Pop-up shops. Still a good idea for Weston / Mount Dennis.

From: http://www.startup-hub.co.uk/popup-shops/

Here at WestonWeb, we often think we know better than anyone else. After all it’s easy to second guess from the sidelines. Sometimes though an idea seems so right for an area that it should be given a closer look.

Pop-up shops are an idea that originated in Australia and the idea is that empty stores are cleaned up by volunteers and then opened by businesses for a short period of time. Landlords charge little or no rent but benefit because successful pop-up businesses sometimes end up as paying tenants. The whole street benefits because more spill over sales traffic is generated. Even Kanye West uses them!

There is quite a wealth of experience out there in the successful implementation of pop-up shops and it is likely an endeavour best undertaken by Mount Dennis BIA or Weston’s BIA. We wrote about the idea in 2012 but sadly, nothing happened.

We still think it’s a great idea.

Over to you Bob Caplan and Masum Hossein.

Have your say about rental apartment licensing

When I was a young lad in some dim and distant past, rental apartment buildings were glamorous creatures. They were modern, had great views, lots of room and everything was included in the rent. Most had a sauna and outdoor pool. For gosh sakes they even had laundry facilities in the basement!

Then in the 1970s, the practice of subsidizing tenants in rental apartments was a cheaper alternative to building public housing. Poor people flooded apartment buildings and with rising incomes, middle-income earners began to abandon rental housing. For the most part, rental apartments became the domain of the poor and were synonymous with shabby conditions and health issues. Conditions steadily deteriorated and ten years ago, in Weston, the two towers at 1765 and 1775 Weston Road were in atrocious condition and the subject of bitter complaints. The federal government stepped in with forgivable loans and millions were spent upgrading rental buildings.

1765 Weston Road in 2012 (file).
1765 Weston Road pictured in 2012 (file).

Nowadays, renting is the only option for many people in the current real-estate market. While conditions have improved, many buildings are poorly maintained and it is felt that legislation concerning these buildings needs an overhaul.

The City of Toronto wants to hear from its citizens about licensing rental apartment buildings. according to the City,

The intended goal of the licensing framework is to build on the current Multi-Residential Apartment Building Audit Program by promoting best practices in building maintenance, strengthening enforcement of property standards violations, and improving tenant engagement and access to information.

The public and stakeholders will have an opportunity to:
• contribute to establishing goals and objectives for a licensing framework
• create recommendations related to current challenges and/or gaps in regulation; rules governing the operations of rental apartment buildings such as maintenance and cleaning plans; enhancement of the current building audit program, including enforcement of property standards; and improved public access to information about rental buildings, and
• submit their own recommendations for improving tenant living conditions.

The meeting for our area will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, August 24: Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall, Meeting Room 1/2/3, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

DineSafe Toronto: Weston / Mount Dennis restaurants are in good shape.

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How great to report that all Weston / Mount Dennis food preparation establishments are currently operating under a ‘Pass’ designation?

Check the state of Toronto’s restaurants at the city’s DineSafe site.

Kodak Building to be relocated.

The Kodak Building as it looked in March 2012. (file photo)
The Kodak Building as it looked in March 2012. (file photo)

All 3000 tonnes of the long neglected Kodak recreation building will be moved next Thursday to a new location on the site. The idea is that the building will be preserved as one of the three new entrances to the future Mount Dennis Station. The station will be part of the Crosstown LRT line opening in 2021. The move will take about 90 minutes and a viewing stand will be available from which spectators may watch the whole event.

Later in the morning at 11:30, a community barbecue will serve food until 2:00 pm. Shuttle buses will pick spectators up from the No Frills parking lot every 30 minutes between 8:30 am and 2:30 pm.

Shuttle bus pick-up point.
Shuttle bus pick-up point.

For more information, call the West Crosstown Community Office at (416) 782-8118

Fantasy, meet reality

After Adam and I wrote articles about having to be careful when interpreting data, this Toronto Police graph came to my attention. It’s part of their ‘Way Forward’ initiative, already covered, that seeks input from Toronto residents about the future of policing.

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Click to enlarge.

