New Lions Park Steps.

Looking up to Hickory Tree Road from Lions Park soccer field.
Looking up to Hickory Tree Road from Lions Park soccer field.

There is a lot of construction ongoing in Lions and Raymore Parks. In addition to sewer pipe re-lining and a retaining wall along the Humber, the rickety wooden steps leading from Hickory Tree Road to Lions Park soccer field have been demolished. Replacing them will be new sturdy metal steps that will not need winter salting. The work is scheduled to be completed by the fall. The work was originally scheduled for September of last year.

A nighttime view of the steps taken in February 2015.
A nighttime view of the old steps taken in February 2015.

A kinder gentler Ford Nation?

Michael Ford.
Michael Ford. Photo from Twitter.

The death of former Toronto Mayor and Ward 2 councillor Rob Ford created a vacancy which was filled last night by his 22 year-old nephew, the former Michael Stirpe. Last year Mr. Ford legally switched to the more recognizable maiden name of his mother Kathy and hasn’t looked back since. He won a trustee seat in the 2014 civic election and now this.

The by-election wasn’t close; Ford was pitted against an assorted collection of mostly fringe candidates and swatted them aside with almost 70% of the vote. By-election voting numbers are usually low and this was no exception. Ten-thousand fewer people bothered to turn up compared to last time and indeed, in 2014, Rob Ford alone garnered more votes than all candidates combined in 2106.

Mr. Ford campaigning yesterday supported by former Tory MPs Julian Faction (R) and Ted Opitz (L foreground)
Mr. Ford (centre) campaigning yesterday aided by former Tory MPs Julian Fantino (R rear) and Ted Opitz (L centre). Photo from Twitter.

What can we expect from young Mr. Ford? Will he join the ranks of the Mammolitis and Di Cianos to be another right-wing vote on Council? The answer is probably yes. Mr. Ford presents as a thoughtful young man who appears to be in favour of social justice; yet, in spite of huge levels of poverty in Ward 2 that approach those of our adjacent Ward 12, Mr. Ford spouts the same idiotic mantra of lower property taxes. This is precisely the misguided policy that leads to cutting services that benefit poor people the most.

Only time will tell if Mr. Ford will learn the reality of Toronto politics and understand the need for local politicians to focus on maintaining services and providing opportunities for people to pull themselves out of poverty. Other desirable traits, sadly lacking in many councillors are to act for the betterment of the whole city, defer to good planning and help the weak.

Will he become yet another friend of the development industry and an enemy of services that help level the playing field for the less fortunate – or will he realize that keeping property taxes low only helps the rich and reduces social mobility?

There may be hope that he’ll be a thoughtful, progressive and hard-working councillor. Let’s focus on that for now.

Interesting Commercial Properties for Sale in Weston.

According to Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, there may be a movement of commercial offices to the downtown core and that this is coming at the cost of the suburbs. One can only assume that the long commute times are responsible for this trend.

“Previously thriving suburban office parks are now experiencing double digit vacancy rates and declining rents, as employers flock downtown.”

Looking at commercial properties for sale in Weston, there is currently only one office property on offer:

2000 Jane Street: Asking Price $3,295,000
2000 Jane Street: Asking Price $3,295,000. This is a large property on about an acre of land by the Highway 400 ramps and the new hospital.

When it comes to retail stores however, there is no shortage of properties for sale, some of them very well known to Westonians.

