Neighbourhood Reviews Category

Toronto’s Eastern Beaches, You Have Competition

August 15th, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

It’s officially on between the Beach and Sugar Beach.  Not the neighbourhood; we get that Sugar Beach is just a beach, not a history-filled enclave of tony homes and sweet boutiques.  Before Sugar Beach even opened, The Star’s Christopher Hume gave it top marks; the man is not easy to please, and we knew then that there was something to this little piece of man-made paradise.

Hundreds gathered last week at the Jarvis Street Slip to celebrate the official opening of Sugar Beach and the adjoining Water’s Edge Promenade.  The new public spaces are poised to bring new life to a once-empty 10-acre industrial site near Lower Jarvis Street and Queen’s Quay Boulevard.

The new beach gets its name from proximity to the nearby Redpath Sugar factory, but also from white sand imported from Ohio, of all places.  It features 36 large pink beach umbrellas, 150 white Muskoka chairs, eight benches, a granite plaza, grassy mounds, a cascading water feature, oversized candy-striped rocks and a tree-lined promenade.

The first phase of the 300-metre long Water’s Edge Promenade continues with a tree-lined walkway that features a two-toned maple leaf mosaic design. The promenade’s second phase will run from the soon-to-open, 3.75-acre Sherbourne Common over to the Parliament Slip.  It’s all part of the emerging 55-acre East Bayfront neighbourhood, which is bounded by lower Jarvis Street to the west, Parliament Street to the east, Lake Shore Boulevard East to the north, and Lake Ontario to the south.

Completed on schedule and on budget, Canada’s Sugar Beach cost $14.3 million to design, build and landscape, while Water’s Edge Promenade (phase one) has a $10 million price tag.  When George Brown builds its waterfront campus to the east, the beach is sure to be full of students once the weather gets warm.

How does it stack up to Toronto’s eastern beaches?  Well, there’s no boardwalk, gardens, BBQ or picnic areas, sports facilities, volleyball or Olympic-sized pool.  You be the judge:  will you go west to suntan on Sugar Beach or stick with Woodbine, Ashbridges and Kew?

Need Polishing? Visit Beauty and the Beach

August 3rd, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

Beauty and the Beach Spa has been servicing the Toronto Beaches Area in Toronto from its location at 2279 Queen Street East for more than 20 years!  If like us, this heat has you baring a little more than usual and wanting to look your sun-kissed best, it’s worth a visit to this local gem for some polishing.  Spa virgins take note:  once you start getting pampered, you won’t want to stop…so you might want to check out some of the packages offered by Beauty and the Beach, which will allow you to try various services for a soothing day at the spa.

Relax and unwind in the spa’s soothing atmosphere with services that include:

-Facials (ahh!)

-Luxurious manicures and pedicures (wow, my feet can look like that?)

-Waxing (ouch!)

-Diamond Microdermabrasion (sounds scary!)

Skilled staff administer services ranging from cleansing and exfoliation to massage, skin rejuvenation, Misencil® eyelash extensions, hydration treatments, and much more for your face and body.

Call to book your appointment at 416-698-2944.  Note:  they are closed on Sundays & Mondays, open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

It’s Your Beach Neighbourhood – You Decide

July 26th, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

Apparently, the washrooms at Kew Beach are disgusting.

This will come as no surprise to Beaches locals and the many visitors who throng Kew Beach, but the state of the bathrooms recently made the news when the Toronto Sun reported on a non-local’s complaint to the city’s parks and recreation department and to the local councillor, Sandra Bussin.  The complainant compared the bathrooms to those in Third World countries:  no sink, overflowing toilets and trash cans, black and rusty urinals.

Though the acting director of parks agrees the Kew Beach washrooms needed to be replaced years ago, he said they’re trying to focus on renovations to washrooms on the waterfront and hope to include this one in next year’s capital budget.  Sandra Bussin, meanwhile, is inquiring as to why brand new washrooms located nearby, in a facility called the Boathouse, are locked.  She promises a community benefit of $200,000 from the TTC’s new $345-million Ashbridge’s Bay LRV storage facility will be used next year to refurbish the Beachfront, including an upgrade of the heavily used Kew Beach washrooms.

We’ve elected our Council, so we should decide:  is it acceptable for thousands of guests of our renowned Beaches Jazz Festival to use these disgusting washrooms…to say nothing of the locals who have to put up with these conditions day in and day out?  Send Sandra Bussin an email to express your concerns.

Speaking of the TTC’s new $345-million Ashbridge’s Bay LRV storage facility…the next public meeting the TTC is holding in regards to the planned facility and the Leslie Street connecting track will be held this Wednesday, July 28th from 6:30 pm – 9 pm at the Toronto EMS and Fire Academy, 895 Eastern Ave.  August 6 is the deadline if you would like input into the project assessment process; click here for the Public Notice about Wednesday’s meeting and how you can otherwise participate in the process.

