Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, via Zoom
Present: John Keating, Peter Norman, Margaret Smith, Harry Lay, Mary Anne Quance, Linda DeGiorgio, Brigid Higgins, Brian and Anke Crabtree, Orianna Polo (Office of MP Julie Dzerowicz), Katie Kwaczek (Constituency Office of MPP Marit Stiles), Michael Jacoby (Office of Councillor Ana Bailão), Richard Baker, Maurice Williams (Chair of the Northcliffe Village Residents’ Association), and members of the public.
Introduction: This public meeting is meant to showcase some of the many projects the RHRA carries out during the year.
1 – Reorganization of the RHRA
- John reported that he is stepping down as Chair of the residents’ association. He has been involved with RHRA for some 25 years and was assigned the role of Chair by Florence and Dick Watts when Dick stepped down in 2012. John said he is not going away and is looking forward to continued involvement in neighbourhood events, but not in a leadership role.
The executive has discussed the next steps. Since no one is immediately available to take over the leadership, the RHRA will mostly shut down over the summer and regroup in the fall to decide whether and how to keep the group going.
We are now looking for new executive members as well as someone to take over the chairperson role. Can we persuade younger families, especially those with kids, to invest a little interest, time & energy in the community? The work of the RHRA is one of the things that makes the neighbourhood such a wonderful place to live. It would be a shame to lose that.
2 – Reports from local representatives
- Oriana Polo (Office of MP Julie Dzerowicz) – Oriana reported that the federal government is working on the serious backlog of Canadian passport applications. Applications have sharply increased as the pandemic begins to wind down. The government has hired hundreds of new staff to try to clear the backlog.
- Michael Jacoby (Office of Councillor Ana Bailão) – There will be a free compost day on May 25 at Roseneath Park at 3:30 pm. A new concessionbuilding, a creative arts lab and a splash pad will officially at Earlscourt Park on Friday, May 27 at 6 pm. Lots of fun activities are planned. Loretto College will be the site of the next Environment Day in the area on July 16, from 10am to 2pm. It’s a chance to pick up free compost and drop off items such as household hazardous waste and electronic waste
3 – New projects and events
- Queen’s Jubilee Party, June 4 – This year marks the 70th anniversary of Queen’ Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne. To mark the occasion, the Northcliffe Village Residents’ Association (NVRA) has teamed up with the RHRA and other partners to put on a Queen’s Jubilee party at Santa Chiara Park (St. Clair Ave. W. at Northcliffe Blvd.) on Saturday, June 4, from 1 – 5 pm. NVRA Chair Maurice Williams said the event includes a town crier, a piper, live music, a chance to have your picture taken with life-size cut outs of the Queen, her corgis and a Beefeater, and lots of old-fashioned games, including a tug-of-war for both kids and adults. The Ontario School of Ballet will put on performances at 2:30 and 3:30 and DeSotos restaurant will have a food truck on hand. Follow the event page on our website for information and update!. We are looking for volunteers to help out. Please contact email@example.com.
4 – Overview of some of our projects during the year
- Regal Heights Maple syrup – John said tapping local trees to make syrup grew out of his experience tapping his own backyard tree. In 2018, at the suggestion of Dave Meslin, John and Dave invited other people to offer their trees for tapping and assembled volunteers to collect and boil down the sap. This year there were 10 trees with 13 taps and more than 15 volunteers. This year for the first time, we showed two people from south of Regal Heights how to tap their own. We’re hoping it’s the start of spreading the project across other parts of the city. See the event report on our website HERE and coverage from previous years HERE.
- Canada Day Parade – Harry will coordinate the Canada Day Parade for 2022. He’s looking for musicians to accompany the parade through the neighbourhood. The parade starts at Oakwood Collegiate on July 1 and will be followed by a small gathering at Regal Road School. It’s a fun event the RHRA has been putting on for decades. See pictures and reports from previous Canada Day parades HERE.
- Pumpkin Carving – This event is usually held the Saturday before Halloween. This year it will be October 22 at Santa Chiara Park. It started about a dozen years ago in front of Regal Road School. It was ghastly weather but the handful of kids who showed up had fun. In recent years, it has been jointly presented with Northcliffe Village Residents Association. See pictures and reports from previous Pumpkin Carving events HERE.
- Carol Sing – This is one of the most beloved RHRA events of the year. Brian Crabtree, who helped provide the music one year, called it an inspiration for the season. Brigid Higgins described how it often begins with a light snowfall and a small crowd that slowly grows. In the past, Florence Watts organized participation of the Salvation Army band and sometimes a pair of polices horses would also attend. Nick and Linda DiGiorgio supply the sound equipment and arrange the hot chocolate. And of course, Santa pays a visit. See pictures and reports from previous Carol Sing events HERE.
- Pub Nights – This get-together was held every other month before COVID forced us to put it on hold. Beth Marcilio initiated this event. She spoke with Fox & Fiddle and they agreed to give a 25% discount on the food. It’s always fun and often draws people who have not attended RHRA events before. Harry noted that it is also a good opportunity to share ideas and learn more about the community. See pictures from past Pub Nights HERE.
