Thursday, 27 September 2018

TWO YEARS LATER AND STILL NO RESPONSE FROM COUNCILLOR GRIMES' OFFICE!

It is abundantly clear that our municipal representative on city council is not at all interested in anything more than a passing look at our reasonable and well-researched request to review the former "Windows on the Lake" initiative, especially as it relates to what was to have been the first waterfront parkette at the lake end of Fourth Street.  

His staffer's email to us was completely inadequate at addressing any of our points.  It showed a woeful lack of knowledge of or interest in the situation.  The Councillor needs to speak to us directly.

It is a sad thing when your local political representative, residents' only route to accessing city hall, shuts you down and disrespectfully denies any request for a meeting or even responds with any seriousness to emails or phone calls.  It makes a mockery of  any notion that your Councillor represents all their constituents!

So, we are left with a determination to support other Councillor candidates in the upcoming election in the hope that one of them will, once elected, show their constituents some courtesy, listen to them and take a look at this wonderful initiative and, hopefully, implement it.

In the meantime, illegal encroachments at the bottom of Fourth Street will be removed by the community so that public access and views of the lake on public land are maintained and respected and that there is never again any replacement of previous obstructions.
 

Monday, 30 May 2016

AFTER 7 MONTHS OF NO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, ANOTHER REMINDER TO COUNCILLOR GRIMES THAT WE WISH TO HAVE A MEETING WITH HIM - THIS LETTER WAS SIGNED BY 17 RESIDENTS OF FOURTH STREET AND LAKE SHORE DRIVE

May 30th, 2016

Dear Councillor Grimes
(cc'd Mayor John Tory)

It has been almost seven months since we sent you our response to Michelle Telfeyan’s email concerning the waterfront area at the south end of Fourth Street.  We sent it on October 2nd, 2015, and have not yet received any acknowledgement from your office.

The response referred to above, as well as Michelle’s email, are attached to this email.

As you know, a number of residents on Fourth Street have formed a group called Fourth Street WAVE (Waterfront Access and Views for Everyone).  We wish to see a Lake Window parkette established at the foot of our street on the unassumed road allowance as envisaged by the former City of Etobicoke and currently reflected in the City of Toronto’s Official Plan.

We did our research and presented our thoughts in a detailed, thorough and reasoned manner.  We referenced the initiative of the former Etobicoke municipality, the City’s own Official Plan as it relates to green space on the waterfront, the City’s newly adopted policies on the safeguarding of heritage vistas of the lake as well as lake window precedents already in place along the Ward 6 shoreline.  We referenced decades’ long issues of encroachment.  We even referenced your own supportive motion at Community Council to look in to whether road allowances can be transferred for park purposes.  (All of this has been archived on our website http://fourthstreetlakewindow.blogspot.ca/)

Needless to say, we are confused and disappointed that our simple and sincere request for a meeting to discuss with you the points we raise has not yet materialized.
We urge you to take us up on this and, to repeat what we said in our response, we love our street and community and are really excited about the future potential of our own “lake window”. We are heartened by your statements and the vision of the former government and are confident that, by working together, its potential can be eventually realized.

Given how much time has passed without any reply from your office, we expect to have this communication promptly acknowledged and to receive your response within a couple of weeks.

Sincerely,
Fourth Street Wave (Waterfront Access for Everyone)      fourthstreetwave@outlook.com

Thursday, 22 October 2015

NEW ORGANIZATION FORMED TO LOBBY FOR LAKE WINDOW PARK - FIRST COMMUNICATION WITH COUNCILLOR'S OFFICE

A new organization has been recently formed called "Fourth Street WAVE (Waterfront Access and Views for Everyone)" - email address fourthstreetwave@outlook.com

It consists of a number of residents from Fourth Street and the nearby neighbourhood.  Their goals are :
  • to see a Lake Window parkette established at the foot of Fourth Street on the unassumed road allowance as envisaged by the former City of Etobicoke and currently reflected in the City of Toronto’s Official Plan.
  • to eventually see all the lakeside road ends in South Etobicoke turned in to Lake Window parkettes under the management and ownership of the City's Parks Department
Here is the group's recent response to the email from Councillor Grimes' referenced in the previous post. 


October 22nd, 2015

Thank you, Michelle and Councillor Grimes
First, a brief outline of the points covered in this response to you and Councillor Grimes:
On reading your email, our first response was surprise and a bit of confusion due to the inconsistencies that, from our viewpoint, appear in your reply.

You mention Municipal Code, Use of Streets and Sidewalks 743-36, and 743-37” as a reference for your conclusions, but from the outset, the code’s definition of a “boulevard” does not describe the situation at this lake window at all. 

As defined by the above municipal code, a
boulevard is “that part of a public street that is not used, or intended to be used, for vehicle travel by the general public and is situated between the travelled portion of the road and the adjoining property line”.  The extension of Fourth Street south of the guardrail is clearly not a ”travelled portion of the road”.  It is unassumed road allowance and zoned G – green space – and, therefore, definitely not a “boulevard” by official definition.

There is no problem with the owner of 53 Lake Shore Drive encroaching on her own boulevard as defined by the code (see above), just as almost every homeowner in South Etobicoke has historically done.  A long established community norm, if you like, is to install “minor encroachments”, as defined by the code, up to approximately 1 – 1 1/2 metres from the curb.  A close-by example is the entire south side of Morrison Avenue.

