HRRH The City may own part of the land – a perspective

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The Church Street site of Humber River Regional Hospital is closing in October and as Adam has pointed out in several articles, the land will be up for grabs. Many residents of Weston breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that benefactors who donated land for a hospital in Weston had made a condition of their donation that the land must always be used as a hospital. The donation was made to the town of Weston, whose successor is the City of Toronto. It’s not the whole site as the hospital has grown since 1948 but 1.2 acres (out of 11.5) is enough of a chunk to make development more challenging.

The Humber River Regional Hospital Site. From Google.ca

The Humber River Regional Hospital site.
From Google.ca

Much speculation has occurred over what precisely should happen to the land. Recognizing that we live in a big city where real estate is expensive and development almost inevitable, what will happen to the site? Will there be open space? What kind of housing will be built? Will housing match that in the neighbourhood or will there be townhouse and high-rise development? Will the covenant be honoured and what form will that take?

The tired looking entrance to the Church Street site.

The entrance to the Church Street site.

Unfortunately, ownership of land by the City did not protect the Farmers Market site from being sold off to a developer. The same fate awaits this parcel of land unless an eagle eye is kept on the process. The public needs to be informed and have input into every step and decision made along the way. No doubt there will be talk of wonderful collaborations with a developer but these will come with a cost as we found out recently with the Farmers Market site.

Apartment to be built on old houses

Well, here’s a dilemma: Would you rather have two abandoned firetraps or another Weston Road high rise?

You won’t actually get to choose. You’re getting the high rise.

The two fire traps are ages-old houses on Weston Road that have been abandoned, dilapidated, eye sores for as long as I have lived here. They are a depressing welcome to Weston for people coming off the 401; they remind me of Detroit or another failing city, too poor and too small-minded to do something about a public nuisance.Ah, history

Your humble correspondent, like everyone else, he supposes, had hoped something good would come of them, but he, like everyone else he supposes, took no action.

The Committee of Adjustment has approved variances to the city plan and will now allow construction of a 13-storey, 113-unit building. The building will be bigger and taller than is generally allowed and will not have as much parking as the rules require.

Frances Nunziata says that she and the Weston Heritage Conservation District opposed the variances, but the committee overruled them and went in favour of the developer, who will be required to give money for community benefits.

On the upside, the developer has built many other properties, some of which are in the neighbourhood, and others that have vibrant communities.

HRRH sale hits a snag

Frances Nunziata posted some really interesting information to her email circular earlier this week. The Humber River Regional Hospital remains unable to sell the old building, which will be empty starting in October. The building is unsellable because of the termsof an old deed.

This first became a problem a year ago when residents brought up the Trimbee’s deed at a meeting with hospital administrators. The Trimbees said that the land must be used for a hospital and, according to Frances Nunziata’s circular, if it is no longer needed, it must be “first offered for sale to the City for a minimal cost.”

Nunziata says “I have had ongoing meetings with the Mayor and senior management to discuss any opportunities the City may have to use the site.”

The issue will first go to the courts. The HRRH wants the hospital to be sold free and clear. The city’s lawyers will be arguing that we are entitled to the land.

Farmers Market at Crossroads

There is much discontent at the Farmers Market with some traders threatening to pull out as mentioned in Adam’s recent article.

I paid a visit to the Market last week and yesterday trying to see the place with fresh eyes. Thanks to delays in constructing the John Street pedestrian bridge, the main approach is from Weston and John. Looking along John from Weston Road, there is nothing to indicate to pedestrians that there is a market. Incidentally, when will BMO fix their clock?

Yes, the Market is in full swing!

Yes, the Market is in full swing! Click to enlarge.

It’s not just the lack of visibility that’s causing the problem. People on the Weston Village side of John Street face a long trek to the market via King Street or Lawrence Avenue. Those using the car face a fight for a parking space and once in the car, there’s the temptation to just head off to the supermarket.

Communication with traders also seems to be a problem. I was chatting to one of the Farmers Market’s largest stall operators a week last Saturday and according to him, he had heard only rumours about next year’s move. “They tell us nothing”, he lamented. The trader, who has been coming to Weston for more than 30 years, was under the impression that the temporary move was to a Lawrence Avenue location.

