Presenting: Neil Macdonald and the Beach Business Improvement Association – A Community Overview

11. The Beaches Library is a historic building and community gathering place. Please provide us with more background about that. What are some of the special events put on by the Beaches Library?

The New York- based Carnegie Corporation gave the Toronto Public Library $50,000 for three branch libraries. Mayor Tommy Church laid the cornerstone for Beaches Library in Kew Gardens. It was opened in 1916. Eden Smith & Sons were the architects and their design was almost identical to Wychwood and High Park branches. In 1980 it was renovated by Stinson Montgomery Sisam Architects. Once again it was closed for renovations in 2004 with work undertaken by Phillip H. Carter Architect and Kingsland & Architects Inc., (in joint venture) and re-opened in 2005. A one-ton cast bronze owl by architect Phillip H. Carter and artisan Ludzer Vandermolen was unveiled by the entrance on July 7.

The Beaches Library

12. What community, non-profit and service organizations are active in the Beach? What about places of worship?

The Beach is a very caring community with many dedicated individuals and social service organizations that work really hard to improve life here. For example, there’s Community Centre 55, The Beaches Lions, Rotary, and many other groups all working to make this place the best place to live. We have a wide representation of places of worship that open their doors to visitors.

Centre 55, a hub of community activity

13. What sports and recreation facilities are available in the Beach? What activities are going on by the waterfront? Is it possible to swim in Lake Ontario?

The easier question would be: what can’t you do in the Beach. Favourites include rollerblading, rollerskiing, bicycling, running and strolling (all on the Martin Goodman Trail), beach volleyball, kite-flying, sailing, windsurfing, cross-country skiing, rock skimming, sand castle-building, tanning, kayaking, canoeing, and of course, swimming – either in the Olympic pool or at Woodbine Beach with its Blue Flag indicating excellent water quality. People watching is another favourite activity!

Beautiful residences along the waterfront

14. Please tell us about new initiatives regarding street furniture and signage that will adorn the neighbourhood.

We are about to engage the services of an urban design streetscaping firm to guide us as we make decisions about the years to come. It won’t be something that happens overnight because it will take a big budget and we’re not there yet. We began the beautification process in the summer of 2006 with gorgeous terra cotta street planters and we filled the existing concrete planters with flowers. We also installed banners. In the summer of 2007 we should get our new street signs.

Toronto landmarks

15. If someone was to come in from out of town, what would you recommend to them to get to know the area? Are there guided walking tours available?

I would love to see people walk from one end of our BIA to the other, which is just over 2 kms, starting three blocks west of Woodbine. If they are unable to walk distances, they might want to consider the streetcar for a great ride. It’s not just interesting stores and restaurants, with colourful facades. It’s the beautiful canopy of trees, Kew Park, Glen Manor Ravine and interesting architectural details and buildings, like the Firehall, along the way. Of course, I’d also recommend that they take a parallel walk on the Boardwalk, enjoying wonderful sights like the Kew Williams (Gardener’s) Cottage, Leuty Lifeguard Station, Balmy Beach Club, the RC Harris Filtration Plant and the delightful walks around Ashbridge’s Bay. As you can see, you need many hours and ideally, many visits!

Serenity by the water

Thank you, Neil, for taking the time for this interview, and for informing us about the Beach community. Good luck to you and the merchants from the Beach Business Improvement Area!

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