Living in Lawrence Heights
Lawrence Heights is a low income neighbourhood managed by the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. The backbone of this community is the Lawrence Heights Area Alliance a team of volunteers comprised of local church members as well as Lawrence Heights residents. The Lawrence Heights Area Alliance has been very active in developing local Youth and Seniors programs. The Lawrence Heights Health Centre is also an integral part of this community. This centre offers a range of outreach and educational programs and includes a clinic with three doctors, a team of community development workers, two social workers and a therapist.
History of Lawrence Heights
Lawrence Heights is located on the old Mulholland farm. Henry Mulholland was one of North York’s earliest pioneers settling in this area in 1814. Mulholland’s heirs continued to live on the family farm until the 1940’s when it was sold to developers. In the early 1950’s Lawrence Heights was transformed from farmland into one of Toronto’s largest public housing developments. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation oversaw the design and building of this entire neighbourhood. John Sewell in The Shape of the City writes that Lawrence Heights was originally slated to include high-rise apartment towers. This was before Jack Brown a government official and former World War II pilot, took a reconnaissance flight over the project site, and recognized that Lawrence Heights was to close to the Downsview Airport to permit high-rise apartments within this development. The revised plan incorporated the row-houses and low-rise buildings that comprise the present day neighbourhood.
Homes in Lawrence Heights
There are approximately six thousand residents living in Lawrence Heights. All the housing is publicly owned and the rents are geared to the income of the tenants. The public housing is contained in row houses with one, two, three, and four bedroom apartments. There are also a limited number of single family five bedroom houses. Lawrence Heights two-storey apartment buildings are reserved as housing for senior citizens.
Lifestyle in Lawrence Heights
Lawrence Heights residents can walk to Lawrence Square which features national department stores as well as small independent retailers and medical and professional offices. Lawrence Square merchants participate in a retail education program for Lawrence Heights Youth, that is sponsored by the Lawrence Heights Area Alliance. Lawrence Square also hosts the annual Lawrence Heights Multi-Cultural Fair. Lawrence Plaza situated at the north-west corner of Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue includes many discount and outlet stores that attract shoppers from all over the city.
Recreation in Lawrence Heights
The Lawrence Heights Community Centre at 5 Replin Road offers a myriad of programs including Children’s Art and Dance, Children’s Martial Arts, Bell Raptorball, Instructional Basketball, Youth Afternoon Programs, Girls Basketball House Leagues, Leisure Games, Youth Dance and Music, Seniors Clubs and Aerobics. The ultra-modern Barbara Frum Public Library at 20 Covington Road features a children’s storyroom, French and multicultural collections, private study rooms, a meeting room, and an auditorium with a 150 person seating capacity. Combined with the library is a 10,000 square foot Recreation Centre with multi- purpose meeting rooms, and a kitchen/craft room.
Transportation in Lawrence Heights
The Lawrence Heights neighbourhood is well served by public transit. Bus service on Lawrence and on Wilson Avenues connect to stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. The Bathurst Street bus travels south to the Bathurst station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Motorists are approximately twenty-five minutes via Bathurst Street, from downtown. The Allen Expressway which runs through the centre of this neighbourhood is easily accessed from Lawrence Avenue West and provides a connecting route to Highway