2387 Weston Road: $599,000
2387 Weston Road: $599,000. This property A.K.A. ‘Artcube’ is near the Weston Plank Road building in a busy spot near Weston Road and St Phillips. It has served as an art store and taxidermists in recent incarnations.
1982-1986 Weston Road & 1 Little Avenue: $1,199,000. This comprises several properties and includes the former Chelli shoe store, the pizza restaurant next door and the barber shop on Little Avenue. There is a two bedroom apartment on the upper level.
1676 Jane Street: $2,499,000
1676 Jane Street: $2,499,000. This is a parcel of five properties fronting on Jane and Ellis Avenue. It has been approved for redevelopment.
1744 Jane Street: $759,800
1744 Jane Street: $759,800. This property comprises two retail units with an upstairs apartment.
1542 Jane Street: $249,900
1542 Jane Street: $249,900. This modern Subway outlet at Jane and Denison has 1100 square feet of floor space.
18 - 2007 Lawrence Avenue W: $249,900
18 – 2007 Lawrence Avenue W: $249,900 Near the Weston Station Tim Hortons, formerly the Brotherhood of Christ Healing Temple Ministry, this property has been reduced from $299,000.
Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 2.31.28 PM
#2-213 Lawrence Avenue W:  $259,900 Also near the Weston Station Timmies.
1650 Weston Road: $689,000
1650 Weston Road: $689,000. Currently operating as a convenience store, there is a three-bedroom apartment upstairs.
1746 Weston Road: $1,899,000
1746 Weston Road: $1,899,000. This property currently hosting a seafood store at Weston and Wilby is across the street from the new GO station. Wilby was the site of an affordable condo project that failed to get off the ground a couple of years ago.
1705 Weston Road: $4,650,000
1705 Weston Road: $4,650,000. This grouping of three properties is next to the Weston GO station and are being sold ‘as is’.
2464 Weston Road: $989,000
2464 Weston Road: $989,000. This property comprises two units of differing sizes with a total of 3200 square feet of floor space.

All images from Realtor.ca

Kodak Lands Gas Generator is dead.

Judith Hayes (centre) gets ready to host the residents' meeting.
Judith Hayes (centre) gets ready to host the residents’ meeting.

Mount Dennis Residents’ Association held an information meeting last night at the York Civic Centre. Several speakers were in attendance as well as Provincial Citizenship and Immigration Minister Laura Albanese and Toronto Councillors Frances Nunziata and Frank Di Giorgio. Also of note, in the audience was a small contingent of attentive young people from the For Youth Initiative.

The meeting was held to discuss the 18MW natural gas generator proposed by Metrolinx to be used in power outages on the new Eglinton Crosstown Line as well as a cheaper source of energy during peak periods.

For the first part of the meeting, several speakers discussed greener methods of power generation and conservation.

Once the floor was opened to residents’ questions, the most pertinent comment came in response MDCA’s Rick Ciccarelli. He asked the City’s Fernando Carou (Community Energy Planning) for confirmation that Metrolinx has withdrawn its site plan application for a gas generator on the Kodak Lands. He then asked what is now being planned. Carou replied that the application has indeed been withdrawn and that Metrolinx and Toronto Hydro are currently working on more environmentally acceptable ways of providing back-up power.

According to the politicians present at the meeting, a further announcement will be forthcoming in about a month and that residents will be consulted on any further proposals.

Interestingly, one of the speakers, Jason Rioux, Vice President of NRSTOR, confirmed that battery storage is capable of providing emergency power and that instead of using one site, several smaller battery modules could be installed along the crosstown line. This would provide more efficiency during a power outage and would eliminate the need for a large building on the Kodak lands site. The batteries would be charged at night with cheap electricity while trains weren’t running.

For now, residents can breathe a sigh of relief. The generator is off the table. Well done to all involved who applied political pressure to ensure this option was eliminated and to the politicians who responded to the people’s wishes. It remains to be seen what Metrolinx will come up with next but according to the politicians present, people will be consulted on any new proposals. A further announcement will be forthcoming in about a month.

Province nixes texting ban for street walkers.

