Hub bill released: $13 million

The final tally for the Weston Cultural Hub has been released. City staff say they have a “unique funding approach”. The city, province and developer are contributing $10.2 million toward the Hub’s building costs.

In short, instead of paying fees for parks, recreation, and general community benefits, Rockport will be retaining the money for the Artscape Hub. Other money will come from the city, province, and the federal government.

When developers break density or height rules in Toronto, they into  “Section 37“. Rockport, in this case, is retaining that $1,600,000.

Other sources of money include

  • $4 million from from the feds and the province for affordable housing for the artists
  • $2 million from the sale of the parking lot
  • $1.2 million in forgone Parks and Rec development charges
  • $750,000 from Rockport
  • $500,000 uncollected for parks
  • A $500,000 grant from the Parks department

Some interesting facts are also in the report.

  • It looks to me like the live-work spaces and the Hub will not pay property tax or school levies.
  • Council earlier approved $1.6 million to expropriate 14 John Street, a long-vacant lot. Another $1 million is being set aside, I think, for compensation and remediation.

Artscape hopes to start with about  $3 million in the bank because the Hub will lose money. Rockport will contribute $1.25 million of this reserve, and Artscape is hoping to fundraise $1.75 million to cover the balance. After 15 years, the “City [may] be required to consider subsidizing operating costs”.

You and yours will be able to rent the Hub cheaply “for selected activities”, at a discount if you are part of a non-profit, or for the full rate for private events. Whatever you pay, you’ll be getting a deal, because revenues won’t cover costs. Artscape says the business plan shows them losing roughly $200,000 a year.


UPX is cutting fares

Fares have been slashed on the struggling UP Express.

Ridership has been terrible almost since opening day, in part because the fares are eye-watering: $27.50 each way. The line is losing, by my (terrible) estimation, about $100,000 a day carrying 2500 riders–far fewer than the 6700 it requires to break even on operating costs (which do not include construction costs).

Metrolinx is now offering two-for-one coupons on their website. Your humble correspondent happens to know a just a little bit about this. Coupons are one way of creating ‘price discrimination‘. Many people (like business travellers) will pay the full fare because they don’t know or care about the deal. Frugal or savvy riders, on the other hand, will invest time or ink and save some money.

This is a pretty savvy move–and I expect couponing will continue as long as the train is not full. Everybody wins.

Locals (who are more in the know) can get a cheper ride, and, since the train will run with or without these extra passengers, it is all upside for Metrolinx, too. Finally, coupons also feel a little less like a ‘traveller tax’, so visitors will likely not feel particularly ripped off.

Ski hills offer this kind of deal quite consistently to generate good will and fill empty gondolas. Locals can buy tickets in advance or at an out-of-the-way spot at a discount; they can also buy weird seasons’ passes, like all-you-can-ski Tuesdays. The hill is open anyway, after all, and an extra skier on a Tuesday night costs the mountain nothing.

Metrolinx, if it’s clever, will continue to offer deals for the same reasons. First off, and most importantly, local riders are free money: they likely would not have taken the train at the full price and are not displacing anyone. Coupons, if they are consistently available, also let locals feel a little less unwanted, a sentiment, I think, that the UP Express has struggled to dispel with all of its talk of “premium-fare business travellers”, (who, as has often been pointed out, could just take Uber).



Crime last week

Last week, there was a break-in on Rosemount.

There was also an assault, a robbery, and a shooting on or near Hickory Tree road on three successive nights. A man took himself to the hospital early Friday morning after being shot in the leg, perhaps in the park.

Crime N9 to N16

As an aside, the year-to-date shootings in Toronto give quite a good map of the fortunes of the city: shots are fired in a horseshoe surrounding the rich north-centre of the city. There have been five shootings in Weston so far this year; none has been fatal. There has been only one shooting, also non-fatal, in Mount Dennis.


Something afoot on Rosemount

A piece of Weston’s industrial history is up for sale.  30 Rosemount, which had housed Christian Bros. Restaurant Supplies since 1952, is on the market.

The sellers are asking $2.4 million and tout, among its other virtues, its potential for “Possible Residential In-Fill Development. This Is Rare !” [sic].

2 Rosemount, the Tae Kwon Do building, is also up for sale, for $3 million. The sellers may not be the same person; the two buildings are listed with different agents.

Finally, in related news, the clothing business at 1952 Weston, which your correspondent counts as one of the ugliest shops in town for its daily clothing explosion, is also for sale.

As an aside: why do agents always capitalize each word in the listing? It Does Not Make Listings More Exciting !


Police asking for help

12 Division police are asking for your help in a fatal collision near Jane and Lawrence. On November 11, a man driving a Chevy Montana struck an 88-year-old woman crossing Lawrence at 8 pm. She was killed in the collision.

If you have any information, the police would like to hear from you.