Welcome to Harbord Village

HVRA Welcomes Mediated Settlement on Central Tech Field

Thanks to a mediated settlement recently concluded under the auspices of the Ontario Municipal Board, the Harbord Village Residents’ Association and its community partners have succeeded in reducing the scale and potentially harmful effects of a proposed large championship field at Central Tech.

You are hearing this now for the first time, as the mediation process required absolute confidentiality while the issues were still in play.

"This settlement restores a spirit of co-operation and community involvement between the Harbord Village Residents’ Association and the Toronto District School Board", says Tim Grant, Chair of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association.

The HVRA, the City of Toronto, the Palmerston Area Residents’ Association, along with former Ward 20 city councillor Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, achieved a settlement agreement with the TDSB, Razor Management, and Friends and Neighbours of Central Tech that all parties believe will prove to be satisfactory.

At issue was a commercial plan, put forward two years ago by the TDSB, to have a private firm, Razor Management, replace the natural grass playing field with artificial turf and enclose the field and running track with a dome during the winter months in order for Razor to operate the facility as a money-making enterprise outside of school hours.

The original plan was opposed by the HVRA and both ward councillors along with the newly-elected school trustee for several reasons:

The dome was too large for the site; artificial turf has an assortment of negative environmental impacts and health risks; only a small portion of the facility’s operating hours would be open to the local community; user fees could be prohibitively expensive for some people; traffic congestion and parking problems are likely to get worse, just to name a few of our biggest concerns.

In addition, soil sampling a year ago revealed contamination and, since then, all of the outdoor grounds have been locked up and remain out of bounds.

The HVRA’s opposition to the plan as originally proposed has always been to ensure that the benefits of the sports facility located in our downtown neighbourhood are realized for everyone involved — students and non-students alike — with minimal negative consequences for the neighbourhood as well as present and future generations of Central Tech students.

Leading up to mediation, the TDSB plan was first turned down at the Committee of Adjustment and then denied at Superior Court and later Divisional Court when the TDSB argued that school lands were theirs to dispose of as they saw fit. In January, the matter was brought before the Ontario Municipal Board, where mediation was presented as an option under the supervision of OMB Vice-Chair James McKenzie.

This process occurred within an atmosphere of mutual compromise and reconciliation. Over four days, working with HVRA’s lawyer and planner and teams from the seven parties, we came to a settlement proposal which was then ratified by various committees and the boards of the residents’ associations, and by Toronto City Council and the Toronto District School Board.

As a result, we are glad to report that, through a process of give and take on all sides, a mutually agreeable accord has been reached. In summary the agreement mitigates the impact of the project on the community, provides both for community access and community oversight and has the likelihood of an improvement of the streetscape on Bathurst and Harbord. Although it does not provide a perfect solution to every issue of concern to us and our members, the agreed-upon settlement represents a substantial improvement over the original TDSB plan. 

Here are some of the settlement’s main points compared to the original plan (more detailed comparison here):

Original Plan / Current Settlement

  • Dome footprint: 480 ft. x 250 ft. / Smaller footprint: 309 ft. x 215 ft.

  • Dome height: 80 ft. / Lower height: 59 ft.

  • Dome volume: 9,600,000 cubic ft. / Less volume: 3,919,665 cubic ft.

  • Maximum number of occupants: 300+ / Fewer occupants: 175 = reduced traffic demands

  • Off-peak parking study proves nothing / New study will examine amount of parking needed

  • Running track inside dome / Running track outside dome

  • Virtually no track time in non-dome months / 98% of track time in non-dome months

  • No community access to field inside dome / 17% access to field plus end zones inside dome

  • No help for underprivileged users / 10 hours free for local Neighbourhood group

  • No support for community programmes / $1,000/year for community swims at CT pool

  • No community input/control over facility / HVRA & PARA part of governance team

We pushed for natural turf and no dome at the bargaining table, but when this was no longer a realistic goal, our representatives negotiated the best deal they could hope to obtain under the circumstances.

The Minutes of Settlement that have been signed by all parties are available for viewing on the HVRA website. These still must be presented to the OMB for adoption on March 23, 9 a.m. Participants are still welcome to speak, if they wish.

