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Motorhead Beachhead

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The Beaches vs. The Beach is not the only battle on the beach in Toronto — a coalition of Parkdale community groups is trying to stop a waterfront parking lot from going in near the historic and soon-to-be-reopened Palais Royale. They produced the above map graphic, as well as these “before” and “after” pictures of the area in question (never mess with community groups armed with Photoshop).

John Lorinc had a piece in Saturday’s Globe Toronto section on the issue. From his article:

Heading into a summer when tens of thousands are expected to flock to a brand-new watercourse for the world championship dragon boat races, neighbourhood residents are bracing for huge crowds. The western beaches are about to roar back to life. But for reasons that mystify area residents, city officials are simultaneously preparing to hive off portions of scarce waterfront land for a 120-space parking lot and a pair of fenced-off boat storage areas proposed for one of the area’s few remaining natural beaches.

Those moves have outraged Parkdale residents who frequent the area and are demanding to know why the local councillor, Sylvia Watson, seems to have signed off on what they call a creeping privatization of the lakeshore.

The freeway and railway corridor makes it easy to forget how close Parkdale is to the waterfront. The community coalition also says that the private Boulevard Club and Toronto Sail & Canoe Club are interested in leasing 300 feet of currently accessible beach that “would be fenced off from public use.” If you wish you can let the Councillor know your feelings on this by calling her office ( 416-392-7919) or by email. For those interested in this, there is a public meeting tonight and Councillor Watson will be present (her position can be found on her website):

  • Public Meeting
  • Monday, April 24
  • 7:00PM
  • Palais Royal (1601 Lakeshore)

No word on where to park for the meeting. Also check next week’s Eye Weekly Stroll column for more on the Palais Royal area.



  1. From Lorinc’s article:

    “While the company says it intends to work around the trees, using environmentally friendly paving materials, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has told the city that it is “very concerned” about the lot. City officials haven’t responded to residents’ expressed concern, but deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, Toronto’s tree advocate, says he “was extremely nervous about this proposal,” which he describes as a “work in progress.”

    Environmentally friendly paving materials?!! Work around the trees? As Spacing’s urban arborist Todd Irvine has mentioned many times, tree roots grow close to the surface and can span out up to two times the height of a tree (did I get that right?). If people are actually flocking to the Royal in their cars most nights, the parking spaces would have to be pretty far out from the trees so as not to cause damage. Based on the photos, this doesn’t seem possible. Pavement, even if it is environmentally friendly, would prevent a lot of water from reaching the tree roots. Pavement covered in cars would make it even harder.

    Reviving the Palais Royal without a parking lot would have been a good way for the city and the developer to show some creativity, to prove that it’s possible to have a successful business without parking. What about transit? What about forcing people to take a taxi? Or ride a bike? Or walk? The Palais Royale will be offering an experience that other venues in Toronto can’t. It’s a historic building on the waterfront surrounded by beautiful park space. People will find a way to get there.

    I admit, this is the first I’ve heard of this, and I’d like to learn more, but right now, this proposal makes me sad. What is the city thinking?

  2. No transit – no alternative to the car. The problem with this proposal is that it *accepts* a position of no transit in that area, especially on Sunday (no Route 80 then) which is untenable if it is proposed to bring 1,000 people and 450 cars just for this one venue (excluding staff).

    I’ve emailed Sylvia Watson asking her to consider using the word “transit” somewhere in her lengthy website post.

  3. No one going to Palais Royale will take transit. There’s no viable way to get there, as no one with any reasonable disposable income (aka actual customers) will ever take the bus, given the ridiculous time involved in using transit and the horridness of TTC buses.

    On forcing people to walk. From where? Do you know what part of Toronto you’re talking about? How wonderfully horrible and far apart the bridges over QEW and Lakeshore are, how they don’t go anywhere?

    City of Toronto should privatise all beaches, as that is the only way anyone will actually take care of them. You’ll notice that the city’s private clubs take care of their facilities and pour bundles of money into them while socialists like yourselves ensure that the city can’t take care of itself due to ridiculous social spending, idiotic bylaws wrt pesticides, and egregious union wages.

  4. sure – i’d like to see you walking over that bridge on a cold day in january in high heels and a wedding dress!

  5. To the comment by “Hey”: there are lots of people with great disposable incomes who walk and take TTC. As well as disposable incomes, they also have imagination and therefore are able to envisage other possible solutions such as shuttling people from access points a la IKEA Etobicoke, or parking at St. Joe’s hospital, or parking on the Lakeshore Boulevard itself (meridian in the middle can hold 300 – 400 cars). The club scene in downtown T.O does just fine with all the 905-ers who come in to party, and downtown Toronto has a glum parking situation most times as well. Anything is possible.


    Councillor Sylvia Watson, Ward 14, Parkdale/Highpark Wants a New 120 Car, Gravel, Parking Lot Under the Willows, in a Green Lake Shore Park, in the Western Beaches of Toronto.

    The PALAIS ROYALE PARKING LOT is being constructed at NO cost to the tax payer. These lucky cars will be parked in the dappled light of 100 year old Willow Trees at no cost to the tax payer!

    PEGASAS GROUP, operated by TERRY TSANIOS, the leasee, is paying for everything — there is NO Cost to the Taxpayer. WE ARE GETTING A GRAVEL PARKING LOT FOR FREE !!!

    THE COUNCILLOR TRIED TO HIDE THE PARKING LOT FROM HER COMMUNITY. Ward 14 Parkdale/Highpark should reprimand our Councillor for her strong and consistent support of such Poor Urban Planning.


