Toronto’s historically-exclusive Leaside neighbourhood, beloved for its Bayview strip, many a small business, and an overall elegant vibe, is becoming more accessible – and arguably, more desirable – thanks to a handful of shiny new condo developments and the anticipated Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) line.
In the not-too-distant future, the once-isolated Leaside neighbourhood – a characteristic that’s the result of its longtime position off the subway line – will suddenly become highly accessible, and is expected to experience a significant population growth, not to mention a popularity-boost, too. While the Crosstown has admittedly created its fair share of construction woes in recent years, the short-term pain promises to be well worth the long-term gain for residents, as the projected influx of both visitors and inhabitants to the area will only further develop the neighbourhood’s prosperity and poise.
Central to the family-filled and tree-lined Leaside neighbourhood, the Bayview retail channel – which extends from roughly Davisville Avenue to just south of Eglinton Avenue – is surrounded by residential streets and no shortage of breezy green space. The latter is a reflection of Leaside’s heritage and designation as a “garden city” – a method of urban planning whereby self-contained communities are surrounded by greenbelts. The LRT will breathe new life into the beloved Bayview strip, which has been riddled with shuttered storefronts in recent years – the by-product of gentrification and increasing commercial real estate costs (not to mention a certain pandemic).
“Completion of the LRT will have two significant, and beneficial, impacts on Bayview Leaside businesses,” says Trae Zammit, chair of the Leaside-Bayview Business Improvement Association (BIA) and owner of longtime Bayview shop The Smokin’ Cigar. “First, since we’re a short walk south of Eglinton, the LRT will greatly enhance accessibility to the area via public transit. Second, the likely resulting increase in residential density on Eglinton Avenue will provide more potential customers and clients for our retailers, restaurants, and personal service establishments.”
While Leaside is already home to convenient big-box staples like Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Best Buy, and more at SmartCentres Leaside at Eglinton and Laird, you’ll also find no shortage of family-owned mom and pop businesses along Bayview Avenue – many of which have been neighbourhood staples for decades. Recent years have also seen the arrival of trendy newcomers (businesses that reflect a demographic of young professionals with dollars to drop) like the ever-popular F45 Training gym and Blo Blow Dry Lounge.
Of course, the Crosstown will also ensure easy access to other parts of Toronto, and beyond, for those seeking a change of scenery from time to time. The future Laird Station will feature retail space, on-street connections to TTC buses, and some 60 outdoor bicycle parking spaces. Just down the street, the future Leaside Station will include two station entrances, on-street TTC bus connections, another 60 outdoor bicycle parking spaces, as well as retail space and an expanded plaza at the southeast entrance that provides a connection to the adjacent Howard Talbot Park.
“With the ability to quickly and efficiently move people across almost the entire width of the city, Eglinton Crosstown will be an exciting addition to the TTC’s portfolio of integrated services,” says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. “We look forward to working with Metrolinx to provide this new, seamless transit experience.”
The new transit system and urban development (i.e. condos) go hand-in-hand in Leaside. “When open, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will create more convenient and accessible neighbourhoods right across Eglinton,” says Paul Manhire, Vice President of Eglinton LRT. “In the Leaside neighbourhood, the LRT will make everything easier whether dining in the Upper Village, or shopping in the Golden Mile or living in Forest Hill. With the city expanding and thriving at a fast pace, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will move fast along with it, connecting communities along the way.”
One such community is the highly-anticipated Upper East Village master-planned community. Construction is currently underway on the luxury Camrost Felcorp Inc. project, which will feature spacious condos and townhomes in a convenient and leafy enclave at Brentcliffe Road and Eglinton Avenue East – located just steps from the soon-to-be-completed Eglinton Crosstown LRT Laird station.