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NEWS: Patio proposal moves ahead, tentatively (Summer 2019)

July 16th, 2019 · No Comments

Layton helps forge a compromise for cheesecake purveyor

By Nabahat Hussain and Juan Romero 

After a lengthy dispute with the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA), the recently opened “LeTao Sweets” bakery is up and running with tentative plans for a patio next summer.

The bakery’s owner, Alex Lau, opened LeTao this past month at the north-west corner of Brunswick Avenue and College Street. 

His initial proposal for a patio at LeTao was shut down by the HVRA. His second proposal got the city’s approval, with some compromise. 

Lau says he still feels some uncertainty about the future of the patio and confusion about why the proposal was denied in the first place.  

“It was frustrating and disappointing because we opened up the discussion with the HVRA by providing them with the hard copy of the plan, but we’ve been shut out,” Lau said. “We still don’t understand the reasoning behind their initial opposition.”

Lau was advised by councillor Mike Layton’s office to seek support from at least 60 per cent of the residents within immediate proximity of the restaurant. He claims to have gained 80 signatures as of May 7, and said that many neighbours have dropped by to voice their support for the patio. 

The agreement finally came on May 22 at a community council meeting between councillor Mike Layton, the proponent (Lau), the Municipal Licensing Services (MLS), and the city’s transportation division which looks after assigning such spaces for commercial use.

Rory (Gus) Sinclair, the co-chair of the HVRA, said that the association was not involved directly in the agreement, but they did sign off on it. Sinclair also mentioned that the negotiation process was slowed down because the owner of LeTao was involved with the press. 

“The councillor had been trying to negotiate with the proponent, and while we were in the middle of negotiations the proponent went to the press. We don’t negotiate in the press, so we waited to make the deal and then spoke about it,” says Sinclair. 

There were sixteen conditions the city asked of the proponent including the design of the patio, the public space, and the inclusion of green spaces. 

The patio’s design and shape must provide at least 2.13 metres of sidewalk clearance. Between Oct. 31 and Apr. 15, the patio will have to be opened and shared with the public, as an un-enclosed space. Finally, the owner of the establishment will have to come up with a landscaping plan for the patio, which must include the retention of the already existing healthy trees that are in front of the café. 

Alex Lau has to implement the recommended landscaping plan no later than April 2020. However, the current patio can be operational until the deadline. 

With regard to the back and forth arguments before coming to an agreement, Lau says that he understands the residents’ association just needs the neighbourhood a certain way. “There is no conflict or grudges, they came by for ice cream!” Lau said. 

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