InsideToronto on cultural hub

InsideToronto has an in-depth article on the history and future of the proposed John Street cultural hub:

While Weston is in desperate need of revitalization, Nunziata said, the relocation of the Weston GO station to south of Lawrence Avenue created a parking lot surplus for the city-owned Toronto Parking Authority, which created an opportunity for this public-private project.

With the addition of the new UP Express stop at the Weston GO station, there is an opportunity to attract new developers and businesses to the area. But, she said, those businesses need an incentive.

“You need someone to come in with a vision to attract other businesses to the area,” she said, which the cultural hub could do. “Hopefully, that will kick off new businesses along Weston Road and bring in a lot of people to Weston.”

 

Weston Village lights up the darkness.

It’s the Winter Solstice today – the darkest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). Last night, WestonWeb did some drive-by shooting through Weston Village in the annual hunt for Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanza / New Year / Festivus / Shopping Festival lights. Several of the more charming displays are included for your viewing pleasure along with comments from our expert team of know-it-all adjudicators (my wife and I). If your house is not included, its image has probably been rejected, not on the bounds of good taste but thanks to the abject skills of the photographer.

TC3’s Season Debut Concert – November 29.

Toronto Children’s Concert Choir & Performing Arts Company (TC3) is more than a choir. Bringing together young people ages 7 to 18 from across the Greater Toronto area, TC3’s mission is to promote, develop and encourage youth through inspirational song, dance and Afro-Caribbean drumming. The focus is always on establishing excellence, holistic development and first-rate performance.

For TC3’s season debut, there will be two performances at 2:00pm and 6:30pm held at Weston Park Baptist Church at Weston and Lawrence.

Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.

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Hopeworks Connection Celebrates Trillium Grant

Joel Reid, Denise Gillard and MPP Laura Albanese.
Soundcheck’s Joel Reid and Reverend Denise Gillard receive a Trillium Award plaque from MPP Laura Albanese.

Reverend Denise Gillard had some celebrating to do last night. After years of using older instruments for her youth based organization, The Hopeworks Connection, the Trillium Foundation approved their grant application and came through with a $14,100 grant towards the purchase of musical instruments. With this purchase, HWC is able to support the youth-led organization ‘Soundcheck’ in the Weston community. Through HWC, SoundCheck’s youth mentors are able to offer “Hear Me Play“- a program which provides personal development workshops and the opportunity for youth to work with experienced musicians and learn to play an instrument.

‘In the past, SoundCheck had to use HWC’s older equipment and rent instruments and it really cut into our fundraising for youth programming’, said Gillard. ‘This grant will allow us to do more with our donations.’

Hopeworks uses Weston Park Baptist Church as a base. Pastor Alan Davey was on hand to offer his congratulations.

Until the beginning of this month, Reverend Denise also worked at Frontlines but will now focus full time on her Hopeworks Connection.

MPP Laura Albanese presented Reverend Denise with the cheque and a plaque. Councillor Frances Nunziata also attended and offered her congratulations.

Bits and bobs

Frances Nunziata’s most recent email circular was particularly full of Weston news. If you haven’t signed up, you should.¹ A few things of note:

  • The construction at Swanek Park is underway after a long, wet spring.
  • Swimming at the Lion’s park will be free again this year.
  • The Pelmo Rec Centre is offering Zumba and yoga classes starting next week. It’s not too late to sign up.
  • Toronto Hydro will be doing much work on Weston Road over the next six months. Since no local would ever drive on Weston Road now with all the construction already underway, there will be no additional inconvenience.
  • Mount Dennis defeats Weston at the only well being index that matters to your humble correspondent: community caffeination concentration. Mount Dennis now has an independent coffee shop, Super Coffee, giving them a c³ index of 1. Weston’s remains at 0.

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¹ 99% sure this is the ever-excellent Jennifer Cicchelli’s work. Nunziata said a few years ago that she doesn’t know what a computer mouse is and that her staff print out all her emails.

John Street lot expropriated

The city has expropriated the overgrown lot at 14 John Street near Peter the Barber’s shop. Interestingly, the lot was not expropriated because it was an eyesore; it was taken to make space for a “Cultural Hub”.

John Street will soon be permanently closed to traffic, and Metrolinx is building a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. The bridge, though, needs to take up some space in the parking lot on John.

That space, though, was supposed to be used for an expanded Farmers’ Market and as space for cultural activities. The lot beside was expropriated by the city to ensure that the hub would still be viable.

The city does not say how much they paid for the lot.

End-of-year crime update

I was at a New Year’s party this week. Though it’s hazy now, I think I remember my neighbour talking about the things she likes, and dislikes, about Weston. I think she said crime was the thing she hated most.

I told her—loudly, I’m sure—that crime was down. DOWN. Crime all around the city is down too, and you live in the safest city in North America.

Murder rates are a terrible measure of crime, but dead bodies are easy to keep track of, so every statistician uses them. According to the police, there were three murders in 12 Division, an area of about 100,000 people, last year (I counted 4). That makes our neighbourhood safer than every major city in the US. Only Montreal, Vancouver, and, of course, Toronto are our peers in North America.

There was one murder in Weston last year.  If Weston were a city, it would be as bloody and crime-ridden as Wichita. Or Charlotte. Or Denver—i.e. it wouldn’t be bloody at all.

Since you are extremely unlikely to be murdered, you should care much more about other kinds of crime. 12 Division had about 200 burglaries last year. No American city comes close to our low rate of crime and almost every city has more than twice as many burglaries.  A nice town like Portland has three times as many. Cleveland has 10 times as many.

There were about 150 robberies in 12 Division in 2013. Unsurprisingly, a lot of Texan towns have fewer robberies than we do. (Perhaps if we were better armed, the thugs would let us be.) Still, our robbery rates would put us in the best fifth of American cities, and we don’t have to have shootouts at noon.

D12 crime indicators
D12 crime indicators

It was, all in all, a very good year for law-abiding people in Toronto and in Weston. Get the word out.