Art consultation

Metrolinx is asking for your advice on the street art they will install along the noise wall on Lawrence near the Weston GO station.

They will have a community consultation on Wednesday, April 28, from 6–8:00 p.m at the York West Active Living Centre, 1901 Weston Rd. They will also allow online feedback between April 29 and May 6.

20150410_Weston_Art_Meeting copy

Robbery arrest

The police arrested a man on April 2 for robbing a Weston bank in March. On March 11, the Adrian Milligan, 20, is alleged to have robbed a bank in the Weston Road and Lawrence area. The robber used a note saying he was armed. Nobody was injured.

Milligan was charged with robbery and wearing a disguise.

P&M’s turns 40!

P&M’s restaurant celebrated its 40th birthday this week. Your humble correspondent has heard that they may be able to celebrate twice in a month: rumour is the new space opens on the 4th of May.

40 years ago today George Kalamaris Sr. opened the doors to P&M in the heart of Weston. It was his vision and hard work that set this diner on the road to success. Although he is not with us today, he would be proud to see his little restaurant flourish beyond expectations under Frank (son), Niki (daughter in law), and Mary (daughter).

Conservatives nominate forehead

The  Conservative Party of Canada has put James Robinson forward as its next candidate in York South—Weston. It seems that the party has abandoned any pretense that they might actually win.

If the candidate’s website is to be believed,

Whether fighting for the disenfrachised [sic] or mentoring our leaders of tomorrow, James Robinson is the right choice for York South-[sic]Weston …. James is a long time [sic] advocate for all the people of York South-Weston, tirelessly working for all citizens no matter what concerns them or what effects [sic] York South-Weston. James has worked intensely with youth and has counseled [sic] many residents on a broad range of subjects and problems, always treating people with the respect they deserve.

Ohdear

 

The party cannot, it seems, afford a copy editor (to advocate for longer time is an unusual position even for the PCs, and, really, could they not put forward someone who can spell the name of the riding right? It’s an em-dash, not two hyphens, and certainly not one). Nor is a photographer or web designer within reach—the most prominent part of the page is a photograph of of the candidate’s forehead.

Your humble correspondent has not heard of Robinson, perhaps because Robinson lives in Whitby. I’m not saying that the bit about him being a local advocate is untrue—I have no parliamentary privilege, after all—but I will say that I’ve been paying pretty close attention riding news for close to five years, and we’ve not yet crossed paths.

Modi2?The riding association also posted some pictures of him that said he was at a meeting Indian Prime Minister Modi, the effect of which was to show just how far Robinson was from actually meeting him. There are lots of pictures of hands, crowds, and people who are emphatically not Modi.

YHC is not pleased. I am allergic to every political party, and the Conservatives give me anaphylaxis. But I am doubly displeased by lame-Modiduck, half-assed efforts. The Conservative candidate in the last election did not even campaign. The sum of her efforts was to put a sign on an abandoned house on Weston Road. She did not even collect the sign, and it remains.

This does us all a disservice. It wastes time, and money, and votes. But those are nearly irrelevant compared to the true cost: accountability. Conservatives are not (always) fools, so when they do not mount a credible candidate we all lose the chance to hear our aspiring leaders held to account from the perspective of the right.

Should you wish to meet the aspirant in person, James Robinson will be having a meet and greet on April 24 at 30 Gordon MacKay Rd. He will address the audience at 8 pm.

30 Storey tower concerns residents

There’s some good news and bad in the latest development proposal unveiled in last week’s information meeting hosted by Councillor Frances Nunziata. Well over 100 people packed the York West Active Living Centre where terms such as podium as it refers to the base of a tall tower and Woonerf were tossed around.

Since the move of Weston GO Station south of Lawrence, the parking lot has remained the home of Weston Farmers Market but is a bit of an eyesore and has lost its primary function. Over the last few years, residents have been involved in brainstorming the future of Weston and responding to subsequent ideas brought forward by developers and the city.

