Monthly Archives: May 2010

Vacant shops on Yonge strip

Businesses find it hard to survive in Midtown
High rents, aggressive parking enforcement, few shoppers
(Written for Town Crier April 27/09)

Town Crier and Vaughan Today colleagues at the OCNA awards. Kris Scheuer in the centre with glasses, dark hair and black dress.

I wrote this story a year ago, but tonight, it was up for the Best Business & Finance Story category at the Ontario Community Newspaper Association awards ceremony. I didn’t win. I came third out of the 67 or 68 entries in that category. But it was a fun night with some Town Crier colleagues and a chance to catch up with my two favourite Humber College journalism professors Terri Arnott and Carey French.

Now here’s the story I wrote…

Clifford Wong closed his Yonge Street clothing store Basique Attitude. He was not the only struggling shop.Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

By Kris Scheuer
By the time you read this Clifford Wong will have closed up his Yonge St. clothing shop Basique Attitude.
He’s not alone. A visit on Yonge between Eglinton and Lawrence Aves. on April 22 reveals about dozen vacant shops along this busy North Toronto strip.
“I’ve been here 16 months. It’s hard to survive,” says Wong just days before his shop was to close for good on April 25. “I love this area, but it’s very difficult to survive.”
He’s had three stores in Richmond Hill for 15 years, but says it costs $7,000 monthly for commercial rent and property taxes in Toronto for his store at 2581 Yonge St. He also mentions street parking enforcement that acts as a deterrent for shoppers.
“People are scared to park here,” he says.
The Uptown Yonge Business Improvement Area’s members have noticed the same problems.

Continue reading

Bell cancels North York cell tower

Plans for backyard cell tower abandoned
But Bell looks for new site in the surrounding area
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier May 6.)

L-R: William Marlatt, wife Lee, 1-year-old son and neighbour Wilfred McOstrich want proposed cell phone tower moved. Photo by Francis Crescia.

William Marlatt is pleased Bell Canada has abandoned plans for a 40-metre high cell phone tower steps from his infant son’s bedroom.
Marlatt, who with neighbour Wilfred McOstrich started what they call the Anti-Bell Coalition, gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition and encouraged residents to fight the proposal.
Bell had planned to erect cell phone tower at 4800 Leslie St., but has since backed down.
“It appears Bell has gone back to the drawing board,” Marlatt said May 3. “I am elated and grateful for all the neighbours who wrote emails and correspondence to various levels of government.” Continue reading

Sophia condos now seniors housing

North York project changed to affordable apartments
Patricia and Bathurst site should see action this summer
By Kris Scheuer
(Written May 6 for Town Crier.)

The Sophia Condos project has changed to a seniors affordable housing complex. Photo by Karolyn Coorsh/Town Crier.

A once controversial plan to build luxury condos at Patricia Avenue and Bathurst Street has now morphed into a project of a different kind: A 237-unit affordable housing rental highrise apartment building.
Several years ago, developers Cityzen planned to construct 240 condos in a 10-storey building described as being luxurious enough to rival the finest European hotels with a fully equipped gym, steam rooms, a party lounge and full catering kitchen.
At the time, many residents on Patricia protested the project, which they feared would bring congestion and traffic problems to North York street.
Multiple calls to Cityzen were not returned, but their lawyer Adam Brown confirmed the new project is moving forward under the previous approvals, but with some changes. Continue reading

Roy Macdonald Ward 16 candidate

Macdonald concerned about traffic and crime
First-time candidate wants to see better city services
By Kris Scheuer
(Written May 7 for Town Crier.)

Teacher Roy Macdonald's running for ward 16 council seat. Photo courtesy of Roy Macdonald.

Teacher and coach Roy Macdonald is seeking to unseat Eglinton-Lawrence Councillor Karen Stintz in Ward 16.
“I don’t see it being a stretch going from teaching to politics,” said  the 42-year-old, first time candidate. “I’m pretty good at bringing people from different personalities together.”
Macdonald’s worked as school liaison worker with students at Lord Dufferin School supporting kids both academically and emotionally. Many of the students lived in shelters or came from problem homes. He’s taught in communities from Jane and Finch to Lawrence Park.
In his spare time he coaches children’s hockey four times a week in the winter, hardball/softball in the community in the spring and soccer and baseball at school.
“I like to be a busy person,” said Macdonald, who lives in the ward. Continue reading

Terry Mills Ward 16 candidate

Midtown resident, planner runs for council seat
Eglinton-Lawrence candidate wants more consultation on planning issues
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier May 7)

Terry Mills is running in Ward 16. Photo courtesy of Terry Mills.

Ward 16 council candidate Terry Mills isn’t shy about his disappointment that Riocan’s redeveloping the open space at Yonge and Eglinton.
But that is not the only reason he’s running against incumbent Karen Stinz who supported the plan to build over the space.
Mills said he’d like to see better city planning that includes community input on a local vision for neighbourhoods far in advance of any development applications.
Mills, a professional planner with architectural training, has been involved in local residents associations and city planning for decades.
“I worked on the guidelines in 2003 for the TTC lands across the street,” he said referring to the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton. “That (plan) got passed this spring,” Continue reading

Peter Youngren Ward 34 candidate

Activist, minister, now a first time Toronto council candidate
Local resident has track record of taking action to help people
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier May 3.)