You can also view a visual display of sketches and photographs produced by the City that illustrate better than any words the difference between the original proposal and the mediated settlement.

Signed :
Tim Grant,
Chair HVRA March 6, 2015

Donations sought for Graffiti Removal Teams

In February 2013, 30 people representing police, school, Harbord BIA, residents, the councillor and his staff met to discuss what to do about the continuing graffiti tagging that is going on in our lanes. Following that event, almost all graffiti tags on Sussex Mews and Harbord Street were removed or painted over, and two of the most prolific "taggers" have been arrested. Now HVRA would like to extend the programme to other Harbord Village lanes. 

  • If you would like your laneway to be next and are willing to help, contact HVRA Chair Tim Grant at chair@harbordvillage.com.

Up to now, the cost of paints and graffiti removal chemicals has been borne by a handful of individuals. That amounts to thousands of dollars. HVRA is now seeking financial donations that will create a superfund to pay for paint and supplied to be used on other laneways. Why is this necessary? Many of those whose garages or houses have been tagged are on fixed incomes. The HVRA wants to make graffiti eradication painless for them, and will find volunteers to do the work. But they need funds to support their work. 

  • If you can help, please mail cheques payable to "HVRA" to: HVRA, 360A Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1X1. Mark "graffiti removal" on your cheque.

Toronto Heritage Grant Program

Once again in 2015, the City is offering grants for restoration work on houses within our two Heritage Conservation Districts. (For wonderful photos and reports on those districts, see the Heritage Conservation section of this website.)

If you own one of the 349 heritage-designated houses, you are eligible for a grant from the city for 50% of the estimated cost of conservation work, up to $10,000. Applications are due by 4 pm on April 3, 2015. Forms and information are available online.

  • If you’re wondering whether to apply, you can learn more about the requirements at a public workshop on Tues. Feb. 10, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm in Committee Room #2, 2nd Floor, City Hall.
  • If you are considering an application and would like advice, Gary Miedema will be happy to talk with you:
    416 338-3278416 338-3278, or gmiedem@toronto.ca

We were disappointed in February 2015 to hear from the City that our community was not one of the two chosen for an extension to our heritage districts. We continue to press for inclusion. 

Heritage protection applies only to house facades — what is visible from the street, not the back or the inside.

For more information, please check the City’s Heritage Preservation Services website.

And we hope to share better news soon.

 Barton Cottages on Robert Street

HVRA supports the CT Community Swim

pool photosThe Central Tech Community Swim is every Saturday from late September to the May long weekend

A donation of $2 per person, accepted at the door, is used to pay the pool lifeguards. 

The pool is divided into three sections each week, so that there is lap swim, a child and family area in the shallow water, and a section in the deep end with a diving board.  Everyone is welcome!

Where: Central Tech Pool at Lennox and Lippincott Streets, southeast of Bathurst, door 16
When: every Saturday from late September to the May long weekend
Hours: 2 to 4 p.m.
Contact: centraltechpool@gmail.com

See more about HVRA's support for the CT Community Swim here.

HVRA presents COMMUNITY BUILDER AWARD to neighbourhood hero Sharron Richards

Our thanks to photographer Richard Longley.

Our thanks to good neighbour Sharron Richards of Major Street for showing extraordinary courage and compassion in coming to the aid and assistance of two young women who had been mugged, robbed and physically beaten on Major Street south of Ulster.

In appreciation of Sharron's generosity, HVRA's chair Tim Grant presented Sharron with a Community Builder Award during our AGM on November 3, 2014.

The citation continued, "Answering one’s door at 2:30 in morning is not an easy thing, nor, upon doing so only to find two women in distress and one bleeding profusely from the head.  But this is precisely what happened to Sharron Richards on the morning of October 30, 2014.  Sharron did not hesitate to bring them inside and tend the wounds with towels and ice and by calling the police who arrived quickly with an ambulance. 

"Harbord Village is proud of Sharron’s actions on that night. And with neighbours like Sharron, Harbord Village will thrive."

