Beaches-Leslieville Daily Updates: January–February 2021

modular housing thumbnailEast-end community split over homeless housing initiative?

Mayor John Tory announced on Tuesday the city-owned lot at Trenton and Cedarvale avenues in Woodbine Heights would be one of two new sites chosen for the city’s modular housing initiative for those facing homelessness.

He was supported in this by Beaches-East York reps MPP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Coun. Brad Bradford. But the reaction online so far has been mixed, with some neighbours raising fears of safety for kids and seniors in the area. Get the full story.

Tabuns attacks return of higher hydro rates

Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns has criticized the Ontario government for reinstating its standard electricity pricing this week. This is particularly a problem in areas, like Toronto, where stay-at-home orders apply, causing electricity bills to jump while people are still coping with a pandemic, Tabuns said in a statement released by the NDP today.

The step is by the Doug Ford to cancel the discounted rates is “callous,” Tabuns said.

“So many Ontario households and small businesses are doing their best to stay on top of their bills right now, as the pandemic continues to rage and incomes continue to be impacted. They need things to get more affordable, not more expensive.”

Godon's thumbnailGordon’s Pub closed for good

It opened in November 2019, just before the pandemic hit Toronto, but Goprdon’s Pub Kitchen on Queen Street East has already served its last patrons.

An announcement was posted to Gordon’s Instagram page announcing it was closing for good after Jan. 30. See more on this story.

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TTC constable uniforms reported taken

Someone may be walking — or riding — around wearing unauthorized special constable’s uniforms. Police reported yesterday three TTC Special Constable Uniform shirts and the front half of an external ballistic vest carrier were stolen near Woodbine and Danforth avenues on Feb. 18 at about 5 p.m.

The shirts are described as baby blue with TTC Special Constable patches on the shoulders. The front half of the ballistic carrier is black and does not contain any plates, police say.

Duties of TTC Special Constables include preventing crime, enforcing laws and ordering maintenance on the transit system.

memoir thumbnailReview: Poignant memoir of finding and losing family secrets

Leslieville author Sharon Kirsch went looking for buried treasure under the floorboards of her old family home after moving her ailing mother out, but she uncovered prizes of another kind.

She relates what she found in a compelling memoir The Smallest Objective, which came out in the fall. Here’s editor Eric’s review.

gun control graphic thumbnailAs a new season of the gun shapes up….

We need strong gun control to help stop handgun violence that is once again terrorizing Toronto residents — in all parts of the city. And the federal government ban on military-style assault weapons, while welcome, is not nearly enough, Streeter editorial argues.

Read and comment on the editorial.

COVID rates mapBeaches among neighbourhoods with lowest COVID-19 incidence

The Beaches appear to be one of the safest areas in Toronto, judging by the latest figures from the province. The city’s mapping of the COVID rates over a recent three-week period shows the community to have experienced 65 cases per 100,000 population — the second-lowest rate in Toronto.

This contrasts drastically with the worst-hit neighbourhoods with rates of more than 700 cases per 100,000. See the story and how we compare to other central, midtown and east-end areas.

2301 Danforth thumbnailEast-end shooting caps four days of Toronto murders

A shooting in a parking garage on Danforth Avenue has left a 47-year-old man dead. It happened at 2301 Danforth Ave., a recently opened, eight-storey apartment condominium building at Oak Park Avenue, yesterday at about 10:24 p.m.

The east-end death is the fourth shooting homicide in Toronto in four days and the sixth over the past two weeks. Here’s what we know about it so far.

No shinny or large groups on rinks, Bradford warns

Councillor Brad Bradford is warning members of the community not to gather in large groups or play  hockey on outdoor rinks in the area. In a newsletter released today, Bradford mentions Love Crescent in Upper Beaches, Topham Park in northeast East York and Fairmount Park in Beach Hill as rinks where skaters have been ignoring public health guidelines.

“Anyone on the rink should be wearing a mask or face covering, watching their distance, and not playing shinny,” he says in the newsletter. “There is also a capacity limit of 25 on all ice rinks.

Anyone seeing a large gathering or hockey being played on an outdoor rink is advised to call 311.

“I’m pleading with anyone who thinks they don’t have to follow the rules and guidelines, to please think again. We’ve seen this [pandemic] drag on too long and it takes every single one of us playing our part to stop the spread.”

Arija Jansons GoFundMe thumbnailSeveral online campaigns raise thousand for Upper Beaches fire victims

More than $116,000 has been raised in two GoFundMe campaigns to help Arija Jansons who lost her son, mother and close friends in the Gainsborough Road house fire on Jan. 29.

And more has been raised for the families of the fire victims in other online campaigns. See the full story.

Budget consultation with east-end councillors tonight

Councillors Paula Fletcher and Brad Bradford join Toronto’s budget committee chair Gary Crawford for the East End 2021 Budget Consultation today from 7 to 9 p.m.

The meeting is to include a presentation by Stephen Conforti, executive director of financial planning for the city.

Residents of Toronto-Danforth and Beaches-East York wards are invited to join the discussion on Zoom and ask questions.

To take part, register in advance online [link no longer available].

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More COVID cases at grocery store

The Loblaws at 17 Leslie St. near Eastern Avenue has reported its second and third cases of COVID-19 among employees in January. Two team members have tested positive on presumptive tests for COVID-19, the store reported today. The last days the team members worked were recorded as Jan. 19 and 26.

Pedestrian sent to hospital after being struck

A female pedestrian was struck by a vehicle near Victoria Park Avenue and Musgrave Street at about 8:30 a.m. today, police say. The woman, described as being in her 30s, was attended by paramedics and taken to hospital. Her condition is unknown.

The vehicle reportedly remained on the scene. Police temporarily blocked off the streets to investigate.

