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If You Live in the Beaches, Don't Complain About the Noise

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While one can be sympathetic with Kate Wise's desire to live quietly and peacefully in her condo on the boardwalk off Toronto's Woodbine beach, it's also puzzling why she chose to live where it was obvious people would gather in summer.

A column by the resolute Sue-Ann Levy outlined Wise's concerns that weekends are comprised of a series of events involving music (of sorts) and endless beach volleyball games that attract large and boisterous crowds.

According to Levy, Wise has to retreat to friends' places out of Toronto to escape the noise and activities of the weekends.

Wise blames city council for issuing permits for events, with little consideration for the well-being of local residents. There are even tales involving a lack of washrooms, which can't be pleasant for local residents -- or for the individuals who seek washrooms that apparently don't exist for the throngs that infest the beaches.

So why do Wise -- and others who are upset -- choose to live there?

Over the years, Toronto has been casual about its waterfront. Much of it has been taken over by industrial concerns. Toronto showed none of the imagination and innovation that, say, Chicago did in preserving its waterfront on Lake Michigan.

The beaches area, as well as parts of Toronto Island, are about the only places where city people can go to enjoy summer by the lake.

And while noisy and busy on these humid summer days, the beaches are mostly cheerful and happy places, where people can enjoy the lake and sand and do what people do in summer.

Unlike some parts of the city on weekends, there is no gunfire, no threat of gangs taking pot shots; instead, there are people enjoying a barbecue or a wedding function. Noise, maybe, but mostly orderly, civilized, even friendly.

Living on the boardwalk is not living on your own private beach. Even having a boardwalk guarantees that.

The beaches district of Toronto is one of the jewels of the city. There are an abundant amount of small restaurants and activities, and people who enjoy the ambience of the area. In the summer they have to share the beachfront, and most know and accept that.

If city council started banning events or trying to discourage citizens from enjoying parts of the waterfront that still exist, it would cause another sort of reaction.

Perhaps more public washrooms should be built, especially if people like Wise, and local resident Don Quinlan, are understandably upset at women relieving themselves on the lawns, as described by Levy.

But just as we can talk about the weather without having the power to change it, so people will continue coming to the beaches regardless of dismay by those who live there and want solitude or privacy.

That's just the way it is.

Of course, commercial enterprises like restaurants and food outlets should be controlled, and that can be difficult as more people discover and use the beaches. Don't let it get out of hand, as it's always easier to prevent or control something than to eliminate it once it's already established.

Right now, local folks are bracing themselves for August 24 when something called Aloha Toronto is scheduled to hold what it expects to be "Toronto's biggest beach party" -- supposedly to raise money for Sick Kids Hospital.

Hmm. One wonders about that . . . . Any excuse for a party.