Click here to see Sharron tell CBC-TV about the late-night knock on her door.

7th Annual Pumpkin Festival — ooohs and aaahs for our 800 carved and candle-lit pumpkins

HVRA winners at Heritage Toronto Awards October 21, 2014


Left: Volunteers (re)light candles during the very windy Pumpkin Fest on November 1. Our HVRA chair/festival coordinator Tim Grant is in the middle of the group of three at the back of the table.

Our thanks to the 35+ volunteers who helped make the festival an enchanted evening.

See more photos of our 2014 Pumpkin Festival here.

Notes from our Chair Tim Grant

Following a rainy Halloween night, the 7th annual Harbord Street Pumpkin Festival took place on a dry, but windy Saturday, November 1st, 2014.   Close to 800 carved and candle-lit pumpkins were displayed on table tops from Spadina Avenue to Borden Street.   Among them were dozens of especially-clever designs that attracted “ooohs” and “aaahs” from hundreds of attendees, young and old. Squeels of joy from the youngest viewers could be heard all evening up and down Harbord Street.

While not rainy, the Festival took place on a cold night, so 60 liters of free hot cider given out by volunteers at the HVRA tents were much appreciated by those attending the Festival.  While sipping their cider, many asked questions and mentioned the issues most important to them.  In addition to hot cider, attendees were also warmed by the bagpipes played by HVRA’s past chair Rory Gus Sinclair. And stationed in every block, another set of volunteers sold “50-50” tickets to raise money for the Community Swim which occur s every Saturday at Central Tech school.

Our first thanks goes to our partner organization, the Harbord Street Business Improvement Association, who rented the tables, placed promotional posters in storefronts along Harbord, and recruited U of T football players to help set up 75 long tables along Harbord.  

A second round of thanks goes to Longos who once again sold us the 60 liters of cider at a much reduced rate.   And last but not least, a big thanks goes to the more than 35 volunteers, who handed out Festival cards during Halloween, collected pumpkins, inserted candles and lit them, dispensed cider and helped to clean up at the end of the evening.

Putting on such a festival requires an enormous amount of work by many, and lasts but three hours. But the joy it brings to so many,  makes it all worthwhile. I’m already looking forward to next year!

Tim Grant, 2014 Pumpkin Festival Coordinator

HVRA and board member Wendy Smith win HERITAGE TORONTO awards!

HVRA winners at Heritage Toronto Awards October 21, 2014

Above: Representing HVRA at the Heritage Toronto Award Ceremony October 21, 2014 (left to right) —
Eleanor Levine, Oral History Project coordinator Nicole Schulman, Margaret Procter, HVRA Chair Tim Grant, and Wendy Smith.
(Photo courtesy Heritage Toronto.)

Heritage Toronto citation honouring HVRA's heritage campaigns over the past decade

"Founded in the 1960s, the Harbord Village Residents' Association is dedicated to building local community.

"From 2005 to 2009, the HVRA secured two Heritage Conservation District plans in its area.

"In 2012, it shifted its attention to include the area's cultural heritage. Laneways were recently renamed after local residents from Harbord Village's past, and the Harbord Village History working group has conducted oral history interviews about daily life with 100 of the area's oldest, long-time residents. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and indexed by theme, and published online. In the fall of 2013, the Association partnered with a group of Museum Studies students and Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre to present a physical exhibit which in turn generated more memories and comments.

Future projects may include collecting photographs from long-time residents and conducting interviews in other languages.

"The Jury commended the Harbord Village Residents' Association for bringing their area’s heritage to life in fresh, accessible, and innovative ways. Rich research has been shared with a broad audience both in neighbourhood streetscapes and online."

HVRA was a big winner at the Heritage Toronto Annual Awards ceremony on October 21. We were honoured, first, with a COMMUNITY HERITAGE AWARD  (Toronto and East York Community Council Area), and later during the ceremony with the MEMBERS' CHOICE AWARD, which is an award voted by all Heritage Toronto members for their favourite of the eight 2014 Community Heritage nominees.