Peter Youngren running in Ward 34. Photo courtesy of Peter Youngren.

Don Valley East resident Peter Karl Youngren is the kind of person who takes action when he sees a problem.
He’s volunteered in refugee camps, started a non-denominational church and founded a charity to help at risk youth.
Now the Victoria Village resident is running for council in Ward 34.
“I live here. I work here. I love it here,” he said.
He’d like to see more leadership to solve local and city problems including the disappearance of a local resident.

Continue reading

Arlington school could close

Committee targets Arlington middle school for closure
Five local schools to become four if board approves recommendation
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier April 28.)

Arlington Middle School is recommended for closure.

Five local schools are half empty,  one will close, but which one should it be?
An accommodation review committee report has recommended that Arlington Middle School be shut down while JR Wilcox, Cedarvale, Rawlinson, Humewood elementary schools all expand from grades 6 to 8.
Board staff will make its own recommendations and trustees will vote on this issue at the end of June.
Meanwhile, Arlington school council chair Robin Fraser is pushing everyone to rethink their decision.
“My person opinion, I am little confused about the recommendation because Arlington has the best facility,” said Fraser, who has a son at the school. “It has a larger gym, auditorium, a lunch room, science labs, a music room.”
It’s also right on Cedarvale park with a baseball diamond, soccer and football fields and a ravine, she added.
Her solution is to keep the 1971-built Arlington and close 90-year-old JR Wilcox instead. Continue reading

Oakwood Vaughan community action plan

Local residents creation a plan to improve neighbourhood
West end Toronto vision for Toronto spurs improvements
By Kris Scheuer
(Written April 28 for Town Crier.)

Oakwood residents and council reps have found new ways to engage the community, including hosting movie nights and potluck dinners at Laughlin Park. Photo courtesy of Tamara Massey.

Oakwood Village residents Tamara Massey and Josh Colle see ways to improve the neighbourhood they love.
They’ve put their passion for the community into a plan that could see the once-troubled neighbourhood become a thriving arts district.
Massey and Colle are members of the 5 Points Community Action residential association that’s produced an Envisioning 2010 document with the help of neighbours, local business, police, politicians, charities and service agencies.
Don’t expect this report to sit on the shelf collecting dust – it’s already producing results.
“It’s become a second job on nights and weekends,” said Massey of the action
plan. “When I started this in January 2009 with (councillor) Howard Moscoe
it was an envisioning exercise with maybe 12 people at the meeting.”
Massey and Colle, co-authors of the document, spent a year planning, and
this January 70 people showed up to participate in brainstorming session on
how to improve the neighbourhood. Continue reading

Talbot apartments headed to court

City and residents win at OMB, but developer appeals
Redevelopment of heritage apartments could end up in court
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier April 28.)

Leasiders are celebrating the Ontario Municipal Board’s rejection of a
developer’s plan to tear down the heritage Talbot apartment complex on
Bayview.
However, their victory cries are muted because the site’s owner is seeking
leave to appeal the board’s decision to the Ontario Divisional Court.
Local councillor John Parker is pleased with the board’s rejection of a
redevelopment plan to demolish the apartments and construct an eight-storey
building and 54 townhouses.
“I was pleased with the Ontario Municipal Board result,” he said. “I saw it
as a long shot they’d see latitude for an appeal.”
Before the court rules on anything, a judge or a panel of judges must decide
if there are legal reasons for this appeal, and if so, determine if those
issues are significant enough to warrant an examination of the board ruling,
said Parker, a lawyer by trade. Continue reading

Robert Meynell ward 27 candidate

Meynell running in crowded Toronto Centre-Rosedale race
Author, lecturer, volunteer running for council seat
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier April 28.)

Toronto-Centre Rosedale candidate Robert Meynell. Photo courtesy of Robert Meynell.

North Rosedale resident Robert Meynell thinks Ward 27 is a great place to live and is running for council to ensure it stays that way.
“I love the ward. I grew up here. I have a house here and am raising a family here. With (Councillor) Kyle Rae stepping down, this was a good
opportunity,” said father of three boys.
“It’s an extraordinary place to live,” said Meynell, who works as the government relations associate for the Ontario March of Dimes.
He’s a cyclist and when he was living in Ottawa he served as a director of Citizens for Safe Cycling. But he questions the decision to put bike lanes on Jarvis Street as part of that revitalization.
Bike lanes on Jarvis are not part of the city’s 1999 Bike Plan that’s only 40 percent completed, he said.
“According to that plan … a bike path on Bay is a far greater priority than one on Jarvis in the interests of having a successful bike network,” he said. “Was there an honest need for bike lanes on Jarvis? I don’t think there was because there’s bike lanes on Sherbourne. Or are they using bike lanes as a way to quiet streets?” Continue reading