    If we can put a man on the moon we can figure out how to park cars in the meridian between the east- and west-bound lanes of Lakeshore Blvd. We want the Palais Royale to do well, but not by destroying a 4.5 acre green space, populated by 100 year old willows. The spirit of JANE JACOBS is alive in our parks.

    more info:

  7. The gravel parking lot is a really bad plan. It is bad for Toronto. We should not be putting a new parking lot on our remaining green lake shore. This is an embarrassment. We can do better. Sylvia Watson, the councillor, is in the developers pocket. We have seen it all before, there is an election coming and she will have to answer to her constituents.

    Please sign this petition.

    sheri wildhagen

  8. So take a taxi if you don’t want to walk over a bridge. I’m stunned by the arrogance of people willing to pave over of an area so important to me and others, so that they won’t be inconvienced on a Saturday night by walking an extra 300 feet.

    Boohoo. It’s cold. Get your husband to drop you off and park farther away then. There are dozens of ways you can get there that don’t involve putting yet another parking lot, in a sacred area of all places!

  9. Terry Tsianos the CEO of Pegasus Corp. is paying for Parkdale’s exciting new gravel parking lot by the lake. He is also President of This was an online gambling site. This was an active website untile last week. It was suddenly been taken down.

    Keep up the pressure. Call and email Mayor Miller before he embarrasses himself.

    Call Chris Phibbs asap! Tell the Mayor to do the right thing.

    Chris Phibbs
    Senior Advisor to
    Mayor David Miller

    Stop the


  10. Email Mayor David Miller and say you won’t stand for him giving away a beach used by the poor and giving it to expensive private clubs!

    Hands Off Our Beach !! Press Release

    For Immediate Release ……….. Sunday, April 30, 2006

    The Parkdale Tenants Association presents:

    Picnic & Rally

    When: Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at Noon
    Where:Dowling Beach, between the Boulevard Club and the Toronto Sail and Canoe Club
    (at the foot of Dowling Ave. and Lakeshore Blvd.)

    Two of Toronto’s ritziest private clubs want to fence off a big chunk of Parkdale’s
    Dowling Beach for the exclusive use of its members with the support of Mayor David Miller.

    The Parkdale Tenants Association (PTA) is allying the community to block the Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club and the Boulevard Club from taking away Parkdale’s only public beach from Parkdale’s low income tenants.

    Even though the Boulevard Club now has withdrawn its request to expand into Dowling Beach “at this time”, the PTA will continue to hold its community picnic and rally on May 2 at noon.

    This is to send a message to the City that the Beach belongs to everyone.

    A press conference will be held on the beach at 12:15 PM

    Free Food & Music.

    — 30 —

    For more info: Bart Poesiat (416) 531-2411, ext. 250
    Bart Poesiat
    Community Legal Worker
    Parkdale Community Legal Services

  11. I have just read this website set up by a few people who live in the Parkdale area about the waterfront. I have been interested in this gross incitement of local residents by what started off as two very hostile and aggresive people who misinterpreted and jumped to conclusions from a meeting held at one of the clubs.

    This small area of beach in the last 15 years I have used this area has never been used in the true sense of the word. I am down at least four times a week, paddling along the shore, and at any time of day/week/season ! I see a few dog walkers, and the most regular is the couple in their tent with the pimp yelling at his girlfriend for not having come back with enough money…. Oh yeah, sure the residents are down there !!

    As for them being proud of the fact they are poor (which is a disfavour to the truly poor), I shall put forward that I do not own a car as I can’t afford one, but ride my bike everywhere for transportation. I am also on a small disability pension due to my multiple sclerosis, and do not consider the TSCC an exclusive club !! These retirees/sailors are very kind and welcoming people to all who wish to become members for a low annual fee and who own some kind of boat ….
    They also work very hard in enrolling new membership and to pass their knowledge of boats and sailing on to childrens and youth programs….

    This small self interest group – I don’t know what their agenda is – is inciting hostile unrest in the area towards people who are also residents but are doing peaceful and good things for the area….Please stop this stupidity….

  12. I have been a senior member of the Toronto Sailing and Canoe club for the past 6 years. Our club is the most affordable access to the lake in the whole city. To keep our 20 foot keel boat at the club costs half of what it costs to insure a car.

    Please join our club and rediscover the lakeshore. We have a great bar and a social membership is only $50 a year.

    The proposal to expand our boundries and fence off public land is bogus and hostile. It is a land grab. It is not supported by the majority of the TSCC memebrship. Our club does not need the land. We already lease 3.5 acres of public land from the city .

    Yankee beach, as it is refered to by locals has always been known as Parkdales public swimming beach. It is a lovely, secluded beach. It should continue to remain public, and the water should be made swimmable again.

    Sheri Wildhagen

  13. Sheri, thanks for you comments. I had no idea it was so cheap. Thanks for the “other perspective”…it almost makes me want to join. Here’s a comment that just came in on the toronto urban forum (not the Sailing club specifically — thing is, most people just assume it’s all the same — so if this isn’t true, the club needs to make some PR efforts):

    “I actually think the Boulevard Club should be shut down. They are extremely unfriendly neighbours to passers-by on the waterfront, with their big No Trespassing signs and their ugly fences, usually covered in plastic. I’d like to see their taxes be assessed at the same rate that would be charged for waterfront condos, so as to put them out of business.

    I’m not in favour of private use of waterfront land, and I think the Boulevard Club is one of the worst offenders.”

  14. Tax assesments all around then!
    What a great idea. If the Palais Royal and the private clubs paid a comparable rate to what I pay for my home (over $4500 a year for a property that cost me $325.000) maybe the landscape of the west beaches would look a lot more natural.
    Hey, if we charge for the parking can we lower my property taxes?

  15. Is there any new news as to what is going on?