New Professional Services Come to the Toronto Beach

July 20th, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Events, Neighbourhood Reviews

Great news for CIBC clients who live, work and shop in Toronto’s Beach community:  you can now bank and get financial advice
six days a week at the new, state-of-the-art CIBC Queen & Woodbine Banking Centre, which is open evenings and Saturdays.  The 4,800 square foot branch located at the intersection of Queen Street East and Brookmount Road will replace the CIBC at Danforth and Woodbine, which closes July 23.

To mark the opening, the new branch will be featuring time limited special offers and a prize draw.  The new location offers service in multiple languages  including English, Greek, Italian, Hindi and Spanish.  The full-service branch is barrier free with accessibility features such as a sit down teller station and two Automated Banking Machines (ABMs) installed at wheelchair accessible height with headphone jacks for audio access and grab bars for mobility assistance.

What else is newly open in the Toronto Beach?

The Globe and Mail reports that Helen Hobbs, a pet-death specialist, has recently opened a storefront in the Beaches called Pets at Peace, a tasteful, airy little spot with hardwood floors and exposed brick.  Though it’s not illegal to bury your pet yourself in Toronto (as long as the animal goes under two feet of earth), grieving pet owners may not want to deal with this themselves.  This Beaches store allows you to choose from urns of various designs and sizes, as well as silver necklaces with small, paw-shaped lockets to hold ashes.  Another benefit:  rather than leaving your departed pet at the vet’s office, where it will be refrigerated along with many other animals before being cremated, owners can bring their dead animal directly to Pets at Peace, and it will be taken to the crematorium within 24 hours. Hobbs charges $225 for a complete package: pickup from the family home or vet clinic within Toronto, private individual cremation, an urn and return of the ashes within a week.

The venerable Naval Club of Toronto – recently forced to relocate from its longtime Yorkville-area building – now has a home in the Beach-Riverdale community.  Established in 1935, the social club for past and current members of naval military service recently moved into its new permanent home at 1910 Gerrard St. E., just west of Woodbine Avenue.  It’s now open for business seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.

As you may know, the former funeral home at 1765 Danforth is being turned into a medical centre that will house the South East Toronto Family Health Team.This group of family doctors, residents and health care professionals will see about 12,000 patients.  They expect to open in Spring 2011 and doctors there will be accepting new patients, many of them from the Toronto Beaches. Some of the fencing is already up, and workers are hoping to be moving along with construction by the end of the summer.

Toronto Beach Report: The Water’s Fine

June 3rd, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

Seven of Toronto’s 11 beaches are blue flag and as pristine as any lake up North, because of improvements that have been made to the sewage system, a city official says, citing the beaches as ‘absolutely safe to swim in.’

Recent changes having underground storage tanks, creating storm water ponds and even redirecting roof downspouts from entering the system.

The beaches in the city which are NOT blue flag (i.e. safe to swim in) include Marie Curtis Park, Sunnyside Beach, Rouge Beach and Bluffers Park and the reason is they are at the mouths of rivers.  Beach residents will be gratified to know that none of their own beaches fall into this category.

Pollution can get into the lakes when the combined sewer system gets overloaded with storm water which gets into the rivers and eventually ends up in the lake.  Another reason is that in some locations, birds are leaving an excess of waste.

Toronto’s treatment plant involves a system where solid components are physically screened out and the water is then pumped into a second tank where micro-organisms eat the remaining matter.

Finally, the micro-organisms are killed before the water is released back into Lake Ontario.  At no time is raw sewage ever supposed to enter the system; even rainwater that has been contaminated with sewage receives the primary treatment, and is then disinfected and chlorinated in the third part of the treatment process before it goes to the lake.

Knowing all this, will you swim in Lake Ontario?  Let us know!

Boardwalk Deal ‘Stinks’ up the Toronto Beach

May 18th, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

Some Beaches residents are angry at the Boardwalk Pub.  Not because of its burgers or ice cream, but because for more than twenty years, it’s been the only food game in town (well, from Woodbine Beach Park to the end of the boardwalk).  It’s either bring a picnic lunch or go to the Boardwalk.

Now city council is about to keep it that way until 2028 – eliminating the possibility of competitive bids against the Boardwalk Pub owners and providing owner George Foulidis with sweetened terms, including the right to sell merchandise on the boardwalk, sell liquor in Ashbridge’s Bay Park and even pay $50,000 less in annual rent than city council asked for more than three years ago.

There is a movement at city council to kill the deal, which many see as unfair.  Some, like Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, even say this deal ’stinks to high heaven.’

Back in 2006, it was local councillor Sandra Bussin who urged Council not to ask for competitive bids, praising Mr. Foulidis’s independent business as a barrier to fast-food chains.  Now that the issue of a firm contract is finally going to council this week, Bussin is reportedly planning to recuse herself from the vote.If the new lease passes, Tuggs Inc. (Foulidis’ company) will have exclusive rights to advertise, sell merchandise, food and booze along the Boardwalk.  These exclusive vendor rights to a step further:  they actually extend to blocking community and charity events from the Beaches if Tuggs chooses to do so.

