A history of Beach Metro News: 2007 a year of distinction

In January 2007, parishioners of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church prepared to celebrate the church’s centennial by using its resources to serve and protect some of society’s most vulnerable.  After holding a public meeting and advising  neighbours, the church joined the Out of the Cold program, and with over 100 volunteers signed up to help, prepared to open its doors to 12 homeless men and women one night a week from January to March. This became a national news story when a group of Silver Birch neighbours hired a lawyer and threatened the church with an injunction. Over 300 people attended a public meeting on Jan. 16, where politicians, officials from the fire, police and city licensing departments and church representatives tried to assuage local fears. The project went ahead and quietly continues five years later.

Two other local churches with long histories voted to merge their congregations and assets. Bellefair United and Kew Beach United churches became Beach United Church. The Bellefair property at 2000 Queen St. E. was sold and redeveloped as a condominium. Part of the Kew Beach property at 140 Wineva  Ave. has been razed and a new multi-use church is currently under construction.

Throughout the year there were public meetings about proposed developments. These included the properties at 12-14 Wineva Ave.; at 2-4 Neville Park Blvd. and 438-440 Lakefront Lane;  a proposed 71-unit building on the site of the old Legion hall at Woodbine and Kingston;  a 100-unit development at Woodbine and Gerrard; and a 29-unit supportive housing project at 1908 Gerrard St. E. Leslieville residents were fighting a proposed Smart Centre plan for a Walmart.

A $26 million make-over for the Victoria Park subway station was announced, including new bus terminals, making the station fully accessible, and redesigning the pedestrian bridge to Crescent Town.

Following a campaign by Rick Chrisp and Daniel Longshaw, a crosswalk was added at Gerrard and Norwood.

The new Williamson Road footbridge opened on Nov. 24. The previous wooden trestle was in such poor condition that it collapsed just before demolition began. The new bridge was part of a Glen Stewart ravine reclamation project.

Organizers of the 40th Easter Parade, the Beaches Lions, misjudged local sensibilities when they invited Ed the Sock to be a parade marshal. ‘Too raunchy for a community event’ was the verdict of those who complained. Ed the Sock was given the boot and comedians Luba Goy and Craig Lauzon took over.

Thirty eight local ‘Women of Distinction’ were feted at the Balmy Beach Club. “Each in her own way has contributed to our community’s success and health,” said Gene Domagala, who organized a poll to choose the women, and winnowed the list down from 115 nominees.

Fifty women stitched for 30 hours in a quilting marathon, each sewing in three hours shifts. The quilt was auctioned to raise money for a breast cancer survivors program.

Mary Christie was chosen as Beach Citizen of the Year. Her voluntary activities included service as chair of Community Centre 55,  serving on the board of Toronto East General Hospital, 17 years as a Senior Link volunteer, chair of the parent council at Adam Beck School, conveyor for the Canadian Cancer Society, canvasser for the Salvation Army, and she was a long-time member of the City’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee.

Graham Roberston was presented with the Lord Strathcona medal, the highest award a Royal Canadian Army cadet can receive. He was chosen for his training record as a cadet, level of fitness, and recommendation by his superiors. Robertson had recently taken part in a Parliament Hill commemoration of Vimy Ridge, paying his own way to Ottawa to portray a young First World War soldier.

Jake Prokopec tied for first place in the Fibonacci National Math Contest with a perfect score. More than 40,000 students wrote the test. His Grade 5 class at Bowmore Road School was sixth in the nation. He beat his teacher and coach, Sarah Erskin, who scored 39/40.

Katherine Barber, editor of the Oxford Canadian Dictionary and a local reader, revealed that she had included 37 words in the OCD citation file that she had found in Beach Metro News. Two were quoted in the 20-volume historic version of the Oxford English Dictionary. One entry referred to the verb to pitch, meaning adding yeast to wort for the purpose of inducing fermentation. It had appeared in a 1994 advertisement for The Feathers on Kingston Road.  An entry and definition of poll clerk, which appeared in the same year, was also used.

A man whose war medals were stolen from his Beach home 39 years earlier, recovered them.  On a whim, Rod Travers-Griffin, who had become an expert on coins, and military medals, buttons and badges, checked the website of an auction house. “Item 147 was my medals correctly identified with my name and rank engraved,” he said. The medals probably passed through several hands and had been sold as part of an estate sale two weeks earlier for $200. The new owner returned them.

Rudolf Stussi was the unanimous choice from among 35 contenders to paint a mural on the wall of the Beach IGA at Queen and Lee. The local artist was assisted by his son Errol to paint “a playful truncated view of some of the main features of along Queen Street from the Firehall to the waterworks.” The mural was paid for by the Beach BIA and public donations.

Michael Prue was re-elected in Beaches-East York Riding in a provincial election. Prue ran against PC Don Duvall , Liberal Tom Teahen and Caroline Law for the Green Party.

As 2007 ended the TTC announced plans to improve 501 service along Queen Street. The jury is still deliberating whether those plans have been successful.

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