SERRA · VIEWS June 1st, 2017

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South Eglinton group meets to ‘take back our neighbourhood’

SERRA column

“Take back our neighbourhood!”

That was the rallying cry at the SERRA AGM at Greenwood College School on May 8 to reflect the displeasure with massive and unceasing new developments, monster infill homes, traffic congestion with impaired pedestrian safety, noise and dust from constant construction, overloaded schools, lack of community facilities, and aging and overburdened physical infrastructure.

SERRA president Andy Gort, guest speakers Councillor Josh Matlow, City of Toronto and East York community planning director Gregg Lintern all agreed that neighbourhoods both residential and high rise need to be livable, walkable, vibrant and green.

But how do we “Take back our Neighbourhood”?

We support our residents, jointly with City planners and our Councillor, Josh Matlow, in fighting excessively large homes and  towers at tribunals such as the City’s Committee of Adjustment (some 50 times over the last three years and at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) — more than a dozen times. Doing better involves advocating for more and interconnected  green spaces, a healthy tree canopy, and securing our informal neighbourhood pathways (our “Davisville Village Greenways” initiative), creating natural and native gardens to support the environment and integrating our heritage in our planning for growth.

For the longer term it means being an active partner with the City Planning group responsible for delivering a new planning blueprint for our neighbourhood (called Midtown In Focus ) and active participation in the reform of the OMB by voicing our concerns with this highly dysfunctional  tribunal.

Since then, the Ontario provincial government has proposed to make major changes, such as returning control over development to local municipalities and providing financial support for the community when a development case does proceed to the OMB.

Our school trustee, Shelley Laskin, also attended our AGM and, together with the TDSB, has big achievements to be proud of, such as the new Davisville School and an expanded Hodgson school, and our growing area keeps her planning for more.

Fun at AGM

We had a lot of fun at our AGM with 10 information booths explaining the various activities we participate in. Present was city planner Paul Farish, describing the Midtown in Focus initiative, where residents could see the future “blueprint” for our area, reflecting sustainable growth. The Toronto Aviation Noise Group (TANG) shared details of how they advocate for shared flight paths and reduced aviation noise and pollution. Geoff Kettel, co-chair of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, was on hand to discuss OMB reform, and  our attendees also saw displays from Eglinton Crosstown, SERRA’s new Davisville Village Greenways initiative, Tree-SPECT (based on the City of Toronto report “Every Tree Counts”), LEAF (Local Enhancement and appreciation of Forests), our tall tower developments map, important updates on inappropriate infill homes, and developments to support our area heritage.

Last but not least we featured what has become our signature carrot cake and refreshments to keep the 150 plus attendees nourished and excited about returning next year.

The South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SERRA) represents Davisville Village in the area bound by Eglinton Avenue East, Bayview Avenue, Merton Street and Yonge Street.

Lilly McIsaac is Communication Director and Andy Gort is president of SERRA.