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CHATTER: Annex Residents’ Association AGM covers pressing issues (May 2022)

May 17th, 2022 · No Comments

The ecological restoriation of Paul Martel Park (formerly Ecology Park) was one of the agenda items at the ARA’s AGM. The park is now home to a Bloor Annex BIA-sponsored mural created by First Nations artists led by local artist Joseph Sagaj. NEILAND BRISSENDEN/GLEANER NEWS

The Annex Residents’ Association (ARA) held their annual general meeting on April 21 via Zoom. Those in attendance included members of the ARA, residents and representatives from development teams, city council and Toronto Police Service. The most notable discussions were about improving safety on Avenue Road, the West Annex Heritage Project, vandalism at St. Alban’s Square and the restoration of Paul Martel Park. 

In response to concerns about safety on Avenue Road, the Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC) has teamed up with Brown + Storey Architects to propose significant changes to this area. The ARSC describes Avenue Road, between St. Clair Avenue  and Bloor Street, as “a six-lane, high-speed road that is unsafe to pedestrians and cyclists.” The proposed changes would reduce the number of lanes on Avenue Road from six to four and expand the sidewalks from 1.5 to 8.5 metres. The increased space on either side of the road would make room for a linear park or bike lanes. This proposal has not yet been approved by the city.

Sandra Shaul, co-chair of the ARA heritage committee, described the upcoming West Annex Heritage Project. The ARA and the city have collaborated to identify and assess sites for inclusion in the West Annex Heritage Conservation District. Heritage sites are protected from demolition and renovation if the changes harm the heritage value of the property. Property owners can apply for additional funding if the property is damaged or requires maintenance. Shaul stated that heritage conservation is part of maintaining the public realm, and that there is “great merit in doing more designation [of heritage sites].”

One of the longer discussions concerned the destruction of rose bushes at St. Alban’s Square in February, 2022. A concerned citizen felt that their reports about this vandalism had not been taken seriously. Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) said that the vandal was apprehended but the Crown did not press charges because the damage occurred on Crown land. The concerned resident, who had also maintained the garden, was not satisfied with this update. Representatives from the Toronto Police Service suggested that residents take photos or videos if they notice vandalism and call 911.

Another topic of discussion was the ecological restoration of Paul Martel Park (formerly Ecology Park). Paul Richard, a retired city gardener, has organized a team of Indigenous gardeners to restore the park. He reported that they have received ten weeks of funding which will cover the planting of grasses, flowers, and shrubbery, as well as the restoration of other park features. Richard expressed his gratitude to the community and received a warm reception from members of the ARA. 

—Fox Oliver/Gleaner News


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