204 Beech Avenue, now

Thursday, 24 June 2010

I am shocked, stunned and of course saddened by the events of the last days. It is taking some time for me to process it. The following is a letter written to Sandra Bussin's office and Cc'd to me by another Beach resident and acquaintance of ours. Given that I've been at a loss for words, I asked for and received his permission to quote. It pretty much reflects my feelings....albeit in a very polite way.

"I think it is abhorrent that our planning process leads to/permits that the destruction of the very features on this building that are prized, will allow Mr. Teehan to destroy one more irreplaceable piece of the Beach's heritage.
I hope he comes to realize that he is helping to destroy part of the character he finds attractive about the area he has chosen to live in.
Frankly, given his tactics from the beginning, he deserves any animosity he and his family will receive for the lack of respect they have shown their neighbours and their neighbourhood."
Rob Eley
Beach Resident

Yes. Abhorrent. And Teehan has the resource$ he needed to expedite his plans.
Another quote.......
"....surprised and alarmed that the kind of tactics one used to think were limited to profit-oriented developers are now being used by home owners against the consensus in their communities..."

Well, it is what one would expect from someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

What's happening is quite simply wrong, on many counts.
I can only hope that it will be (another?) wake up call...and that it will help to change the system/process in such a way as to prevent something like this from happening again.

I would like to personally acknowledge my appreciation of all those who believe in what is right, and who stood their ground.Many whose names I don't and will never know...many whose names I've come to know, and of course those people I do know.
It is good to know you're out there.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Having read Jim Graham's comments on his blog (Graham on Graham), I will address a couple of things directed at me and the country I live in.
You say my "anger is misplaced", and that our parents "had the opportunity" to have 204 Beech designated a Heritage property. I can only imagine that you have a more recent time frame in mind, and it is off. At the time our parents sold the house, heritage wasn't an issue, so having to be "proactive" was also not an issue. Now the house is threatened. It is in the many years since our parents sold that the buildings that represent the history of the Beach are one by one being whittled away. Taken individually, each step may seem of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, the consequence is much greater and not good....that is if one truly appreciates the history of a neighbourhood as I did and still do. That is where my anger comes into it. Not having lived there for some time, I can look at the bigger picture. And I don't like what I see happening.

Secondly, though I am loath to quote you on the following, I must....
You say "Perhaps in Germany there is uniformity of thought, and one can expect without saying so that the buyer of a house will share one's exact tastes and viewpoints. However in Canada, we have diversity. Of race, language, religion and taste"..etc
My mind is spinning. Thankfully my man (a German) has a wonderful sense of humour. His quick response with a laugh was, "is this guy aware that the Third Reich ended long ago??"

To suggest that Germany, a country with over 80 million people, doesn't have diversity in all the forms you mentioned, and more..is simply ignorant, in the true sense of the word.

As for "uniformity of thought"?
Well, your stereotyping completely contradicts the liberal mentality that you so want to project.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

I have just finished watching all 6 videos of the Sandra Bussin information meeting, which took place a few evenings ago. Here is the link, just in case you haven’t seen the whole thing…

It’s important to see it all, not just the snippet available on Open File.

Ms. Bussin conducted herself in the only way one with class could conduct oneself. She exercised a great deal of patience. She was faced with a group that resembled a lynch mob, and remained calm, cool and collected. The hostile, rude bullying tactics used by Teehan and his followers only served to undermine any rational discussion.

The Teehans, et al will not accept that one can feel compassion and sympathy for their situation, while at the same time wanting to preserve a house that characterizes a particular neighbourhood. Instead, they have distorted the issue, suggesting that those against the demolition are disgusting, selfish, insensitive, despicable human beings. Oh, and let’s not forget fascists and sad sociopaths.

These are just a few of the choice comments that were sent to this blog a few weeks ago.

Interesting that the very people at whom these accusations have been hurled, have never in the slightest displayed such a disturbing mentality as is present in their accusers.
With the exception of one unfortunate quote (born of anger) by Ms. Brown, we remain non aggressive, quietly focused on the real issue, with the hopes that a solution will be found through use of the proper channels. Perhaps this is too passive.

No question Teehan is a master of marketing and an “award winning web designer”, and he deserves every bit of success in his business. However, it is unsettling and distasteful, how he’s managed to manipulate people and the situation to his advantage through his expert use of the social media.

I once again encourage those who are in support of finding a reasonable solution without the razing of 204 Beech to, without fear of intimidation, make their voices heard in the right places.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The following is not written by me, it is an email I rec'd.
The author chooses to remain anonymous at this time.

204 Beech Avenue

There are only a few houses on any Beach street that 'establish' the image we have of this unique area in the city, and 204 Beech is definitely one of them. The many more mundane buildings here just 'go along for the ride', the character of the place has been established - they serve as the background, neither adding to or detracting from that character.

