Mural unveiling at Perfect Blend

The Weston BIA and Perfect Blend today unveiled “Windows of Time”, a mural in the laneway between the coffee shop and Popeye’s.

The painting shows shop windows from the early 20th century to the present day; viewers feel like they are looking into stores through history. It’s quite clever, and it’s already won an award from the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas.


Drake General Store Pop-Up Hits Mount Dennis

The pop up shop concept (from Scadding Court site).

The Mount Dennis BIA is about to open a pop-up shop. Julia Maddin, Mount Dennis resident and General Manager of the Canadiana and Toronto themed Drake General Store downtown (not that Drake) will run a pop-up-shop in Mount Dennis this and next weekend. Working with Scadding Court’s BOB (Business Out of the Box) Project, the idea is operate a pop-up shop in Mount Dennis, under the lights of Nyctophilia at the corner of Weston Road and Dennis Avenue. While not quite the concept that we at Weston Web have been harping on about, it’s a good start that may lead to bigger and better things; especially if Mayor Tory’s excellent suggestion to tax vacant stores is adopted. Yes, even the Mayor gets things right sometimes.

When: December 10th to 11th between 11 am and 5 pm, December 17th to 18th between 11 am and 5 pm, and again for the BIA’s Winter Solstice Event on Wednesday, December 21st from 6-8 pm. 10% of all proceeds will go back into the community.

Tory defends the indefensible.

Mayor John Tory and homeowner Dave Bennett. From CP24.
Mayor John Tory and homeowner Dave Bennett. From CP24.

An interesting little charade was taking place yesterday in Weston. The Mayor and Councillor Nunziata were here to extol the virtues of keeping property taxes low. Never mind that Toronto’s budget is facing a $516 million shortfall next year and that Council has a backlog of $33 billion in capital projects with possibly $11 billion still to be added for transportation. Never mind that in our city, the average detached home owner occupies a $1.66 million home.

To support the Mayor and Councillor’s viewpoint,  a press conference was arranged in front of Weston resident Dave Bennett’s lovely home where Dave was quoted as saying that his property tax bill is ‘one of the biggest bills he gets’. Tory chimed in to state that property taxes were good for things like services but shouldn’t go towards capital expenditures (presumably like his completely useless $3 billion one-stop subway in Scarborough that we’re already paying for via a 0.5% property tax levy).

This is the mayor, aided and abetted by our own councillor who would rather cut city services across the board by 2.6% than impose a meaningful property tax increase. When services are cut, it’s the poor who suffer the most. TTC cuts, library cuts, parks cuts, police cuts, social program cuts and public housing budget cuts affect the poor disproportionally. Also look for user fees to be increased in the new year. In the meantime, those of us who own a home, from the most humble of condos in Rexdale to palatial mansions in Rosedale are spared an above-inflation increase in the lowest property taxes in the Province. Coming soon, (and this apparently is a good thing) tolls will be imposed on drivers using the Don Valley and Gardiner routes into town but instead of boosting the TTC budget in anticipation of higher passenger loads, a 2.6% budget reduction will ensure that fares are higher, routes are cut and buses and subways are crowded and even more uncomfortable.

Interestingly, York South Weston’s Ward 11 residents paid only $35 million in property tax last year compared to Toronto Centre-Rosedale whose residents paid $151 million. Most of Weston’s residents would dearly love to be in the fortunate position of directly paying property taxes* and contributing to the City’s budget but unfortunately they can’t afford to buy a home. User fees and transit costs will rise and programs designed to help people better themselves and eventually move onto the property ladder are being gutted by this idiotic strategy.

All this so that John Tory can say he didn’t raise property taxes above inflation and be re-elected in 2018.

Here’s an article and video of yesterday’s event from CP24.

*A whole other article; renters indirectly pay triple the rate that homeowners pay.

Is it time to panic?

When you say “Don’t panic!” the first thing everyone does is panic. So let me try this: Don’t worry!

There have been five-or-so shootings in Weston’s downtown this year, clustering around Lions Park. This week saw another: a young man was shot near Weston Road shootings-at-lpand Bellevue. At least some of the shootings are related.

Should we worry? Sure. Should we panic? Nah.

Gun crime across the city has risen dramatically. In the past four years, gunplay has more than doubled, from 185 incidents in 2014 to 382 so far this year.

What is behind it? Mayor Tory says gangs. Doubtless, this is true. But 2013 was the safest year Toronto has seen in decades and 2014 and 2015 were not far behind.

Gun crime, therefore, is also increasing because it had nowhere to go but up. The statistically-inclined call this regression to the mean.

