the arrival of midrise buildings in Leaside affect liveability? Research shows that 80 per cent of homeowners are okay with other individuals using their bins. Where do you stand? Should the LRA take steps to diversify the board to ensure condominium and rental buildings are well represented? Let us know at leasidelife@gmail.com. n

The TTC listened to us!

Leaside Life • August 2021


In last month’s column I reported my concerns regarding the future of Leaside’s 88A and 88B bus routes, and my feeling that the Toronto Transit Commission had not fully grasped how important these local routes are for us. This month I am happy to be the bearer of good tidings! Over the last three years I’ve been representing the Leaside Residents Association at the TTC’s annual Service Plan consultation meetings. Previously they had raised the unhappy prospect of significantly reduced public transit availability in south and central Leaside. The TTC’s 2022 Annual Service Plan survey states: “The TTC had planned to consolidate all services on 88 South Leaside to terminate at Laird, but feedback from community consultation showed that the proposal did not suit the needs of transit customers in the area.” In short, the TTC listened to us. Once the Eglinton Crosstown begins to operate, the TTC will adjust the 88A and 88B South routes to link with the new Laird LRT station, while continuing to operate in circular clockwise and counter-clockwise loops, as they

Carol Burtin Fripp Co-president, LRA

do now. They will continue to connect the Leaside and Thorncliffe Park communities, and to run out of the St. Clair subway station. The eastern end of the 88A and 88B routes will extend somewhat, and that could raise the possibility of some delay due to traffic congestion. The Laird and east of Laird area will be an active construction site for some time, so we need to get firm commitments about bus frequency, and clear details of turning movements and actual on-street connections to the Eglinton LRT, but over all this is very positive news. By the way, more good transit news: the South Leaside Route 28, which connects the Evergreen Brickworks to Davisville subway station via Bayview Avenue, will continue to operate, providing an important service connection for South Leaside residents.

Leaside Traffic Management Plan update In my Leaside Life column next month I hope to be able to report more information about the Leaside Traffic Management Plan (TMP). The LRA has been working with the Lawrence Park residents’ association to arrange a joint meeting with City Traffic staff. Both communities are subjects of a TMP and are equally eager to increase safety on our roads (as well as reduce flow-through traffic volume). As of the time of writing, our first meeting is scheduled for mid-August. We want to discuss how our communities over all (as well as neighbours on individual streets) can contribute to local solutions, and how projects will get approval and funding. Next meeting Our next meeting is on Wed., Aug. 4th, via Zoom. You are welcome to attend any of the LRA’s monthly board meetings, which take place on the first Wednesday of each month. If you’d like to watch or participate, let us know by Aug. 4th so we can send you the Zoom access details. Visit us at www.leasideresidents.ca. n



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school life. He also received the STEM, business and history awards. The energetic Sameer was involved in the Junior Achievement program, earned a bronze medallion and cross in lifesaving and volunteered at a summer camp. Isabella Sabatini is a fencer who was grateful for the many weeks of online learning this year as she spent much of that time Isabella travelling with the Canadian Women’s Foil National Team as a training partner to help them prepare for the Tokyo Olympics. While she started fencing at the age of 8, Isabella became more seriously involved when she moved to Leaside in Grade 11 and has participated in Canadian and international competitions, winning national and provincial medals, and is part of the Canadian Women’s Foil Next Generation program. She has also volunteered as a coach, mentor and presenter at different fencing clubs. As she says, “Fencing has taken me around the world, taught me strength, perseverance and life skills.” With a 95% average, Isabella will be attending the University of Calgary for kinesiology and working with both her fencing and strength and conditioning coaches, who are based in Calgary. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Isabella is considering a career in physiotherapy or medicine. She plans to continue training and hopes to compete at the Olympics herself one day. Tara Sarkhosh, with a 96% average, also received the Principal’s Entrance Scholarship to Queen’s where she will take health sciences to pursue her goal of becoming a craniofacial plastic surgeon. This goal was inspired by her co-op placement at Sunnybrook’s Plastic Surgery Clinic where she shadowed the clinical nurse, prepared patient files Tara and was one of the first students to observe surgical procedures. In addition to working in hospitals, Tara would also like to be a travelling doctor to help regions in need and open her own clinic one day. Tara was the co-president of the

GARDEN From Page 3 peer tutoring committee which helped to organize online tutoring sessions and was president of a club devoted to health science competitions. She was president of the yearbook committee, which managed to produce an actual, rather than virtual, book in record time, and the MVP for her softball team. As if all this weren’t enough, she served as a camp counsellor and math tutor and volunteered as a skating instructor at Leaside Arena. With all of these accomplishments, it is not surprising that Tara received the Canadian Federation of University Women Leaside-East York Award for outstanding academic achievement, involvement in student activities and community service. These exceptional students all expressed their appreciation for the school’s welcoming atmosphere and its academic standards, the caring teachers with their passion for engaging students in meaningful ways, and their supportive peers. Congratulations to them on their achievements and best of luck for their future endeavours! n

During a strategic planning session, we looked at what is good about the club and what needs to change. We recognized that we need to improve our social media presence and we also need a website. Just recently, our non-profit has been accepted by a Toronto educational institution for use in a student project to develop that very website for us. Hopefully, it will be up and running later this year. Do you think the pandemic changed our gardening? The pandemic has given us a wonderful opportunity to learn new things. I grew vegetables (something I haven’t done in a long time), and my plantings are now native plants that have food value and draw in wildlife. I enjoyed a summer watching butterflies and birds attracted to the seeds, grasping stems and eating off all the petals of a plant, and I didn’t mind! Find out more about Milne House: email milnehouse777@gmail.com or contact membership director Ann Steffener at admsteffener@rogers. com. Visit leasidelife.com to read the extended version of this article along with more questions and answers! n

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Leaside Life • August 2021

GRADUATES From Page 12

Community Environment Days

Leaside Life • August 2021


Lynda Gorges Broker

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This year, the City of Toronto will be hosting 14 drive-thru Environment Days at drop-off depots across Toronto in September and October. While I know many Leasiders were looking forward to the local community environment days typically hosted by my office in Ward 15 – Don Valley West, these events still provide an opportunity to properly dispose of a variety of household items, including clothing, small appliances, and electronics. You can also safely dispose of household hazardous waste, pick up free compost, and bring books, sports equipment, and clothing for donation. If you’re interested in attending one of these events, the two closest to Leaside are: • Sun., Sept. 12 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bermondsey Transfer Station (188 Bermondsey Rd.) • Sun., Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bermondsey Transfer Station (188 Bermondsey Rd.) You can find the full 2021 Environment Day event schedule and a list of items that will be accepted at www.toronto.ca/ community-environment-days.


Jaye Robinson

Councillor, Ward 15, Don Valley West

Get vaccinated! Getting vaccinated remains one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19. The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to the things we love. For more information on how to get your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www. toronto.ca/covid-19. n

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