I owned 209 Beech across the road for a time, and used the small enclosed porch above its entrance as a studio. While I was there, I remember painting a small watercolour of the view from it of 204 and its neighbours. It is not nearly as good as my memory of it, but it does show 204 in context: all three interesting houses, but 204 clearly the more historic and interesting.

While I have sincere sympathy for the circumstances the Teehan's face, the only thing I can see about the site that recommends it for their accessible house design is the width of the lot - level access is available only from the back. They may, of course, also be attracted to this site by other attributes like the setting, a lovely tree-lined street, surrounded by the sort of houses that give the neighbourhood (that they have chosen as their own) its character!

I am an architect and have worked in Toronto for a progressive design-oriented firm since 1974.

I like modernist buildings - I do them! That does not mean that I believe the context of a building should not influence/inspire its design, or that we shouldn't treasure and maintain the best of our architectural heritage.

Geoff Teehan said on his website that they had considered re-renovating their Elmer house to make it accessible, but chose not to because that would be such a 'waste'. However nice the house, and the design and quality of the work they put into it, I don't believe it is one the 'character' houses in the Beach. To replace 204 with a modern building - completely out of character with its context - would be more than a significantly greater waste.

I hope you are successful in preventing the destruction of your old home, and I hope the 'spectre' of a heritage designation only serves to increase the value of the house, allowing the Teehan's to find a more appropriate site in the area to build a house that suits their needs.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Good Morning;

A few thoughts for today.
1. A Jim Graham says (in the comments in the National Post) "...the "community" had decided that it was not a heritage property...." In fact, the "community" had not'decided' anything. There was no need. The house was occupied and well cared for. It was only when the house was threatened with complete demolition - a plan the "community" learned about from Mt. Teehan's website, and an article in The Star -that the thought of a heritage designation arose.
2. To see a great example of what has been done with a designated house in the neighbourhood, check out 93 Balsam Ave.


Friday, 21 May 2010

I have expressed my opinion, as is my right to do so. I did not start a "campaign against" the Teehans, or their building of a new home that they've every right to have. I've expressed my opinion regarding the saving of 204 Beech, as is my right to do so. I've never personally, or publically, verbally attacked the Teehans. I have looked for others who share my opinion not based on sentimentality...as is my right to so.
Many exist.
Others have missed the above points..intentionally, or not.
It is noteworthy on more than one count what a small army of Tweeters in their imaginary war can accomplish in a very short time, almost the blink of an eye. Closely following and then showing support for their leader is one. Realistic or unrealistic results of a poll, another. Many comments were deleted yesterday because of their personally offensive, distasteful, insulting and intimidating nature.
Nevertheless, I thank you for all of them! Though not exactly enlightening, they were very revealing.Perhaps yet another accomplishment.

As it appears that the blog has provided a forum for a verbal battle that can only cause undue stress to some, I will soon be removing it. Undue stress was never the intention.

Making sure my voice was heard in the matter, was.
And my opinion remains the same.

Friday, 14 May 2010

"....an excellent example of early Beach architecture...."

Hi all,
A little something to keep in mind, when you scroll down, read the Criteria, and possibly partake in the poll.
Here is what a trip to the Toronto Archives uncovered;
204 Beech was not built in the '20s as we'd thought. It was built circa 1909. And was, in fact, one of the very first houses on the street.
Happy Belated 100th Birthday, 204. Human lives have come and gone, but thanks to the TLC and respect with which you've been treated over the years...you're still standing proud and healthy, one representative aspect of why people flocked to the Beaches in the first place. How ironic that you should be taken down.

Another artist's rendition

Another artist's rendition
Hi folks,

Please read the following. I have highlighted the criteria we think apply.




1. (1) The criteria set out in subsection (2) are prescribed for the purposes of clause 29 (1) (a) of the Act. O. Reg. 9/06, s. 1 (1).

(2) A property may be designated under section 29 of the Act if it meets one or more of the following criteria for determining whether it is of cultural heritage value or interest:

1. The property has design value or physical value because it,

i. is a rare, unique, representative or early example of a style, type, expression, material or construction method,

ii. displays a high degree of craftsmanship or artistic merit, or

iii. demonstrates a high degree of technical or scientific achievement.

2. The property has historical value or associative value because it,

i. has direct associations with a theme, event, belief, person, activity, organization or institution that is significant to a community,

ii. yields, or has the potential to yield, information that contributes to an understanding of a community or culture, or

iii. demonstrates or reflects the work or ideas of an architect, artist, builder, designer or theorist who is significant to a community.

3. The property has contextual value because it,

i. is important in defining, maintaining or supporting the character of an area,

ii. is physically, functionally, visually or historically linked to its surroundings, or

iii. is a landmark. O. Reg. 9/06, s. 1 (2).