Beach Triangle Residents Association: 30 Years of Service

Dec 30th, 2015 | By | Category: Winter 2015

On Wednesday, January 23, 1985, a meeting was held at Corpus Christi Church Pastoral Education Centre, at 16 Lockwood Road to form the Beach Triangle Residents Association. The Chair of the first board of directors was Sandra Jackson. All original directors subsequently moved away except Pat Silver and Brendan Morrissey. Layton Stewart retired from the board last year, after 29 years of service, and David Windrim retired due to illness this year, after 30 years of service.

Commercial and Residential Development
Residents of the Triangle had been complaining about problems with Greenwood (formerly “Woodbine”) Race Track on the south side of Queen from Coxwell to Woodbine. The complaints included noise, litter, drunken horse players who urinated and vomited on people’s lawns, and who gambled that they could get away with parking across driveways rather than pay to park. Another major community concern was about absentee landlords and irresponsible tenants.

In 1987, the BTRA won city approval of by-laws to begin to govern rental housing. This marked the beginning of an interest in the implications of property development and the need for guidelines and controls that continues to the present day, the focus changing from private residential to commercial development on Queen Street East.

The BTRA demanded one-hour parking limits and ‘tag-and-tow’ to deal with racetrack visitors parking on residential streets, and this was approved. With the race track gone, the BTRA supported a neighbourhood initiative in 2008 to bring in three-hour parking, approved in 2009.

BTRA polls confirmed overwhelming resident opposition to the racetrack. In 1989, the Jockey Club cancelled Sunday racing at the track and, in 1994, announced intention to close the track altogether by 1996. This turned BTRA attention to the redevelopment of the property, with full participation in the Part II Official Plan Study through the Working Committee. A poll on the off-track wagering facility on Queen at Eastern Avenue in 2000 confirmed overwhelming opposition, and the BTRA was able to obtain strict conditions on entrance age, on hours for sale of liquor, and prohibition of video lottery terminals.

Also in 1998-2006, the BTRA was critical of the Market Value Assessment program.

Having had minimal effect on the commercial development on the south side of Queen Street in the early 2000’s, in 2008 the BTRA became very active in seeking to minimize the impact of condominium development on the north side. Concerns were expressed about ‘fit’ in the neighbourhood, construction noise and dust, and pressure on transit, utilities, and parking.

Neighbourhood Communications
The newsletter (originally published three to four times a year, now biannual) has been published from 1985 to the present day, with paid neighbourhood advertising added in 1994. A team of volunteers delivers the newsletter to every home, and content is published on the web site. In 2000 an interest in Beach history surfaced, soon followed by regular articles on the history of the Triangle, Triangle homes and notable buildings, and on the Beach area.

Other community initiatives included door-to-door membership drives and flyers in the 1980’s and ’90’s, public meetings, and a web site (2003 to the present day).
Other Triangle Initiatives
In 2004-’05, the BTRA supported Triangle residents in seeking a crosswalk on Woodbine near Columbine but not enough criteria were met for city action. A renewed campaign in 2014, supported by Councillor McMahon, resulted in the crosswalk now in operation.

Support for bike lanes through the Triangle began in 2013 and, with the support of Councillor McMahon, was implemented along Dixon Avenue in 2015.

Association Development and Support
The BTRA supported the establishment and re-establishment of area residents’ associations (David Windrim was especially active in this), and the incorporation of the Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association (GBNA) in 2012, uniting the various residential associations in the area. In 2005, the association joined the Confederation of Regional Ratepayers Associations (CORRA) to participate in Toronto-wide representation of resident interests. The BTRA supported the Beach Lakefront Neighbourhood Association in their successful fight against a development that would have been most incongruent with the beach landscape. Steering Committee and public meetings in 2012 to bring in Urban Design Guidelines (UDG) for Queen Street from Coxwell to Nursewood, strongly supported by Councillor McMahon.

Although the BTRA won some concessions from the developer, including setback of upper floors, the One Rainsford and the 200 Woodbine condominiums don’t fully meet the UDG requirements, and result in the destruction of seven early homes (three of them among the first homes built in the Triangle) and one early retail building at the corner of Woodbine and Queen.

Parks, Transit and Expressways
In 1998 the decision to create a festival area in the new Woodbine Park was strongly questioned, due to the lack of community consultation.

In 1999, the BTRA questioned the wisdom of city council in moving to remove the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway. Beginning in 2010, the association participated in consideration of maintenance or further demolition of the aging Gardiner.

In 2010, the association obtained resident support, resulting in the TTC deciding not to proceed with expansion of rush hour service. In 2011, Chris Blythe focused concern on development of the Leslie Barns to service the new street cars. He persuasively contended that it is the wrong location, and predicted all of the disruption that has since ensued.

Social Events
The first annual Lawn Sale was held on June 1st, 1985, advertised in the Toronto Star, the community newspaper, and by posters along Queen Street. A BTRA table was located at the corner of Lockwood and Dixon, selling hot dogs and cold drinks. This became a major, annual, community event that continued for 23 years. Not only did it enable residents to make their trash into someone else’s treasure, but it was also a social event where residents met or renewed acquaintances. It ended in 2008 when the Lawn Sale for the Cure adopted the same date as the Triangle event and residents began to direct donations to that worthwhile cause rather than to the residents’ association.

The Environment
The BTRA joined other groups in opposing resumption of incineration at Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant, a struggle begun in 1999 and won in 2010.

Participation in the Treatment Plant Neighbourhood Liaison Committee began in 2003. Interest in redevelopment of the waterfront began in 1990, and an in ‘the urban forest’ began in 1994.

In 1998-’99, David Windrim was very active in calling for environmental monitoring of the effect of the new St. John’s Norway crematorium on the neighbourhood air quality. This morphed into strong pressure on governments to monitor overall air quality in our area, and move to control emissions. The environment and waterfront development became a key portfolio for Chris Blythe in 1997 and, in 2004-2008, by Philip Knox. In 2006, the association joined with others in opposing the gas-fired power plant in the Port Lands.

Police Liaison
Participation in the Police Liaison Committee (now “Community Police Liaison Committee”) began in 1994, including support for the Police Week Community Fair in Woodbine Park, and continues to the present day.

Conclusion
Why has the BTRA been so successful over such a long period?

  1. Defining Issues: The seriously negative impacts of the racetrack south of Queen Street and the Greenwood Teletheatre caused residents to band together.
  2. Ongoing Issues: Environmental concerns, including the Treatment Plant, incineration, air quality, public parks, and development issues, became targets for action.
  3. Core Veterans: People who ‘know the ropes’ and care enough to continue to volunteer guaranteed ongoing effectiveness.
  4. New Blood: People with new skills and enthusiasm not only offered fresh and expanded perspective but also pushed the ‘old fogies’ to work harder.

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