He claimed that some of his fellow stall operators are still considering calling it quits as they are discouraged by the prospect of being squeezed into a smaller space in the much vaunted Weston Hub, with long walks to set up stalls and then for supplies as the day goes on. He told me that he has to return to his truck several times each day to bring out fresh produce – if the truck was some distance away (as it will be once the Hub is complete), he would consider moving elsewhere.

A panoramic shot from the 'Hub' boundary fence. The Vos Farms Egg Man is on the left.

A panoramic shot from the ‘Hub’ boundary fence. The Vos Farms Egg Man is on the left. Click to enlarge.

Looking at a panoramic view of the Market it is clear that it’s a bit of a mess with trucks parked alongside rows of stalls. Markets in more upscale areas such as Wychwood Barns don’t have supply trucks as part of the mix. While Weston’s Market can be considered charmingly old-fashioned or just messy, it does make life easier for many traders. They don’t sell much in the way of produce at Wychwood – perhaps because of the difficulties caused by the separation of trucks and stalls. Incidentally, all is not sweetness at Artscape’s Wychwood Artist Studios either.

Wychwood Barns.

Wychwood Barns. Click to enlarge.

Had we been able to turn the clock back (not the one at BMO), the City’s selling the Market’s current location to a property developer now seems like a move that should have been foreseen and stopped. The land could have become Weston’s civic square and a park as well as contain the Farmers Market, Hub and a community centre. That potential has been lost forever and much of the outdoor space will now be occupied by a 30-storey rental apartment building and podium. All accomplished with the enthusiastic support of Councillor Frances Nunziata and the 106-member Weston Village Residents’ Association. As they say, those who fail to learn from mistakes of the past…

Weston's BMO branch - where time stands still.

Weston’s BMO branch – where time stands still.

There does seem to be optimism among traders that the new (but temporary) location in the GO Station parking lot south of Lawrence will allow for a bigger space with more parking and better visibility from Weston Road. If that is a success, getting them back to John Street in two or three years might prove difficult if not impossible. In the meantime, Weston BIA Chair, Masum Hossein is looking for ideas that would improve the current year’s Market and thus encourage more people to attend (the Market is operated through the Weston Business Improvement Area).

Debbie Gibson from the B.I.A. sells Farmers Market fundraising T-shirts

Debbie Gibson from the B.I.A. sells Farmers Market fundraising T-shirts

Readers are invited to give suggestions through the comments section of this article or contact Mr Hossein directly.

Suspicious fires on Weston Rd

There were three fires along Weston Road this week, at least two of them suspicious.

Police are investigating two vehicle fires on Weston Road north of Wilson. A van and a car were destroyed early Friday morning, possibly by an arsonist.

Yesterday, the fire department was called to another car on fire in an underground garage, this time at Weston and Church.

 

 

Dirty, dirty Mount Dennis

Westonians are a bunch of clean-living, family-loving faithful types, at least according to the Toronto Star’s data on the Ashley Madison breach.

Westonians spent an average of $0.32 on the website for wandering spouses. Mount Dennisons spent a shocking 34% more—fully 43¢ per person. Junctionites, however, were completely filthy. They spent more than a dollar each looking for a good time.¹

Should you, too, be perusing the database, your humble correspondent would like you to know that his email address is not [email protected], though he has had much misdirected email sent there. Mr Norman, you devil!²


¹ This is not science.

² Neither is this.

Upcoming events

Today and tomorrow, UrbanArts is hosting Cultureshock, their end-of-summer celebration.

Cultureshock

On October 7, Artscape will be hosting a can’t-miss ‘visioning‘ workshop. (Am I the only one terrified of people with ‘visions’?) They promise that this will be a chance to

discuss and develop ideas for the potential role of Weston’s new Community Cultural Hub, and the types of things that might happen there. This is an opportunity to help shape a community-based vision for the Hub, developed from the ground up. We hope that you will be able to join us, and lend your voice to the conversation.