Huricane Juan
Toronto Star
  • City of Toronto investigating removal of trees on North York property

    The “clear cut” of about 30 trees, including a towering 150-year-old Linden, from a controversial development site on leafy Bayview Ave. has enraged neighbours and the local city councillor.

    City staff are investigating and say no permit was issued to remove trees on lots at 103 and 108 Bayview Ridge across from the Canadian Film Centre, south of York Mills Rd.

    “Obviously it’s devastating for the neighbourhood,” said Councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25 Don Valley West). “It’s really deplorable. I’ve had phone calls from people in tears.”

    Robinson described the lot as having been “clear cut.”

    The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approved townhouses and detached homes on the lots, each previously with a single-family home, at the north and south corners of Bayview Ridge at the intersection with busy Bayview Ave.

    Approval from the provincial appeal body came after neighbours objected to an application to the city for an official plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment to allow something other than single-family homes.

    Philip Russel, who lives next to one of the lots, said neighbours were shocked to discover the heavily treed lots cleared down to mud, trunks strewn about including a massive Linden — a flowering tree favoured by bees.

    “They're screwing up the planning process, they're making a farce of the work we’ve been doing for a year,” working with Robinson and others to find a compromise, Russel said. “It’s very sad.”

    City reports on the redevelopment applications list M Behar Planning and Design Inc. as the contact.

    Behar told the Star he had nothing to do with tree removal and to contact Ali Mohtashami of Pegah Construction Ltd. Mohtashami didn’t respond to a request for comment on this article Wednesday.

    Arthur Beauregard, Toronto’s manager of urban forestry tree protection, said in an email that the city “is actively investigating potential tree bylaw contraventions at this site.”

    “The process for anyone or any company where tree bylaw-regulated street trees, or private trees, are involved, is to apply for and obtain a permit prior to tree removal.”

    Beauregard said the city would not release further details.

    Penalties for illegal removal under Toronto’s tree bylaw are a minimum of $500 per tree, and a maximum of $100,000 per tree. There is also provision for a rarely applied “special fine” of $100,000.

    Robinson said she hopes that the city cracks down on illegal tree removal. The fact that it happens despite regulation suggests fines need to be higher, she said, so “they are not just a line item in a developers’ budget.”

    There are several other townhouse applications pending for Bayview Ave., Robinson added, criticizing the OMB for approving such developments.

    “It’s completely transforming the area,” Robinson said of developers snapping up lots. “A lot of houses are empty or for sale. What was once a very beautiful vibrant neighbourhood is becoming a ghost town.”

  • Obama tasked with getting Democrats to work together

    After days of jeering from “Bernie-or-Bust” supporters, it remains to be seen whether U.S. President Barack Obama can unite the Democratic Party to back his one-time rival Hillary Clinton.

    The president will be the keynote speaker Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention, where he is expected to speak on the importance of “working together.”

    He will be joined by current Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine. Both Biden and Obama have a not-so-rosy history with Clinton, who ran against Obama during a bitter 2008 primary race.


    • Speakers will include Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama

    • Two noted republicans, Michael Bloomberg and rnold Schwarzenegger are expected to speak.

    • Schwarzenegger, who is currently hosting Celebrity Apprentice, won’t be endorsing Clinton. Instead, he’ll be appearing in a video about climate change.

    Early speakers:

    Early speakers included Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who will retire in 2016. In his speech, which earned cheers of “Harry! Harry!” from the audience, Reid slammed the party that selected “con man” Trump as its candidate.

    “I’ve never seen anything more craven than Mitch McConnell and what he has done to our democracy. His Republican Party decided that the answer to hard-working Americans’ dreams is to slander our African-American president, strike fear of Muslims, sow hatred of Latinos, insult Asians and, of course, wage war against women,” he said.

    “In other words, the only thing Republicans like Mitch McConnell have accomplished is setting the stage for a hateful con man, Donald Trump.”

    Many of the speakers during Wednesday’s program came from key swing states, such as Reid from Nevada, California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and NYC mayor Bill de Blasio.

    Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, who served two-terms as a Republican before becoming an independent, is also speaking. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in a video about climate change, but is not expected to endorse Clinton.

    During Clinton’s race against Bernie Sanders, Biden, who once had presidential ambitions of his own, kept a neutral stance. After Obama endorsed his former secretary of state in June, Biden gave Clinton a backhanded endorsement during a speech on the future of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    “Anybody who thinks that whoever the next president is, and God willing, in my view it will be Secretary Clinton,” Biden said during the speech.

    As WikiLeaks posted hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee containing evidence the party apparatus favoured Clinton over Sanders, “Bernie-or-Bust” supporters have been spoiling for a fight, booing during Clinton endorsements and staging protests.

    U.S. officials say Russia was behind the hack, with Clinton’s campaign proposing that Putin was trying to interfere in the American election to benefit Donald Trump.

    On Wednesday, Trump suggested that Russian hackers should try to find the 30,000 missing emails from her private server.

    “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.

    With files from The Associated Press

  • Why does Toronto?s east end hate everything?

    Over the years, residents in the east end neighbourhoods of Leslieville and the Beach have complained about everything from breweries to music festivals and even a mysterious hum only some can hear.

    But the region’s latest grievance – that toddlers playing in a park are too loud – has some wondering whether the east end doth protest too much.

    “NIMBYism at its worst. This is why the Beach has such a bad rep in the city,” wrote one member of The Beaches Facebook group. “Give me a break, get a life. Let kids be kids,” wrote another.

    “It’s probably just our demographic here,” said Beach Village BIA director Jessica Wright. “We’re bringing in some younger people but at this point it’s still a little bit of an older crowd.

    “They’re used to kind of a sleepy neighbourhood a little bit.”

    Local councillor Gary Crawford said recent complaints about a children’s sports program in Lynndale Parkette — in the Upper Beaches along the border with Scarborough — were related more to safety than noise; people were worried about the number of cars coming onto the quiet street.

    “I’m hoping that there’s no NIMBYism here,” Crawford said.

    Liz Rykert, co-founder of Shape My City, understands the frustration that noisy new businesses or music festivals can bring, but said neighbours in residential areas such as the Beach and Leslieville need to work together to find solutions.

    “There’s so many things going on in Toronto that people are sometimes like, ‘Enough already. I just want to sit on my porch and have a quiet evening’,” she said.

    Things Leslieville and the Beach have complained about:


    Neighbours of Left Field Brewery worked themselves into a froth in 2015 over the sound of chatter and laughter coming from its customers.


    Toronto’s popular Afrofest music festival was threatened with having its two-day permit curtailed after residents near Woodbine Park complained about the noise last year.

    Food trucks

    In 2013, food trucks stationed in Woodbine Park as part of a city-led pilot project were driven out after residents complained about noise and exhaust fumes.

    The homeless

    The news that an 80-bed homeless shelter was planned for Leslie Street north of Eastern Avenue prompted a flood of concerns from residents concerned about crime and property values.


    Ryerson University turfed plans to upgrade the soccer field at St. Patrick High School in June, after an outcry from residents worried it would cause traffic jams.

    A mysterious ‘hum’

    According to some residents, there’s a maddening, low-frequency hum that’s always present in Leslieville. Its existence has not been proven, some east enders have reported hearing it constantly for months and even years.

Arts & Letters
Sunday, 12 August 2007