Project ex­poses com­mu­nity ten­sion

Cen­tury-old gates in North Toronto to be re­stored

Midtown Post - - News - –– Jes­sica Wei

Thanks to the cam­paign­ing of a lo­cal res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tion and their coun­cil­lor, the gates at the corner of Alexan­dra Boule­vard and Yonge Street that are over a cen­tury old may get a third act. How­ever, the con­ver­sa­tions around restora­tion of these gates have raised un­der­ly­ing ten­sions be­tween lo­cal ward coun­cil­lor Christin Carmichael Greb’s of­fice and the Lyt­ton Park Res­i­dents’ Or­ga­ni­za­tion (LPRO).

The gates were built around 1910. They were, at the time, con­structed of clinker brick, an in­creas­ingly rare type of ir­reg­u­larly shaped and colour­ful brick favoured at that time.

“They’ve been there for­ever, and they’re part of ev­ery­body’s history,” said Linda McCarthy, the vi­cepres­i­dent of the LPRO.

In 1990, a de­vel­oper bought the land at 2 Alexan­dra Blvd. and re­built the gates us­ing stan­dard brick, re­tain­ing only the ball caps.

“They were put back up cheaply, and the stones on the top should have had an over­hang to pro­tect them from ice and snow,” said McCarthy. “They did a re­ally poor job of putting them back.”

For the last two years, the LPRO has been fundrais­ing and cam­paign­ing to raise money to re­store the gates. Af­ter a de­vel­oper bought the prop­erty di­rectly ad­ja­cent to the pil­lars, at 2704 Yonge St., the group sus­pended their project un­til they re­ceive more in­for­ma­tion about the de­vel­op­ment. McCarthy says she’s heard that the new de­vel­op­ers in­tend on restor­ing the gates. How­ever, she said she has been largely kept in the dark by the coun­cil­lor’s of­fice on this is­sue that she be­lieves she should be per­son­ally in­volved with as a com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“They don’t speak to me. They have spo­ken to some of the res­i­dents. But they never con­tacted Lyt­ton Park, and we’ve sent them let­ter af­ter let­ter af­ter let­ter. She [Carmichael Greb] to­tally ig­nores us,” said McCarthy.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the of­fice of Carmichael Greb told Post City that the de­vel­oper in­tends to re­build the gates with clinker brick and the orig­i­nal ball caps af­ter the de­vel­op­ment has been built.

“They said they’ll put the time, the ef­fort and the money into it and work with our of­fice to get them as close to the orig­i­nal state as we can get them,” he said. “That’s amaz­ing, from our per­spec­tive, it means that res­i­dents don’t have to pay for this.”

He also said that Lyt­ton Park res­i­dents were prop­erly notified.

“We’ve had dozens of con­ver­sa­tions with them. Their mem­bers are all aware,” he said. “I’ll tell you very bluntly, they’re run­ning some­one against the coun­cil­lor, so they’re try­ing to make this an elec­tion is­sue.”

McCarthy re­mains skep­ti­cal that this project will be car­ried out. What she views as the coun­cil­lor’s lack of re­spect to­ward ward res­i­dents’ groups is one rea­son why she and a num­ber of mem­bers from other lo­cal res­i­dents groups are at­tempt­ing to run a new can­di­date against Carmichael Greb in the up­com­ing elec­tion.

“We’ve been so dis­ap­pointed by her rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” McCarthy said. “We needed to do some­thing about it.”

Carmichael Greb her­self is aware that there is a cam­paign to side­line her re-elec­tion, but she be­lieves that it’s per­sonal. Linda McCarthy once worked for the coun­cil­lor, un­til she was let go three years ago.

“Since she left my of­fice, it’s re­ally just es­ca­lated over the last three years,” said Carmichael Greb.

McCarthy freely ad­mit­ted that she worked with the coun­cil­lor as a Com­mit­tee of Ad­just­ment con­sul­tant for one year (pre­vi­ously, she worked with the for­mer ward coun­cil­lor Karen St­intz for seven years). She in­sisted that her crit­i­cism of Carmichael Greb is valid.

“We’re just not get­ting any guar­an­tees back from them. It’s just, oh yeah, they’re go­ing to do this, but how do we re­ally know?” McCarthy said. “She is not go­ing to be back any­way. Not if any of us have any­thing to do with it. We’ll start again with some­body new.”

A for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion for the prop­erty at 2704 Yonge St. is ex­pected to be sub­mit­ted soon, at which point, the project to re­store the Alexan­dra Gates will re­sume.

“They’re run­ning some­one against the coun­cil­lor, so they’re try­ing to make this an elec­tion is­sue.”

Linda McCarthy (cen­tre) and mem­bers of the Lyt­ton Park Res­i­dents’ Or­ga­ni­za­tion

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