- Regal Heights Review – The Review is a printed newsletter with short magazine-style articles about the community. It is distributed to every home in the neighbourhood, including apartments. The first edition was published in 2020. An electronic copy of the first edition can be found on the RHRA website HERE. Brigid said the second edition is well underway. The theme is history. There are stories about the oldest house in the area, profiles of past chairs of the RHRA and a description of what Regal Heights used to look like when it was considered a less than desirable area to live. Brigid hopes to have it published in the autumn.
- The Laneway Project – The Laneway Project is an organization that works to make derelict laneways into usable public space. They will begin working on the laneway behind the Dufferin-St. Clair Library this summer. Improvements will include murals, plantings and a general cleanup, making the laneway into a destination, rather than a place to avoid. More information can be found at this website HERE and in this slideshow HERE.
5– Communications and Planning
- Communications – Peter reported that the neighbourhood communicates through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Next Door and the residents’ association uses these to report on the work of the RHRA. There is also the association’s email list, which has about 450 households signed up, as well as an active website, regalheights.ca. The website also includes a Committee of Adjustment tracker, which allows anyone to follow property developments in the immediate area. Peter regularly reports on RHRA events, such as Pub Nights and Pumpkin Carving and passes on relevant information from the City of Toronto.
6– Police Community Partnership
- John noted that Rosa Cordiano regularly attended meetings of the Police Community Partnership until they were suspended because of COVID. She still tracks incident reports from the police to keep people informed about crime and security issues. Rosa has discovered that Regal Heights, which is in Division 13, has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire city. That doesn’t mean it is completely safe. There have been isolated incidents, including an attempted abduction a few weeks ago on Benson Ave. Like anywhere in the city, car theft is a growing problem, especially cars that have a pushbutton start. Electronic devices allow thieves to read a car’s key code from the owner’s key at a considerable distance. The best way to prevent it is to keep your keys in a faraday bag at night to block all electronic signals.
7 – Street Beautification Programs
- Gardening update– John noted that the RHRA planted and maintains gardens in areas that were abandoned or neglected. He said it not only makes the area look better but keeps it from attracting litter and vandalism. A good example is the strip of City land on the west side of Springmount Ave. John said that more than 20 years ago, it was overgrown and ignored. Since it looked abandoned, people would throw large bags of garbage and empty bottles in the tall grass and weeds. John started cutting the grass and the garbage problem disappeared. Then members of the RHRA and other neighbours started planting flowers and shrubs and the area is now a beautiful semi-wild space. See an interactive map of all the RHRA’s barrels and gardens HERE
A similar thing happened when neighbours on Rosemount Ave. began planting the strip of land south of Oakwood Collegiate. Now it is a beautiful formal garden, complete with an irrigation system provided by the City at the request of the residents’ association.
- Gardening Coordinator Mary Anne Quance reported that she has mapped out plans for the 2022 gardening season. She needs volunteers to help with planting, tending and cleaning up flower beds. If you enjoy gardening, get on our volunteer list by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org You can help out as much or as little as you like. It’s fun and you’ll get to know your neighbours better.
- Mary Anne also noted that Daffodil Hill, along the south edge of Regal Road School, still comes alive with yellow flowers every spring. Florence Watts was the main driving force behind planting the hill. It is now also quite heavily treed. The RHRA plans to thin out the sick or invasive trees this year in order to give the flowers a better chance.
- The RHRA also holds an annual neighbourhood cleanup in late April to pick up litter. You can help all year round by picking up bits of trash near your own home when you notice it.
8– Community Welcome Project
- Harry Lay reported that when we hear about someone who has recently moved into neighbourhood, we deliver a welcome package to their home, including information about Regal Heights and letters of welcome from political representatives.
Finance chair Linda DeGiorgio said the association still has a good cushion of funds as a result of crowdfunding a few years ago. The RHRA spends donations carefully and during the pandemic, it has spent very little while maintaining online meetings and events and a few in-person events when it was safe. Some highlights:
- $825 on the first edition of the Regal Heights Review, including printing and distribution
- $150 for Pumpkin Carving
- $120 for equipment for the Maple Syrup project
We also received $40 in donations through the website, regalheights.ca.
|April 2022||May 2022|
|Street Sale Fund||$192||$192|
10 – Other Business
Richard Baker, a past chair of the RHRA, congratulated John and the executive on the successes of the association over the past decade. He noted that the RHRA has gone into hibernation in the past but has come back stronger.
Harry Lay gave a moving and funny tribute to John for his service as Chair over the past decade.
- He noted that John has been involved in a number of initiatives both as a member of the RHRA and as a regular resident. Some highlights:
- 2016 – John and his wife Susan were heavily involved in an initiative to sponsor two Syrian refugee families and find them housing.
- 2017 – John hosted the Tree for Me campaign, working with that private organization to plant more trees in Regal Heights. It resulted in 83 new trees in the neighbourhood.
- 2018-19 – He and many members of the executive, working outside the RHRA, helped in the fight against a plan to redevelop a number of properties along Springmount Ave. which would have involved significant change to the unique topography in the area.
- Harry remarked on John’s steady and constant ability to reach out to people and work with everyone to make decisions by consensus.
The next meeting of the RHRA is planned for the second Tuesday in September. Due to the transitions in leadership underway. That meeting will be focused on fining and nominating new leadership for the association. If you are interested in stepping up to ensure that all these great events and activities keep contributing to what a great neighbourhood this is, please reach out to us over the summer! email@example.com