Letters to the Editor for June 2, 2015

Thank you to the strangers who chose to help

I am writing to thank the young man and the woman who was walking with her baby and dog who came to the aid of my 16 year-old daughter who was the victim of a mugging.

Walking home from Malvern CI after hanging with some friends, my daughter walked south on Victoria Park and proceeded west.

She noticed at one point some teen girls walking about a block behind her. They waited until there were no others on the street, approached from behind, pulled her hair and grabbed her phone and backpack. A black car pulled up, which my daughter thought may be help, but the teens jumped in the car and sped away.

My daughter stopped a young man passing by on a bike and he allowed her to use his phone to call home. A woman stopped and called 911. She remained with my daughter until my husband and police arrived.

As a parent you hope this never happens to your child, but knowing there are people who will help is heartwarming. Having grown up in the Beach I am truly appreciative of the kindness bestowed by our neighbours.

I want you to know that my daughter is okay, she is quite shaken up but not injured. Thank you for caring and taking the time to help.

Rhonda Podger

 

Pantry Park lease proposal has fans

We are thrilled that the stage has been set for the City of Toronto and the TDSB to formally enter into a long-term ground lease of Pantry Park. Despite the opposition’s suggestion that Kew Beach School should just continue to maintain the use of Pantry Park as “status quo,” the reality is the school has not been able to use Pantry Park at recess or lunch times.  The school’s current playground is so overcrowded that our youngest students (over 100 kindergarten children) have to stay inside during their one hour lunch break. As school council co-chairs, we see this new agreement as an innovative way for schools and cities to share their green space and parks.

The school does not view Pantry Park as their own personal space but as a place for students to use during the day for their two 15 minute recesses, half hour lunch break, and seasonal sports teams while sharing the parkland and track with neighbours and community members who enjoy using them.  We applaud councillor McMahon and her colleagues, and our school trustee, Sheila Cary-Meagher, for adding conditions to the lease that took into consideration the concerns of the community: the protection of gates that back onto the park, permit fees that are in line with the city’s fee schedules, the removal of the suggested 999-year time line, and an addendum that prevents the TDSB from erecting a new fence around the park.

We are thrilled that our ever-growing school (we are spilling well over capacity) will have the space for our students to play safely while the community maintains these two beautiful parks.

Kew Beach School Council Co-Chairs

Laura Beaune & Shannon Morrison

 

I attended the public forum hosted at Kew Beach Public School to discuss and address concerns surrounding the access which the school is requesting to Pantry Park.

I sought to keep an open mind with regards to the rather emotive debate, seeking to hear all perspectives and make an informed impression.

There is no doubt Kew Beach requires additional space for the safety and well-being of the children which attend the school. This should be our community’s primary priority. No school can double in size and expect to provide the same level of comfort and space to its teachers and students. At certain times of the day certain children are required to remain indoors while other older children use the playground. This is not beneficial for the children concerned, nor the well-being of the teachers.

During the meeting a number of participants confirmed that Kew Beach is the reason why many people have relocated to the Beach. Indeed, the relocation of families to our community has positively impacted on all property prices, including those properties that surround Pantry Park.

Accordingly, does it not make sense to provide access for the children to the park in order to sustain the reputation of the school, and as a result increase the demand for properties in our community? Property price escalations are not only defined by one’s own property and the surrounding properties, but also by the culture within a community, social amenities, shopping, entertainment, parks, and schools.

The requirements in the proposal document presented to Toronto city council clearly confirm that no fences or structures will be erected in the park and that the surrounding residents will retain access to the park. The limited periods of use by the school would limit the sound generated from the play area. Permits would still be issued for use of the facility, retaining the status quo. The park will remain as a public park, shared with the school.

We as residents of the Beach should be careful not to be too myopic and short-sited in our vision.

If we are to retain our status as a sought after residential location and attract young families who actively support local entertainment and retail outlets, we should be encouraging this initiative, not emotively trying to prevent access from being granted. Over the longer term a less attractive school will result in lower property values and the erosion of local businesses and retail outlets.

I confirm my complete support for this worthy initiative. After all, it is ultimately about improving the lives of children and over the longer term benefitting our community – or have we perhaps lost sight of that?

Michael King

 

Pantry Park deal raises questions for parents of French students

Re: 999-year lease needs transparency – In my Opinion, May 19, 2015, and Francophones seek new school, Feb. 23, 2015

Columnist Martin Gladstone may have uncovered some reasons why an East End group, the Coalition of Parents for a Local French Secondary School, are having such a difficult time acquiring space for a French secondary school in one of the under-used East End TDSB schools. If Mr. Gladstone’s allegations regarding the TDSB have any validity – that the TDSB is more interested in selling off public school properties for lucrative housing developments than providing surplus space to the French Public Board, Viamonde, for an east end French Secondary school – then these allegations may be one reason the coalition is getting nowhere as they try to satisfy their Canadian children’s constitutional rights to receive instruction in French.

My two francophone granddaughters graduated from local Georges-Étienne-Cartier, a French Catholic elementary school, and are now attending Collège français (a school with no cafeteria, music room or schoolyard) in downtown Toronto, which requires a daily TTC commute out of their neighbourhood. They and their parents and a growing number of east end Francophone families just want their own neighbourhood French language secondary school, which they are entitled to. They are not asking for TDSB- or city-owned green space to be built upon. They just want the TDSB to turn over classrooms to the French board, where available space has been identified by the TDSB in an East End school.

