The world’s hardest working school council is ready to unveil the project of many long days and sleepless nights: this year’s June Fair.
On Thursday, June 4, join them and thousands of sugar-fed children for the best night of the year. There will be food, bouncy castles, games, animals, general madness, utter chaos, utter exhaustion, and exhilaration.
Do not miss this. It really is the most joyful night of the year. And there’s a bonus: Friday is a PA day, so your little monsters can sleep in.
The UP Express begins its service on June 6. Metrolinx has decided to celebrate the opening the following week by offering a barbecue and free rides at the Weston and Bloor Stations between 11:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m.
Metrolinx says that this is their way of saying ‘thank-you’ to the communities that have had to put up with the ‘dust, noise and inconveniences’ during construction over the past few years.
Your official invite is here.
All sorts of news in crime this week:
The jury is now deliberating the fate of Mark Garfield Moore, accused of murdering four men, including two men in Weston, in 2012. Moore is already serving 12 years for a jewelry store robbery in which a man was shot. He is a shockingly bad man.
This is the last of a three-part series on the proposal to build a Cultural Hub in Weston.
The story so far:
- A Cultural Hub has been proposed for Weston.
- Disused podium space at 33 King Street will be refurbished by developer, Rockport and leased to community groups at cost.
- 26 artist live / work spaces will be attached to the 33 King Street podium
- The old GO parking lot has been sold to developers Rockport
- Rockport will donate $2 million to the cost of construction
- Rockport gets to build a 30-storey 350-unit rental building (subject to approval)
- The City will waive $13.3 million in developer charges
- Artscape will contribute $2 million to the project and will lease the spaces for 50 years.
We are being told by almost everyone involved in this project that the only way for Weston to get money for its Cultural Hub is to allow the developer to build a 30-storey rental apartment on the site. The project is being framed as a ‘Wychwood Barns for Weston’. Let’s take a look at the two projects and see how they compare.
Wychwood Barns and Weston Cultural Hub – a comparison
Cost to build:
Wychwood: $19 million Weston: $10 million
Tied to construction of high rise rental building:
Wychwood: No Weston: Yes
City Financial Support:
Wychwood: $4.5 million Weston: $0
Developer Charges Waived
Wychwood: Yes Weston: Yes
Province and Federal Contribution:
Wychwood: $5.3 million Weston: $0
Wychwood: $9.2 million Weston: $2 million
Wychwood: Yes Weston: No
Wychwood: Yes Weston: Yes
Farmers Market Space:
Wychwood: Yes Weston: Yes
Heritage District Status
Wychwood: Yes Weston: No
So there you have it. Although the City seems to be generously waiving $13.3 million in developer fees, according to Councillor Joe Mihevc developer fees were waived for the Wychwood project too. Incidentally, Councillor Mihevc thinks the Weston Hub plan is ‘terrific’ but hadn’t realized that there was a rental tower as part of the deal. He said it’s up to the parties involved to hammer out the best deal they can for Weston. He did speak well of developers Rockport saying they are based in his ward and are ‘good people’.
The Wychwood project received generous grants from Artscape, the City, the Province and the Federal Government while Weston, a Priority Neighbourhood is told that this is the only deal that can be obtained. Wychwood got a community hub without developer involvement while Weston’s hub is tied to a rental tower that will be the tallest in the area.
Weston residents are confronting some difficult decisions. There is a temptation to accept any form of development because change is felt to be better than the status quo. It is long understood that one reason for Weston’s decline was an excess of cheaply constructed and rather tall rental buildings. For years, Weston was a dumping ground for high-rise buildings, each one built to minimum standards and plunked down with the blessing of the City government of the day. City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat candidly acknowledged this at the meeting held recently but at the same time telling us that the current understanding with the developer is the best that can be done.