The chart is breathtaking in its deceptiveness and misrepresents the true levels of crime in these cities. The authors seem to want people to interpret the graph to the effect that New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago have lower crime levels than Toronto. The fine print at the bottom basically informs readers that the statistics are meaningless but who cares, the bars have probably done their job.

For those interested, and again, murder being the best indicator of violent crime levels since there’s no ambiguity about a murder – they are almost always reported, here are the same cities’ murder rates in 2013, the middle year used in the police chart, so we can compare apples to apples.

20160818043023Let’s resolve that ‘The Way Forward’ should not be to mislead, or indeed to believe that Torontonians are stupid.

‘Suicide special’ off the streets

Roy and I seem to share one mind sometimes (a critic would say we share one brain). I, too, was thinking about the realities of crime because 12 Division tweeted this today:


Good on them! It’s a gun off the streets. I’m glad it’s gone, and I hope the nincompoop who had it rots in prison.

There is another reason for optimism if you look at the gun. That gun sucks.

It was a cheap piece of crap when it was new—in 1890. You can buy one now for about $75 in the US, but you wouldn’t want to. It’s a ‘suicide special’—called that because its best use is to kill yourself (and not necessarily intentionally). It won’t even work with modern ammunition.

What kind of swaggering gangster would carry it? A desperate, poor one. And it turns out that most gangsters are broke. They make about $5 an hour. The last bunch we had in Weston, the ‘Five Point Generalz’, had to take the bus, and not because their Hummers were in the shop.

This isn’t the first time a gun has turned out to be junk. In the past, the police have seized replicas. And mark my words: the bulk of guns waved around are fakes. They’re much cheaper, legal, and easy to get. They fire, too: my wife once even found a blank cartridge while out for a run.

Even cheap real guns are expensive. The cheapest gun you can get on the streets of Toronto costs $1500—10 times its US price. That’s a lot of hours at $5 per, so criminals commonly rent one when they need it, I hear, rather than buy.

Of course, there are real guns out there, and real criminals too. But I, for one, take comfort that if they were truly plentiful, we wouldn’t see suicide specials.

Perception, meet reality

There is an perception common to residents of large cities that crime is rampant. Our area has an undeservedly bad reputation for crime. Here in Weston / Mount Dennis, many people react to reports of crime by moving away, staying home more often or avoiding areas concerned.

from legacyproperties.ca
from legacyproperties.ca

We live next to a country that does indeed have high levels of crime. Not only that but our favourite TV shows are largely American and reflect the culture of crime that exists down there. In addition, the old adage, if it bleeds it leads governs many news outlets and so violent crime often receives the bulk of attention by the media. This gives people a perception that crime levels are roughly comparable to those  of our neighbour to the south.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Generally speaking, murder is a good indicator of overall crime levels. It’s a terrible and devastating crime; seemingly unavoidable in large cities. Last year, in Chicago, a city slightly smaller than Toronto, a total of 490 people were murdered. Compare that to the 604 murdered in all of Canada in 2015 and suddenly some perspective comes into play. That same year, 55 people were murdered in Toronto, which for a city of this size, is remarkably a rare and shocking event. Toronto by many measures, is one of the safest cities in North America, yes, even compared to the rest of Canada or for that matter, Ontario it’s safe. Not only that, looking at figures from ten years ago when 79 people were murdered in the city, Toronto is safer than ever.

From immigroup.com
2014 figures. From immigroup.com. Click to enlarge.

Looking at the raw numbers without sensational headlines, it’s possible to see a downward trend although shooting occurrences remain stubbornly high.

Toronto homicides by year.
Toronto homicides by year. From Wikipedia.

Anyone involved in statistics knows that numbers change year over year. Trends establish themselves, anomalies, (better known as blips) can occur too. When police forces and news outlets (as they have this year) proclaim things like “gun homicides are up 200%“, it’s often a short-term blip rather than a long-term trend. It does get peoples’ attention though which is the whole point if you’re trying to maintain a police budget or gather online clicks.

From Business2Community.
From Business2Community.

As the old saying goes, there are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics. Next time alarming crime statistics are presented in the media or by government agencies, be sure to consider the sources and their motivations before being frightened into thinking that we live in a dangerous city or community.