The Good

People power in Weston pushed the addition of a stop along the UP Express line. From that one act has come political respect for Weston residents, a commitment from politicians to spend money, quality planning for the future that involves residents and the unavoidable attention of developers who want a piece of the action. A business plan has been approved by the city for the development of land in the centre of Weston.

Lands to be developed not only include the old GO Station parking lot but the recently expropriated adjacent vacant land. Tied in with this will be an agreement with the owners of 35 King Street (late lamented home of Andrew McLean), Artscape and the City. The betting is that 26 subsidized living / work spaces plus creative programming and outdoor public space will encourage businesses and institutions to invest in Weston. Artscape will be given a lease to run the spaces for 50 years.

There will still be outdoor space for the Farmers Market which has been a diminished attraction in recent years, losing both customers and vendors. Hopefully the new digs will boost attendance.

A lot of ideas from the charette are still alive and the city feels that creating high quality public spaces is important as people walk through Weston to the UP Express. This pleasant environment will encourage them to linger and support local businesses.

place

The layout of the proposal – the footbridge and rail tracks are at the top right. Artists’ accommodations (brown) are along two sides of the existing building to the left. The original tower footprint is the dotted line.

 

place

The new tower footprint is the small blue square. The Farmers Market will be located near the footbridge ramp (stalls are dark red). Parking spaces for the Farmers Market will ease the parking on Weston Road at other times.

The Bad

Crowning the whole development like a single birthday candle will be a 30-storey residential rental tower. Apparently this kind of height is needed to make enough money for the developer the project worth while. Responding to a resident’s question, Rockport Group C.E.O. Jack Winberg, stated that a condominium development instead of a rental building would not sell in the current market. When asked if there is another tower of similar height in the locality, he mentioned the co-op building at 2100 Weston Road (it’s closer to 20 storeys).

The tower.

The tower.

As a sidenote, Mr Winberg’s company built Scarlett Heights retirement home along Lawrence and handily smacked down residents’ objections when the development was inevitably taken to the OMB.

The not so bad.

Chief City Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat mentioned that the original tower proposal was wider and had no podium. The latest version will have less of a shadow and a podium cuts down on the wind that tall buildings generate.

What Now?

There will be further opportunities to have input on this project and others but it is up to every Weston resident to get involved, attend consultation meetings and ask questions. Community input and the hard work of people and groups such as the Weston Village Residents’ Association have resulted in good things happening but vigilance will be needed to make sure that developers don’t cut corners or maximize their profits at the cost of a liveable community that we can all be proud of.

Metrolinx kills resident’s tree, behaves poorly

Last week, a boor hired by Metrolinx killed a 130-year-old tree without the landowner’s permission. The tree was limbed, and is “likely too damaged to save”.

 

The tree was along the route of the UP Express, and its killing shows insensitivity to local sentiment. Mount Dennis residents have been begging Metrolinx for years to limit the felling of trees along the route, and Metrolinx has been zealous in “clear-cutting” trees along the corridor—cutting back as much as 8 metres from the track. According to the Star, “Metrolinx officials say they plan to clear the entire 20-kilometre corridor from property line to property line.”

Police were called and they prevented the complete destruction of the tree, although no charges were laid. 

Metrolinx has planned a meeting with the affected residents and says the contractor has been “reminded of our policies”. 

 

InsideToronto on cultural hub

InsideToronto has an in-depth article on the history and future of the proposed John Street cultural hub:

While Weston is in desperate need of revitalization, Nunziata said, the relocation of the Weston GO station to south of Lawrence Avenue created a parking lot surplus for the city-owned Toronto Parking Authority, which created an opportunity for this public-private project.

With the addition of the new UP Express stop at the Weston GO station, there is an opportunity to attract new developers and businesses to the area. But, she said, those businesses need an incentive.

“You need someone to come in with a vision to attract other businesses to the area,” she said, which the cultural hub could do. “Hopefully, that will kick off new businesses along Weston Road and bring in a lot of people to Weston.”