The “Claxmount Area Ratepayers Association” was formed in 1998 to fight Shell’s zoning application to add a convenience store to the gas station at Claxton and Bathurst.
Toby Ciglen was our first President. Directors and Officers included Howard Katz, Marvin Malamed, Gordon Ciglen, Rajiv Grover, Myrna Bazsay and Dragi Zekavica.
We represented the neighbourhood in initial talks with Shell. When it became clear that Shell’s vision was at odds with ours, we approached Councillor Mihevc, who was able to get funding from the City for legal, planning and traffic planning assistance in our fight.
We also raised funds from our neighbours in order to hire a zoning/planning consultant , Sara Clodman. We represented the neighbourhood at the Committee of Adjustments hearing in late 1998.
The decision at that hearing was entirely in Shell’s favour, so we lodged an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board at the beginning of 1999.
After much preparation and homework (most notably a scale model of the proposed gas station and surrounding buildings by Jon Soules, which demonstrated the impact of Shell’s proposal on the neighbourhood), we attended the OMB hearing in mid-1999.
The OMB’s decision preserved the zoning limits on Retail stores on Bathurst Street, and prevented further automobile-related strip mall development.
CARA represented the neighbourhood for Shell’s site plan approvals. We requested modifications to the canopy lighting to minimize glare, and made recommendations with respect to the proposed landscaping.
With the help of Councillor Joe Mihevc, CARA negotiated a $5,000 donation from Shell for the Connaught Gates restoration project.
In 2002, Toby Ciglen passed the torch on to Howard Katz and Jon Soules, who volunteered to lead the organization. Howard lost the coin toss, and as a result was appointed President.
Howard wanted to meet more of his neighbours, and The City had just completed restoration of the Connaught Gates at a cost of $25,000. At the Barbecue, our local historian, Terry McAuliffe, approached a number of us with the idea of restoring the lanterns that had one stood majestically atop the Connaught Gates. A small group of people shared his vision, and formed a committee to reconstruct the Connaught Gate lanterns in August 2002. The committee was made up of Terry McAuliffe, Stewart Miller, Ann Percival, Margaret McCaffery, Howard Katz and Joe Mihevc. Jon Soules joined the committee in 2003.
In January 2003, we officially changed our name from “Claxmount Area Ratepayers Association” (CARA) to “Connaught-Lonsmount Area Ratepayers Association” (CLARA)
We held our second annual Victoria Day Party. It was a great success, attended by over 200 people.
Sadly, Terry McAuliffe passed away in June. His dream to rebuild the lanterns lived on with the remaining members of the Committee. After many meetings to evaluate alternatives for the lantern design, we approved a design penned by John Garrett of Lighting Nelson and Garrett. This gave impetus to raising funds for the project. In December, fundraising for Lanterns received two important boosts. First, posters were designed and developed as incentive for donations. The posters were sponsored by Stewart Miller and his company, Ideal Printing. They were designed by graphic artist Martin Finesilver. Secondly, Heritage Toronto designated the construction of the Connaught Gate Lanterns as a “special project”, making donations tax-deductible.
Construction on lanterns began in March by Lighting Nelson & Garrett, as did our fundraising drive. In the end, we raised over $25,000 to build, install and wire up the lanterns.
The Lanterns were installed on Friday, May 21, and lit for the first time on Victoria Day (May 24), at CLARA’s 3rd Annual Barbecue and Fireworks Party.
During the January to September timeframe, CLARA played an active role in the proposed St. Clair Streetcar reconstruction initiative. Our members participated in design sessions and public information meetings. In August, we polled the neighbourhood to determine how we felt. A decisive 93% of those polled were opposed to the Dedicated Streetcar Right-of-Way.
In September, we made a deposition before City Council opposing the dedicated Streetcar Right-of-Way. Unfortunately, City Council had an agenda on this issue which did not recognize the will of the people, and in the ensuing six years, spent over $100,000,000 of our tax money building the right of way.