Global cities ranking of safety, from The Economist
Global cities ranking of safety, from The Economist

But, you say, “Things are getting worse! I’m out of here! Weston is going down the tubes!”

Toronto is the safest city in the world. Every single place you could move would be less safe than here. Meditate on that. You’d be jumping from the fat to the fire.

Perhaps you were planning a move to another neighbourhood within Toronto—moving to somewhere safer among the safest. That, at least, is logical.

But where? Is anywhere safe?

Riverdale map
Rivers of *blood*

I was in Riverdale yesterday. Nice ‘hood! Boutique cheese and a restaurant that serves only bacon sandwiches. Really! Shame about the gun crime, though: 9 shootings and three homicides. Weirdly, everybody there seems cool with it. Perhaps they like a little gritty cred with their peameal and gorg.

Junction Triangle
Time for another rebranding, Junction Triangle.

I moved to Weston from the up-and-coming Junction Triangle. I suppose I should be glad I did! There were two shootings at the end of my old street, and a murder where I used to walk my dog. Weird then that the property values have gone bonkers.

Perhaps you’re considering a move across the river, to genteel Etobicoke. Don’t! That’d be moving into Fallujah! It’s a war zone on Scarlett: 12 shootings and a homicide!

etobicoke map
Scarlett with BLOOD.

“Wait”, you say, “12 shootings in Etobicoke? Nobody mentioned that on the Ceeb! How come?”

‘Confirmation bias’ is the notion that we seek out and remember evidence for our preexisting beliefs–in this case that Weston is a rough neighbourhood and the recent spate of crime proves it.

I haven’t heard anybody saying that Etobicoke is going to hell. That is because Etobicokians, unlike us, aren’t primed for confirmation bias. They’re not looking for evidence to support their prejudices. Etobicokians brush off shootings as anomalies; Westonians see them as evidence.

Look, I won’t lie to you. There are safer parts of town. You could move to Rosedale or Baby Point. There is almost no gun crime there. The rich are practically immune from it.shootings

So say you want to sell your condo and buy a fridge box in Rosedale. Should you? Well, you would be selling in panic, in a statistically abnormal year. I won’t tell you how to spend your money, but if you do decide to sell, call me first. Because I’d be buying in Weston, not unloading. Things get better, slowly, and erratically to be sure, but better.

Keep some perspective. Reader, you are very, very unlikely to be affected by violent crime. Don’t flatter yourself: nobody cares about you enough to shoot you.

One more thing:  It is much cheaper to lobby and push for change than it is to up and run. Character is expensively bought, but cheaply sold. (And real estate fees are 6% plus a land transfer tax.) You’re better off, and a better person, if you

  • Volunteer to help young people.
  • Call your councillor, MPP, and MP and ask what they are doing about crime.
  • Make a friend in the neighbourhood.
  • Report concerns and call in crimes.
  • Lobby for funding, jobs, transit, training, rec centres, increased taxes on the rich, more generous transfers to the poor, lower tuition, higher minimum wages and so on.
  • Join a club. Visit the Legion. Have a drink in the Army & Navy Club (if you dare; it’s off Scarlett!). Borrow a dog and go for a walk.

Our community makes Weston safe. Our community makes Weston great.



Man shot at Weston and Bellevue

A man was shot at 11 am today at Weston and Bellevue Crescent. According to 680News, it is not known how serious his injuries are, but he was rushed to hospital. Weston Road was closed in both directions.

Locations on the map are randomized, but all are within 12 Division, which is on Weston’s side of the river.

The area around Bellevue and Lions Park has suffered a rash of gun crime this year. According to the police website, this is the fifth shooting in the area, not including the murder of Jarryl Hagley at Pizza Pizza.

Options for giving

The best time to give is after you feel like hell for being such a crass and grasping consumer and before your credit card bill comes due. That should be in about two weeks, if your experience (and postal service) is like mine.

Here, accordingly, are some options for giving during the holiday season:

This Sunday, the Weston Park Baptist Church starts its annual Christmas Food Drive. All the proceeds go to the Weston food bank (WAES) and help more than 330 local families. “One week prior to the drive, 4000 bags will be distributed into the Weston community and then on the day of the drive, more than 100 volunteers will go door-to-door to collect the food, sort it at the church, box it and prepare it”

Me, I like to give money. It’s less trouble, and nobody ends up with peanut butter but no jam. You can donate directly to WAES.

Frontlines is a popular youth after-school drop-in centre. They’d be glad for a little of your dough.

The WKNC does great work, too, I know. They are a drop-in and outreach centre. They’re always busy. A little cash would go far in their hands.

Add your favourite charity in the comments. I’ll link to them.