Victoria and Musgrave is an intersection in Upper Beaches giving access to plazas featuring Loblaws, FreshCo and McDonald’s.

Deadly fire in Beach Hill house

Four people are dead and two more were injured after fire ravaged a house on Gainsborough Rd. early this morning.

The three-alarm blaze destroyed the top floor of a two-storey house near Coxwell Avenue and Eastwood Road and spread to the rooftops of two neighbouring houses.

Here’s the full story.

Alleged diaper thief arrested

For nearly two months from Dec. 1, a man was removing soiled diapers from a green bin beside a home in the Gerrard Street East and Woodbine Avenue area, police charge. This sparked a prowl-by-night investigation, which resulted in an arrest on Jan. 23 of a 40-year-old Toronto man.

He faces charges of prowling by night, criminal harassment and theft. He appeared in court via video the same day.

Another COVID case at a Danforth mart

Loblaw Companies announced today a staff member at the Shoppers Drug Mart, 1630 Danforth Ave., has tested positive on a presumptive test for COVID-19. The last day the employee worked there was Jan. 22, the store says.

COVID cases found at local grocery stores

Food retailers in the east end have recently reported several positive tests for COVID-19 among their staff, including three cases at one location:

  • On Jan. 23 the Loblaws at 17 Leslie St. reported a team member tested positive. The last day the employee worked was recorded as Jan. 19.
  • On Jan. 19 two staff at Davidson’s Valu-mart at Danforth and Woodbine avenues tested positive. The last day they worked was on Jan. 12.
  • On Jan. 18, Metro announced the positive test of an employee at the Food Basics at 1070 Pape Ave., their last day in the store being Jan. 10.
  • The Sobeys at 2451 Danforth Ave. experienced at least three recent COVID cases. The store reported positive tests on Jan. 19, 24 and  25. The employees’ last day worked ranged from Jan. 10 to 16.

‘Missing middle’ housing pilot sought for Beaches-East York

The city’s planning and housing committee is considering a plan to find a city-owned site to develop with what’s called “missing middle” housing, hopefully with a pilot project in Beaches-East York, councillor Brad Bradford says.

“Missing middle” refers to a plan to increase the supply of housing in the middle ranges between expensive single homes and highrise condominiums — adding such housing forms as duplexes, triplexes, townhouses and low-rise apartments.

It would require planning and zoning bylaws to be changed to allow these forms of housing in areas where they had been previously prohibited.

Bradford has been pressing since early last year to bring a missing middle pilot project to Beaches-East York.

Missing middle housing designs
MID-RANGE: Examples of missing middle housing are shown in illustration.

East end drivers chalked up large number of ASE speeding tickets

A total of 4,593 speeding tickets were issued by four photo radar stations in the east end over five months last year, according to city figures released today.

ASE device
TRAFFIC COP: ASE devices issued more than 53,000 speeding tickets over five months last year.

These were all from the first round of automated speed enforcement (ASE) devices located in the Toronto-Danforth and Beaches-East York wards from July 6 to Nov. 30, 2020. The devices, placed mainly near schools, were moved to new locations beginning in late November.

Across Toronto, 50 ASE devices issued 53,090 tickets during the first round, an average of nearly 1,062 per location.

Three of the four east end locations recorded numbers well above that average, with just one far below that average:

  • Chatham Avenue east of Jones Avenue in Toronto-Danforth: 1,634
  • Barrington Avenue north of Secord Avenue in Beaches-East York: 1,547
  • Main Street south of Swanwick Avenue in Beaches-East York: 1,294
  • Morse Street south of Queen Street East in Toronto-Danforth: 118

East end drivers will get a chance to redeem themselves by driving more carefully past the second round of ASE stations, currently located in Toronto-Danforth ward on Dundas Street East east of Broadview Avenue and on Lesmount Avenue south of Cosburn Avenue and in Beaches-East York on Kingston Road near Heyworth Crescent and on Spruce Hill Road north of Queen Street East.

Or you could try just following the speed limits wherever you drive.

Homeless at risk during stay-at-home push, MPP says

The provincially government’s stay-at-home order doesn’t help homeless stay safe, says Beaches—East York MPP Rima Berns-McGown in a statement released today.

The order exempts those without homes, “yet the government is making no real effort to provide them with safe housing options,” Berns-McGown said. “People are being told to stay home to suppress the virus, and merely exempting people without a home from the order cannot keep them safe.”

She called it a “callous move that is bound to contribute to the spread of COVID-19.”

Local libraries open for pickup and drop-off

Branches of the Toronto Public Library will remain open during the lockdown beginning tomorrow — but for pickup and drop-off of library materials only.

Current operational hours are being maintained. A previous communication that branches will close at 8 p.m. were mistaken, the TPL says.

Another COVID case at FreshCo

Sobeys grocery stores have reported another case of COVID-19 at the Freshco franchise at Gerrard St. East and Victoria Park Avenue. The affected employee’s last day worked was Jan. 5, according to Sobeys.

FreshCo reports COVID case

Sobeys grocery stores have reported a case of COVID-19 at its Freshco franchise at 2490 Gerrard St. E. at Victoria Park Avenue. The affected employee’s last day on the job was Jan. 4, according to Sobeys. It’s one of more than 30 cases to be reported to date since Jan. 1 in Ontario at Sobeys, Foodland and Freshco outlets.

Blossoming Minds thumbnailFree emergency child care for essential workers

The east end is home to at least five of the 35 child care programs approved to provide emergency care for the children of essential workers in Toronto communities during the current lockdown of elementary schools.

Families that meet Ontario’s definition of essential workers can apply directly to the approved centres for this free service funded by the province.

Get the full story.