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NEWS: A tribute to Edward Leman (Dec. 2021)

December 17th, 2021 · No Comments

Modest yet forceful ARA volunteer left his mark

Never a NIMBY, Edward worked hard to persuade developers to work with the community and make adjustments and improvements to their proposals. COURTESY THE ANNEX RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

By David Harrison

Edward Leman gave more time and expertise to protect the Annex community than any other volunteer director in the modern era of the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA).

Educated as an architect, Leman switched his allegiance early on to urban planning and international development, establishing his consulting firm, Chreod, in 1985. 

The biography posted on the company website records an impressive body of international work in development policy and risk analysis. 

Leman’s typical aversion to self-promotion means that the website biography is sorely out of date and incomplete. His services were sought across the planet from Chicago to Ho Chi Minh City, from Seattle to Shanghai, from Vancouver to East Java.  

He was at heart a modest man who valued family and home above all. And we had the great good fortune that he called the Annex home.

Leman brought all his experience and skills to his role as Co-Chair of our Planning and Development committee. 

He held this position for almost 10 years and was able to build a superb group of other like-minded professionals (architects, lawyers and planners) and community leaders to create what has surely become a gold standard for other associations.

A long-time renter at 50 Prince Arthur, he lived and worked there at different times in his life both as a young man and as an adult. 

He put to rest the notion that only homeowners can have a proprietary interest in the future of their community. 

His aim with the ARA was to ensure that the Annex remained a livable community, and, in between his work that took him to such faraway places as China, Mongolia or Nepal, this occupied ever more time than he likely anticipated.

Never a NIMBY, Leman worked hard to persuade developers to work with us and make adjustments and improvements to their proposals. 

This was never easy work but Leman devised the “Working Group” approach which often found the ARA, the city and developers sitting together and making compromises towards a better plan. 

Leman’s approach was so successful that it was adopted by other communities. 

We were able to make many significant improvements to development plans. The Bloor Street United development would be an excellent example as would the rejection of the proposal at 64 Prince Arthur.

Naturally, success is never guaranteed but even with the testiest of developers Leman kept prodding. 

There are, at present, some 30 development proposals in play affecting the Annex, and Leman built remarkable software to keep track of these so they are available for all of us to review. 

It is not apparent who of us now will have the skills to carry on maintaining this sophisticated software.

The work he started is not finished and others will take the baton. 

Clearly, 145 St. George looms largest and soonest in proposals to be assuaged. 

Our bench strength will be able to continue the work he began but will sorely miss his unique skills and insights that always ensured a more interesting point of view.

We offer our sincerest condolences to his wife Dilys and their two daughters.

David Harrison is the former chair of the Annex Resident’s Association.

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