You reference a Google Street view that shows that the unassumed and untraveled road allowance is a “natural extension of the yard at 53 Lake Shore Drive”.  It is true that it does abut the owner’s property line but if you are suggesting
that just being next to public land is the measure to be used for defining “a natural extension” to one’s property and, therefore, maintenance rights over it, then every homeowner on the west side of all the waterfront unassumed road allowances in south Etobicoke should probably have the same right - not to mention all those homeowners living next to any park or public land in the City that abuts their own!  Then, what about the unlucky homeowners on the east side of these unassumed road allowances?  Shouldn’t Mr. Zanini, the owner of 51 Lake Shore Drive have the same rights as the owner of 53?  What about the waterfront parkettes already sign-posted and maintained by the city’s Parks department on the waterfront, unassumed road allowances on Lake Crescent, Miles Road and all the others?  Does this same criterion apply to them as well?  Do the owners on the west side take maintenance over from Parks?  As you can see, these inconsistencies can end up appearing a little odd when examined.

A better source of information might have been the City’s own map (www.toronto.ca/.maps  - just enter the address) that clearly shows the “travelled portion” of Fourth Street at this point, the property line and the boulevard of 53 Lake Shore Drive in between them both as defined by the code you reference.  The remainder of the green space south of the guardrail at the bottom of the travelled
portion is shown as zoned G and, coincidentally, labelled as “Prince of Wales Park”, which, of course is what residents on Fourth Street eventually want – for this public Lake Window to become a park in every sense of the word!

Another seeming contradiction contained in your email, whose header indicates that it comes from Councillor Grimes’ office, is that the councillor himself has also expressed the same point of view as us – that these lake windows become parks.  On September 11th, 2012, he brought up a motion that was considered by Etobicoke York Community Council on September 11, 2012 and adopted without amendment.  The agenda item can be viewed here … http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2012.EY18.53

His letter of support that accompanied his motion can be seen here ….  http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/ey/bgrd/backgroundfile-49808.pdf 

In that letter he mentions that views of the waterfront are being encumbered with encroachments at these lake windows and asks staff to review the situation.  He asks for “the review to consider if these road allowances can be transferred to Parks, Forestry and Recreation Services for public park purposes”.  To our knowledge, that requested staff report has not yet been filed, but the councillor’s welcome intention is very clear.  (Please follow up on this and let us know how that request has progressed since its adoption).

Further to Councillor Grimes’ letter, it is interesting to note that the owner of 53 Lake Shore Drive in 1993 was ordered by the City of Etobicoke to remove a fence that substantially encroached on the lake window. Afterwards, the owner planted thick shrubs in exactly the same spot to replace the fence. Here is a photograph of the shrub barrier that replaced the fence.

Both fence and shrubs at this location have created serious barriers to lake views and public access for decades.  Given the councillor’s position, it would
seem illogical that, based on history, this same owner be allowed sole maintenance rights over this spot which, as stated above, is not even her boulevard by definition. Yet “history” is presented as a line of reasoning in your email.

That also begs a question – what exactly is the official process for considering encroachments?  Do they not require an official public, appealable process with fees etc.?  Has anything like that ever happened?  Although, all of that is probably a moot point given that Don Pardoe, Supervisor, Etobicoke East York Traffic Planning/Right-of-Way, has told Fourth Street residents in the past that legal encroachment or squatter’s rights on unassumed road allowances are and have never been granted.

If the past has taught us anything, it is that, if the community as a whole is not involved with stewardship of these special areas, unchecked, individual homeowners can create encroachments that exclude the rest of the community from visual and physical access to the lake and unfairly and arbitrarily increase their own sense of personal, usable “property”.

History also tells us that Fourth Street was to become the first Lake Window parkette under the City of Etobicoke’s pre-amalgamation “Windows on the Lake” initiative – again, referenced by the councillor in his support letter (see drawing of proposed park at Fourth Street).  It is interesting to note the similarities of viewpoint between our
current councillor and Peter Milczyn from our previous administration, now our MPP, who championed the initiative back then before amalgamation.
As proud Etobicoke waterfront residents, we are very encouraged to note that our former City’s visionary proposal for public, lakeside green space referenced above is mirrored in Toronto’s own Official Plan under “2.3.2 Green Space and Waterfront” policies (see inset showing part of page 5).

The City’s and the Councillor’s position is also very encouraging to us given that his concerns
about “the public view of the waterfront … being adversely affected”,  as stated in his aforementioned support letter to community council, references the recent amendments to the City’s Official Plan’s “Policies, Heritage Landscape Policies, Vista and View Corridors”.


As you are probably aware, on April 3rd, 2013, City Council, which included Councillor Grimes’ vote, adopted the Heritage Policy revisions to the Official Plan.  They included the heritage designation of some local views of Lake Ontario. This now becomes official City policy and the views on the list below are placed on the Heritage Register in the Official Plan.  Below is an extract ….



Views of Lake Ontario (and where those views originate) are as follows …….

o   Norris Cres from Lake Shore Blvd W,

o   Miles Rd from Lake Shore Blvd W,

o   Lake Cres from Islandview Blvd,

o   Royal York Rd from Sussex Dr,

o   Sand Beach Rd from Lake Shore Blvd W,

o   Second St from just north of Morrison St,

o   Third St from just south of Morrison St,



o   Fourth St from just north of Lake Shore Dr,



o   Fifth St from Emerald Cres,

o   Sixth St from Emerald Cres,

o   Eleventh St from Emerald Cres,

o   Twelfth St from Lake Shore Dr




Sorry, Michelle, that our response has been somewhat long winded but, as you can see, we saw quite a few puzzling inconsistencies in your reply to Janine and would love to have them cleared up.


We propose a meeting at City Hall in Councillor Grimes’ office so that a few of us can meet with you and, hopefully, the Councillor, to go over the points we have raised here.

In conclusion, we love our street and community and are really excited about the future potential of our own “lake window”.  We are heartened by the Councillor’s statements and the vision of our former government and are confident that, by working together, its potential can be eventually realized.

Regards

Fourth Street WAVE (Waterfront Access and Views for Everyone)