Councillor Frances Nunziata’s questionable motion (see Adam’s article) to request a change to the Highway Traffic Act was quickly given the bum’s rush by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. Officials at the Ontario Government must find such motions trying (but probably not as trying as the City’s transportation flip-flops over the past few years). Minister Del Duca correctly pointed out that City Council has the power to pass by-laws; something the good councillor may have overlooked in the zeal to take the issue to a higher level.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.08.42 PM
From radio times.com

Ms Nunziata’s motion passed by a startling 26 votes to 15 and one can only surmise that during the vote, many councillors were texting and weren’t paying close attention. Council motions and votes these days are as unpredictable and logical as tossing a coin; although citizens can be assured that whenever a council motion is passed, it may well:

  • fly in the face of common sense,
  • appease a vested interest and
  • demonstrate the bizarre thinking powers of its proponents

I believe a proposal to license pedestrians may be coming up soon. Stay tuned.

Off leash zone update.

Raymore-Proposed-Leash-Free-Zone

An off-leash zone/area for dogs is about to be built in Raymore Park. It will be located by the larger of two baseball diamonds and will have areas for small (< 20 lbs) and large dogs. There will be two gates and two paved pathways from the Pan-Am Trail for access. Unlike many leash-free zones, this one will be about 450m from the parking lot, and even further when Raymore’s parking lot is closed for the winter.

The area may be larger than the outline in the photograph because of the later addition of a separate small-dog section. Workers have already removed the baseball diamond fencing. The surface of the zone will be 4-6″ of pea gravel on top of a mesh filter which will help with drainage. TRCA is anxious that there be no runoff from the zone into the Humber.

Fencing will be post and paddle, 1.5 m tall and made of northern pine. It will be reinforced with wire mesh 4-6″ deep to slow down dogs that dig. Benches will be installed for owners.

Looking north from the proposed leash free zone.
Looking north from the proposed leash free zone.

The zone’s original opening was anticipated to be this spring but there was a delay in the opening of the area because of work on a retaining wall nearer the park entrance. This is taking much longer than the expected March 31st completion date but should be finished by October. There is only one entrance to the park and so the retaining wall and another job – an upgrade to the path will be done first; after that, sewer work will be ongoing. At the last meeting on the topic, council officials thought that the area would take about a month to set up and would be open by ‘Thanksgiving at the latest’.

TRCA has plans to plant trees along the north end of the area and between the zone and the ravine slope. This will provide storm runoff relief and shade for the area (and perhaps some sound mitigation for nearby homes).

A view of the area from the opposite side of the Humber.
A view of the area from the opposite bank of the Humber.

Hours of operation: 7 am – 9 pm but people on foot will be able to access the area at any time. The parking lot will continue to be locked at 9:00pm daily and re-open at 8:00am and will be closed for the Winter between November 1st and April 30.

The area will be self-policing and residents are expected to supervise and pick up after their pets.

Here is Toronto City Council’s off leash code of conduct:

Municipal Code Chapter #608

  1. Comply with all signs and boundaries.
  2. Dog(s) must be on leash at all times except when in the designated off-leash area.
  3. All dog(s) must have a visible municipal license affixed to the dog(s).
  4. Dog(s) must remain in off-leash area so as not to trample or endanger plant material and other park resources.
  5. Dog(s) excluded from off-leash areas include:
    1. Pit Bulls or other dangerous animal
    2. Female dogs in heat
    3. Any dog(s) that has been issued a muzzle order by the Medical Officer of Health.
  6. Dogs shall not chase wildlife.
  7. Pick up after your dog(s) and place waste in receptacle or take home for disposal.
  8. Keep dogs in sight and under control at all times.
  9. Do not leave dog(s) unattended while in off-leash area.
  10. Repair holes dug by the dog(s) under your control.

Violation of Bylaws are punishable by fines.

Spay / neuter clinic coming to Weston / Mount Dennis

DSC05338Toronto Animal Services’ SNYP (spay/neuter your pet) Mobile Clinic will soon be stationed at the No Frills Supermarket at 25 Photography Drive – Black Creek Dr./ Eglinton Ave to provide spay and neuter services for dogs and cats. Residents with an income of less than $50,000 will qualify for subsidized or waived fees.

Dates: May 12, 19, 26

Arrange an appointment by calling 416-338-6281 or by email to [email protected]