Why does it appear that the French public school board is being stonewalled by the TDSB? Why is the TDSB, as Mr. Gladstone seems to imply, more interested in doing land deals than contributing to the education of children, be they English or French speaking – language rights guaranteed under Canada’s constitution? What is the TDSB’s priority, making money or educating children?

My granddaughters and I want an answer, before they both graduate outside of their own neighbourhood.

Murray Lumley

Danforth Avenue

 

Bike lanes on Dixon good for everyone

I was intrigued and slightly confused to read the “Resident no fan of bike lanes on Dixon” letter in the May 5 issue.

Although the writer admits cyclists knocked on her door explaining the bike lanes a year in advance, she later claimed no notice was given.

She also stated that although cyclists have been riding the wrong way down this street already (because even this is safer than riding the gauntlet at the Kingston/Eastern/Queen streetcar intersection), she thinks making a clearly defined, signed bike lane instead is unsafe.

Although riding the wrong way down a one-way street may have taught children to break the law in the past, she can be rest assured that making it legal now removes that problem.

On reflection, I came to the conclusion that the author must in fact support this new bike lane. And thankfully, now that she knows that there is a fully legal contra flow bike lane on her street, she CAN expect to be faced with a phalanx of bicycles.

Robert Wallis

Cyclist and resident, Ward 32

 

Queen and Woodbine intersection unsafe

I am a resident of the Beach and I frequently cross at the intersections of Queen and Woodbine.

I am also a mother of two children, ages 5 and 9.

I am always terrified as I wait at any of the four corners of this intersection and I am repeatedly warning my children to “stand back!”

The speeds at which traffic rips through here is ridiculous given the numbers of pedestrians of all ages, especially large numbers of families and  children crossing to get to and from Kew Beach PS.

I have been told that Woodbine is considered a ‘highway’ so there is little that can be done to slow traffic or add another crosswalk between Queen and Lakeshore, where it bends by the Olympic pool (which would, in my opinion, force traffic to slow down).

Thank goodness no one appeared to be hit in the latest incident, but it’s only a matter of time. This last one is not an isolated event.

Stand wayyyyyy back everyone.

Lori Gomes


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3 comments

Laura and Shannon wrote “Despite the opposition’s suggestion that Kew Beach School should just continue to maintain the use of Pantry Park as “status quo,” the reality is the school has not been able to use Pantry Park at recess or lunch times.”

It all depends on what is meant by the “status quo”.

The problem is essentially is the TDSB’s own fence that separates the park from the schoolyard. The Trustee also mentioned a grade change of 2 or 3 feet if the fence were removed. The Trustee also mentioned concerns about the park being maintained to be free of anything like glass.

If TDSB get the lease then they will no doubt they will remove the fence and get some soil to level out the grade. NOTHING is stopping these things from happening without a lease.

TDSB will need to find staff to check the park for glass etc. – again, nothing will prevent that if there is no lease and with the status quo (but remove the fence).

Those of us who are concerned about a lease of 999 years (or even 49 years) have made suggestions like giving the city the right to terminate the lease on 12 months notice. If there is a loophole in the lease or something was not anticipated, the City will be powerless to act

TDSB is selling off schools in Don Mills and elsewhere. The City wants to prevent any loss of open space or parks, but there is little risk of any school at Woodbine Park, but this deal will mean that TDSB can sell of land on Queen beside Kew that is already zoned for…

I was a block away when the most recent accident occurred and I as well, although alarmed but the squeals and large crunch, was not surprised. I went online to see if other accidents had occurred at this intersection and they had, including one in 2009 where a police car was in the collision. As a longtime beacher and a mother of a 9 year old I generally just avoid that intersection if at all possible. Almost EVERY time I am there standing at corner I end up scolding or gesturing to a driver in a rush turning right from Woodbine to Queen or witnessing a possible pedestrian or squealing car, numerous times muttering to myself (that was close!). Do we have to wait for a tragic accident before something is done? I know that it is a heavily trafficked pedestrian area and it is frustrating for drivers as well to have to wait for the many people in the intersection. If there was such a thing is an advanced red (for turning right) or an option where it was “pedestrian only” or “drivers only” a la Bloor/Bay or Dundas/Yonge idea. AS Lori mentioned, if it is considered a highway then all the more reason to exercise safety measures as people are in a constant rush to get to work or get home from work. For now, I either avoid the intersection or am warning people to cross on the north side only and do as Lori says and stand wayyyyyyyyy back.

Woodbine is not considered a Highway – or at least, i tmakes little difference (Yonge Steet used to be highway 11, and Kingston Road was Highway 2, but essentially the province transferred or eliminated this having any meaning).

These and woodbine are “arterial roads” in the city’s heirarchy of streets, and traffic already backs up at various hours of the day. The city can do things like changing the timing of the lights, prohibiting turns on red lights or taking other reasonable measures to make it safer.

I think this will get worse in the future when the TTC moves the westbound Queen streetcar stop to where the Shell Station was… traffic will get worse and drivers will become even more impatient.

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