Leaside Residents Association:

Early May update

1. Infrastructure changes?

The LRA wrote to the Mayor and Council on Sunday, April 26, advocating making more space available for pedestrian and cycling use, both during and beyond current COVID-19 circumstances.

In particular, the LRA cited Eglinton Avenue between Bayview Avenue and Laird Drive as a stretch of road where automobile speeds urgently need to be reduced in order to enhance safety for everyone who uses or crosses Eglinton.

The Mayor's office responded on Tuesday, April 28, regarding recent measures taken citywide and, with respect to lane closures, stated as follows:

The advice the Mayor continues to receive from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is that full road closures or multi-block lane closures at this time should not be contemplated. She believes the City has to be focused during this key time on encouraging people to stay home as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Notwithstanding this response, the LRA will continue to work for traffic calming efforts throughout Leaside, as well as measures to promote active forms of transportation such as walking and cycling. In the event that you write to any municipal officials about such issues, please copy the LRA ( so that we can be informed in order to enhance community-wide advocacy.

For reference, please see the LRA website for the full text of the letter and the response from the Mayor's office. The first few streets that the City intends to reallocate for pedestrian use, as part of its CurbTO initiative, are listed in this Toronto Star article.

2. Jane's Walk

On the first weekend of May, people around the world are encouraged to participate in Jane's Walks. These are free local walks named after urbanist Jane Jacobs, with the aim of enabling people to share stories, to learn about their communities, and to connect with neighbours. (For more information about Jane Jacobs, please check out the TVO documentary.)

Due to COVID-19, there are no organized Jane's Walks this year: a provincial order prohibits an "organized public event" or a "social gathering" of more than five people, with limited exceptions (e.g. a household with six or more people).

However, you can still conduct a self-guided walking tour! LRA Co-President Geoff Kettel has put together a Jane's Walk for the west-central part of Leaside. The introductory article and the map for this walk are available in the May 2020 issue of Leaside Life, page 6. Stop-by-stop historical notes for the walk are available on the Leaside Life website and also on the LRA website.

Map of walking tour of West-Central Leaside. Image reproduced with thanks to Leaside Life (May 2020).
Map of walking tour of west-central Leaside. Image first published in Leaside Life (May 2020).

3. Leaside history moment: Northlea school

Did you know that Northlea Elementary and Middle School opened in 1944?

Below are two photos from the collection of a parent during the school's early years. The late Elizabeth ("Betty") Duck was an original 1946 homeowner on Divadale Drive, and these photos feature - and are shared with the support of - her daughter, Mary Jane Backer. Thank you to her and also to neighbour Kelly Nicol for making these photos available to a wider audience. Higher-resolution versions are available on the LRA website or by clicking on the images below.

Do you have Leaside-related photos that you'd like to share? Please email us for more information.

Northlea school class photo (1955). From the collection of Elizabeth ("Betty") Duck, c/o Mary Jane Backer and Kelly Nicol.
Northlea Grade 8 graduation (c. 1960). From the collection of Elizabeth ("Betty") Duck, c/o Mary Jane Backer and Kelly Nicol.
Northlea Grade 8 graduation (c. 1960). From the collection of Elizabeth ("Betty") Duck, c/o Mary Jane Backer and Kelly Nicol.

4. COVID-19 and benches

If you need to take a break, you may be curious whether you risk getting a ticket by sitting on a bench, given recent controversy.

A provincial order states that "no person shall ... use an outdoor recreational amenity" and lists "all outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in park and recreational areas" as examples of such amenities. The prohibition applies to publicly and privately owned amenities, and applies "regardless of whether they are attached to a park system".

The order appears to contemplate some exemptions:

  1. A bench is off-limits if it is "intended for use by more than one family". This would seem to allow a person to use a bench on their own porch or balcony, for example.
  2. The prohibition appears to apply only to benches that are outdoors.
  3. Use of a bench is allowed for "a maintenance, safety, law enforcement or other similar purpose".
The exact wording of the order may also be open to various possible interpretations. Does the prohibition apply to:
  • Outdoor benches;
  • Outdoor picnic benches;
  • Outdoor benches in park and recreational areas; or
  • Outdoor picnic benches in park and recreational areas?
Given the above, the City has recently clarified its intended enforcement approach in relation to park benches:
  • "The focus of enforcement has now shifted away from issuing charges to individuals solely for the use of park benches as a place for temporary respite. The focus in relation to the use of park benches will be on individuals who are not in compliance with the prohibitions on social and public gatherings, and who do not practise physical distancing while using park benches."

As a reminder, the prohibitions on social and public gatherings are set out in a provincial order, while the requirement for physical distancing in parks and public squares is set out in a municipal order.

The City notes that this is not an encouragement to use benches:

  • "Benches are not destinations where people should begin to congregate. Benches are not sanitized. People may unknowingly spread the virus by sneezing or touching the bench when the next person comes along, sits down and touches the bench."

In short, the City appears to be indicating that it will exercise some element of discretion in determining which bench-users to charge for allegedly violating the provincial order. It will focus more on people using benches for recreational purposes, while focusing less on people using benches for temporary non-recreational purposes (e.g. respite, breastfeeding).

Note: The above information is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.

5. Other notes


Several readers have written to us expressing concern about litter, particularly in parks and other public spaces. The LRA shares these concerns.

Due to COVID-19, the City cancelled its annual Community Cleanup Days and discourages people from handling items on the ground in Toronto's parks and public spaces or organizing community cleanup events of their own.

Notwithstanding the above, the City recently announced that it will soon conduct a "targeted spring cleanup". Leasiders are encouraged to report litter hotspots directly to 311, which is available 24/7 by telephone (311) and email ( Please feel free to copy the LRA if you are reporting a litter hotspot in Leaside (

Blood donor clinic

Please note the Northlea spring blood donor clinic (May 5) is cancelled, but the fall clinic is expected to proceed in October with a date yet to be determined. If you would like to donate now, Canadian Blood Services regular clinics in Toronto are still operating. Check the website at


The Toronto Public Space Committee recently raised a query about the legality of four billboards located on the northwest corner of Laird Drive and Parklea Boulevard.

Toronto's sign by-law regulates the erection and display of most billboards in the city. Most "third party signs" (e.g. a sign for a product that is unrelated to the sign's location, which includes most advertisements) require a permit. However, signs that were "lawfully erected or displayed" at the time of the by-law (2010) are grandparented, as long as they are "not substantially altered".

The LRA has looked into this issue. The billboards are located on a small strip of  land in a residential zone, rather than the City's road allowance. In searching the Toronto Archives, we came across the photo below, which shows billboards in this location in 1956. The question is therefore whether the billboards were lawfully erected in the first place.

Aside from the billboards, and after checking out the property, the LRA has concerns about certain maintenance standards relating to the property, as well as any potential use of the land to store machinery and equipment relating to construction of the Crosstown line. The LRA is following up.

Photo of Eglinton Ave E looking westward across Laird Dr (1956). C/o City of Toronto Archives.
Photo (1956) of Eglinton Avenue East, running from foreground to upper-right, looking southwest to Laird Drive, prior to Eglinton Avenue widening. C/o City of Toronto Archives.

6. Membership matters

Annual memberships

Please support your residents' association with the purchase of an annual membership. You can go to our website and click "Join the LRA" on the right-hand side. Alternatively, you can complete a paper form and mail it to us with a cheque. Annual membership is $30 (+$1 for online payment fee).

Email subscription

If you've been forwarded this email, please click here to subscribe. It's free. We usually send one email per month or two, though in response to reader feedback, it's more frequent during COVID-19. You can check out past emails here.

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