HVRA board member Wendy Smith was also honoured, receiving Heritage Toronto's AWARD OF EXCELLENCE (its highest award) in the Media category, for her Toronto Park Lot Project. The Heritage Toronto Jury applauded Wendy's project for its "scholarly attention to detail and its engaging presentation", and praised it as "an excellent tool for promoting a greater understanding of Toronto’s heritage." You can see Wendy's project here: http://parklotproject.com

The Heritage Toronto Awards Jury commended HVRA for bringing our area’s heritage "to life in fresh, accessible, and innovative ways". Each of the two Community Heritage awards to HVRA was accompanied by a cheque to HVRA for $500, which will be a very welcome support to our future heritage projects.

HVRA was represented at the awards ceremony by former HVRA board member Eleanor Levine and present board member Margaret Procter. Both were valuable members of HVRA's 2013 Oral History Project team, which recorded the memories of Harbord Village residents who lived in the neighbourhood before 1975. Eleanor, who accepted the two awards on our behalf, conducted most of the 100+ hour-long oral history interviews which can now be heard on the Harbord Village History website.

Congratulations to everyone involved in Harbord Village heritage and history projects over the years:

For work on the Harbord Village Heritage Conservation District Advisory Committee: Gus Sinclair, Sue Dexter, and Richard Longley.

Gus Sinclair, coordinator of our Laneway Naming Project, and jury members Bob Barnett, Margie Zeidler, Tim Grant, and Neil Wright.

And to everyone who submitted laneway name suggestions, thank you.

Members of the Oral History Project team: Dr. Nicole Schulman, Eleanor Levine, Richard Gilbert, Wendy Smith, Margaret Procter, Dinny Biggs, Colin Furness, Mary Newberry, Margaret de Boer and Frances Robinson.

And to all 100 of our oral history project interviewees, thank you.

Congratulations EVERYONE, and well done!

Honest Ed's Development

Community survey finds green space, a civic plaza, and a community cultural centre the three top priorities of neighbouring residents in the redevelopment of the Mirvish Village site


Westbank Projects Corp., a Vancouver development firm, has acquired the Honest Ed’s site in the block bounded by Lennox, Markham, Bathurst and Bloor. It has undertaken a series of public consultations and will be presenting plans to the City as early as later in the Fall.

In response the Mirvish Village Task Group, led by the Palmerston Residents Association, with the participation of the Seaton Village, Annex, and Harbord Village residents' associations, has surveyed residents to determine community desires for whatever building development take place on this critical site. This will be one of the largest developments in our part of town.

Asked to rank the importance of the inclusion of various kinds of public amenities in the development, 276 respondents ranked GREEN SPACE first (215 very important, 48 somewhat important); a CIVIC PLAZA second (109/75); and a  COMMUNITY CULTURAL CENTRE third (111/89).

The survey also found that residents favoured a building height similar to that of the B-Street Condos across Bathurst Street, and wanted to see only small-size retail operations in the building.

A further public process will take place in the future.

You can see the study results here.

Harbord Village Pilot Project Gets Ahead of Emerald Ash Killers

Cost to HVRA homeowners as little as $250 every 2 years

Harbord Village EAB Management Plan —
for more information, click here to visit our Treeing the Village web pages.

Cover of

Finally, some real hope in staving off the green beetle that is threatening one in ten trees in the City of Toronto and is further advanced on the University of Toronto campus than was thought. Some have been found in Harbord Village, but we need to act quickly to save half our trees.

“We need to be in a position to act by June,” said Prof. Sandy Smith, University of Toronto Forestry Department Entymologist. “Injections must be within June-August timeframe, or the trees will die.”

“This is way better than we thought,” said Tim Grant, Chair of HVRA, when we were given a quick preview of the plan. “We still have a chance to act.”

What is promising is that the cost of injecting affected trees is considerably less over time than cutting them down, because a major infestation is invariably fatal.
Read more here.

Find your tree!

Our Google Earth map will show you your street, your house, your tree — and the entire Harbord Village canopy.

Check it out on our Harbord Village Trees Inventory web page

Reading recommendation from the HV Tree Committee:
Here's a timely article about tree care from the Fine Gardening web site: What's Wrong with That Tree?

Google Earth