Some residents are concerned the area will turn into a ‘Coney Island’.  That could happen anyway no matter who’s doing the selling, but Tuggs is particularly obtuse:  despite the yearly rent savings and overall sweet deal, Tuggs is also refusing to kick in $200,000 for capital improvements to Woodbine Beach Park as laid out in the original agreement.

Mr. Foulidis argues that he has sunk decades and large sums of his own money into building and maintaining the Boardwalk Pub and his concession stands.

What do you think:  should Tuggs have a monopoly on the Beach or should competition be allowed?  Let us know!

Newest Fitness Club Opens in Toronto Beaches

May 2nd, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

Running enthusiasts in the Beach area have a new place to express their love of fitness and the outdoors: the newly formed Beaches Runners Club.

The creation of Dave Emilio, a devoted runner and local resident active in the Beaches community (he’s also the former owner of The Chopping Block Meats on Queen) the new social club strives to create a fun, organized, and friendly running experience. The club’s goals include keeping people active, healthy, and always ready to run their best.

A particular focus is getting families—including their children—into the running spirit.  After all, running is a relatively low budget, environmentally friendly way of having fun while staying in shape.

The group is open to members of all ages. Basic coaching, guidance and support are offered as part of the annual membership fee. Members receive and share tons of information about training and road racing of all distances.  The group’s website has been designed to become a networking and information destination of choice for runners from all over, but members enjoy unlimited access to all areas of the site and can even seek running, training, nutritional and health advice from any one of the club’s coaches online.

Formed earlier this spring, the group already has over 40 members and is growing quickly. Plans for the future include meeting socially on a monthly basis and arranging various local races and events to raise funds for the future implementation of a program to provide certified coaching to young runners.

Will you become a member of the Beaches Runners Club or check out the website for information?  Let us know!

Voting Website Gives Inside Scoop on Toronto Beach

May 2nd, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

The next Municipal election is October 25, 2010.  Too far away and not yet on your radar?  You might be interested in some cool stats about Ward 32 (Beaches-East-York) and the Beach, even if you don’t plan to vote at all!

Inside Toronto Votes has been set up to let you know more about your Ward, give you all the details on candidates and issues, and deliver news stories that matter to voters in the Beach.

Let’s see how accurate they are!  Calling the Beaches one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods, the website states that top local struggles include:

  • the challenge of maintaining the area’s unique character while striving for appropriate new development.
  • rising property taxes when provincial market value assessments determine property values are extremely high
  • infrastructure
  • the inadequacy of local sewer systems
  • public transit and improved streetcar service

Sounds about right…

To find all the candidates that are running in Ward 32 (Beaches-East York) as well as some really interesting stats about who lives in the Beach, how much money they make, average age and eduction and the like, click here.  Definitely a website to follow as the election approaches!

Toronto Beach Ban on Dogs Now in Effect

April 21st, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

In a recently published press release, Toronto City Council reminded dog owners that, with a few exceptions, their pets are prohibited at beaches from now until November 1, 2010.  The goal of the regulation is to balance the interests of dog owners with the rights of swimmers, sunbathers and residents to have clean beaches.

Of course, service dogs for the visually impaired are allowed, and there are selected off-leash areas at Kew Beach.

Dogs ARE permitted on leashes at beaches during the off-season, from November 1 to March 31, and are allowed off-leash at Kew-Balmy and Woodbine beaches “below the snow fence line” during those months.

For those who are unhappy with the ban, a Canadian Press report suggests working with local officials to create a separate area for dogs at the beach, perhaps in areas that are not heavily used already.  Some considerations are how much it would cost the city to build and maintain a canine play area , and what rules should be established to ensure a peaceful, controlled and clean space for dogs on the beach.

Do you agree with the ban on dogs on the beaches during the peak season?  Let us know!

Beach Buzz: Where to Dine in the Beaches

April 14th, 2010 by nsalter in Neighbourhood Reviews

The Queen Street/Gerrard Street East strip made it into the news again this week with several places receiving favourable reviews.  Want to know what’s hot in the Toronto Beach neighbourhood?  Read on!

McCarthy’s Irish Pub at 1801 Gerrard Street East in the Upper Beach considers itself  ‘the only real Irish pub in the east end’ and, and, according to a recent review, that might not be an exaggeration.  If you like decent taps, live music and Celtic dancing, you might have found your Irish home; beware of pricey pints and Irish people staring at you.

Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant at 1220 Queen St. East (between Leslieville and the Beach) just got a favourable review – it’s not just for pasta anymore.

The Beacher Cafe at 2162 Queen St. East was rated the number one brunch spot in the Beach on Yelp (you can click the link to see other great Beaches brunch spots).  Expect high-end food at medium prices, great service, and lots of room to spread out. There is a nice patio for warmer days and you can get in and out of there in a hurry.

The Beaches Bakery & Cafe at 900 Kingston Rd. earned kudos for its noodle salad and veggie wraps.

Do you have a favourite noshing spot in the Beach?  Let us know!