In the developer’s original apartment proposal, there was no podium, too wide a base and 18 storeys (perhaps the architect didn’t read the City’s Tall Building Guidelines). The developer was sent back for a redo and returned with the exactly the same rental space (300,000 square feet) and same number of apartments (350) only this time on 30 floors. The argument being that since Weston has lots of tall buildings, another one won’t hurt. At the information meeting, developer Jack Winberg was adamant that the building must be a rental and not a condo. With lots of rental units available in Weston at bargain basement prices, the community has no guarantee that this building will not become another low-income project (not that there’s anything wrong with low income housing, however Weston does more than its fair share to accommodate that sector of society).
There are no easy answers to improving a priority neighbourhood. Improvement requires encouraging a variety of housing types, support for businesses, improved transportation links and infrastructure that add to the fabric of a community along with strong citizen involvement. Most of all it requires money from all levels of government that isn’t tied to developers on a take it or leave it basis.
Yet another rental building in Weston will cement our reputation as a low income dumping ground as the temptation to fill the building with TCHC tenants will inevitably win out. This is not to denigrate people who need help with their accommodation but shouldn’t we try to achieve a balance of housing types in all areas of Toronto.
Here is a quote from a paper written in 2009 by Former Chief Planner Paul Bedford that got the ball rolling in Weston.
- given the relocation of GO train parking to the new station at Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue, embrace the opportunity to develop a town square concept forming the heart and central meeting place in Weston on John Street
- re-use a portion of the vacant concourse area to the west of 33 King to incorporate an indoor component of the farmers market with outdoor stalls adjacent and on the west side close to parking
- consider introducing a mix of functions into the podium of 33-35 King such as recreation, community centre, artist studio lofts, non-profit offices similar in concept to the Wychwood Barns along with a park and community gardens on east side of parking lot and on the green covered rail corridor deck with possible bike lanes
Some questions seem to be needing answers:
Why is there real money from all levels of government for a project in Wychwood yet none for a Priority Neighbourhood like Weston?
Why did Artscape contribute so much more for Wychwood Barns than its proposed contribution for Weston’s Cultural Hub?
Why is the Weston project tied to the construction of a new rental building when a project costing double was achieved without one?
Who owns the podium and parking garage at 33 King street and what is their interest / involvement / contribution?
How can Weston absorb yet another rental tower when we already have 32?
Should Artscape accept donations from developers?
What is being done about Weston’s long awaited Heritage Status?
Make no mistake; this project is a done deal unless people demand answers to these troubling questions. Yes, a lot of work has gone into this development proposal. Many city employees have spent a long time sorting out the details along with Weston Residents’ Association, Artscape, Councillor Nunziata and the developer. That doesn’t make it a worthy project as there are far too many unknowns.
The VCCU is celebrating a successful move to new digs in the Tim Horton’s Plaza with a little shindig and raffle in support of the Weston food bank. Stop by on this Saturday, May 30 at 11 and bring non-perishable food or a donation. They’ll be raffling off some great prizes to lucky donors.
The new Pan Am mural will also be unveiled on Saturday. Stop by between 1 and 4 pm for a bit of hoopla to join UrbanArts and Dan Bergeron “as they explore the history of Weston-Mount Dennis.” I’m pretty sure it will be packed with all the people you want to rub elbows with.
The ever-awesome Queens Drive yard sale will be on Saturday June 13th from 8 am to 8:01 am (later for losers), rain or shine. This is the 28th year. Next year, King Street will steal the Queens’ crown, I assure you.
Finally, on Sunday, June 14, 12 Division police will be having their 16th annual Community and Family Fun Day from 1—4 pm. It sounds quite interesting:
This year’s theme is “Our History” as it’s the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of Weston as a town and the 400th anniversary of Etienne Brule’s journey from Orillia to Lake Ontario.
Some young people need a hand at an upcoming basketball tournament and party.
Anne, the organizer, is looking for a few good people to help out with one of three 3-hour shifts: from 9-12, 12-3, or 3-6, on June 6. No experience with basketball is required, but it would be an asset.
You can email or call Anne to volunteer.