Farmers Market Opens for 2015 Season

In spite of the construction, Weston Farmers Market opened for the 2015 season today with beautiful warm sunny weather. Here are a few of the sights from today’s low-key launch.

Grandpa Ken has sold delicious peameal bacon sandwiches at the Farmers Market for 31 years. He's a grandpa many times over. Helping out is a granddaughter and her friend.

Grampa Ken has sold delicious peameal bacon sandwiches at the Farmers Market for 31 years. He’s a grandfather many times over. Helping out is one of his granddaughters (L) and her friend.

Zuzu Montezuma (L) and friend work the Eli's Body Shop booth.

Zuzi Montezuma (L) and friend work the Eli’s Body Shop booth.

Rob Heidenreich with his gourmet dips and offered some delicious free samples.

Rob Heidenreich with his gourmet dips and some delicious free samples.

A satisfied customer takes home some.

A satisfied customer takes home some fresh asparagus.

While customers and traders were thin on the ground today, the consensus is that Weston Farmers Market is one of the best.

Water main break shuts down Weston businesses

Yesterday a water main broke sending water flooding down John Street. Metrolinx is working to install a pedestrian bridge in that area and repairs took about nine hours. Businesses along John Street were affected. Because waterman repair is a function of the City, unfortunately, the notification that residents and businesses would have no water for several hours fell between the cracks.

Water flowing from the main break on Wednesday May 6.

Water flowing from the main break on Wednesday May 6. Photo: Weston B.I.A.

This should have been where either the City or Metrolinx’s Community Office swung into action to notify long suffering residents and businesses (such as Pizza Pizza who were forced to close).

It’s surprising that nobody saw this coming. Let’s hope further interruptions can be avoided.

30 Storey tower concerns residents

There’s some good news and bad in the latest development proposal unveiled in last week’s information meeting hosted by Councillor Frances Nunziata. Well over 100 people packed the York West Active Living Centre where terms such as podium as it refers to the base of a tall tower and Woonerf were tossed around.

Since the move of Weston GO Station south of Lawrence, the parking lot has remained the home of Weston Farmers Market but is a bit of an eyesore and has lost its primary function. Over the last few years, residents have been involved in brainstorming the future of Weston and responding to subsequent ideas brought forward by developers and the city.

The Good

People power in Weston pushed the addition of a stop along the UP Express line. From that one act has come political respect for Weston residents, a commitment from politicians to spend money, quality planning for the future that involves residents and the unavoidable attention of developers who want a piece of the action. A business plan has been approved by the city for the development of land in the centre of Weston.

Lands to be developed not only include the old GO Station parking lot but the recently expropriated adjacent vacant land. Tied in with this will be an agreement with the owners of 35 King Street (late lamented home of Andrew McLean), Artscape and the City. The betting is that 26 subsidized living / work spaces plus creative programming and outdoor public space will encourage businesses and institutions to invest in Weston. Artscape will be given a lease to run the spaces for 50 years.

There will still be outdoor space for the Farmers Market which has been a diminished attraction in recent years, losing both customers and vendors. Hopefully the new digs will boost attendance.

A lot of ideas from the charette are still alive and the city feels that creating high quality public spaces is important as people walk through Weston to the UP Express. This pleasant environment will encourage them to linger and support local businesses.

place

The layout of the proposal – the footbridge and rail tracks are at the top right. Artists’ accommodations (brown) are along two sides of the existing building to the left. The original tower footprint is the dotted line.

 

place

The new tower footprint is the small blue square. The Farmers Market will be located near the footbridge ramp (stalls are dark red). Parking spaces for the Farmers Market will ease the parking on Weston Road at other times.

The Bad

Crowning the whole development like a single birthday candle will be a 30-storey residential rental tower. Apparently this kind of height is needed to make enough money for the developer the project worth while. Responding to a resident’s question, Rockport Group C.E.O. Jack Winberg, stated that a condominium development instead of a rental building would not sell in the current market. When asked if there is another tower of similar height in the locality, he mentioned the co-op building at 2100 Weston Road (it’s closer to 20 storeys).

The tower.

The tower.

As a sidenote, Mr Winberg’s company built Scarlett Heights retirement home along Lawrence and handily smacked down residents’ objections when the development was inevitably taken to the OMB.

The not so bad.

Chief City Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat mentioned that the original tower proposal was wider and had no podium. The latest version will have less of a shadow and a podium cuts down on the wind that tall buildings generate.

What Now?

There will be further opportunities to have input on this project and others but it is up to every Weston resident to get involved, attend consultation meetings and ask questions. Community input and the hard work of people and groups such as the Weston Village Residents’ Association have resulted in good things happening but vigilance will be needed to make sure that developers don’t cut corners or maximize their profits at the cost of a liveable community that we can all be proud of.

Expropriation approved on John

The city has approved the expropriation of 14 John St, the vacant lot adjacent to the Green P parking lot. The parking lot will soon be developed into a cultural hub and high-rise residence.

14JohnLots copy

The land is needed, city staff says, because Metrolinx will (someday) build a pedestrian bridge over the tracks at John. Metrolinx bought part of the lot for the west side of the bridge, which did not leave enough space for the development.

Staff negotiated with the landowners but could not reach a deal. The terms of the expropriation are confidential.

Art hub approved

Yesterday, City Council approved the first stages of Weston’s community arts hub, a project to build artist live-work spaces, a residential rental building, and community space on the John Street parking lot.

“Artists often pave the way for positive change,” said Laura Alderson, vice-chair of the Weston Village Residents’ Association and a former chair of UrbanArts, a local community arts incubator.

“The project is long overdue. We’re thrilled that it’s happening,” she said.

City Council will consider ‘Community Hub’ in Weston next week

City Council will vote on funding the cultural hub in Weston next week.

The development will have

  • An 18-storey tower with 350 rental units
  • An 800-square meter (8600 square foot) community/cultural hub
  • 26 rental artist live/work units
  • An 1,150 square meter (12000 square foot) open-space area for the  Weston Farmers’ Market
  • A 75-spot parking lot

The apartment building, townhouses, and live-work spaces will be built on the John Street parking lot and in the vacant spaces under 33-35 King.

City Council will be voting next week to “expedite the planning review process once the Rockport Group has made the necessary planning applications”, among other motions.

The proposal to Council says:

The proposed multi-million dollar investment in the Development will create some 940 new jobs, which, together with the local expansion of public transit byMetrolinx and GO Transit will contribute to an area-wide social and economic revitalization…. The cost to build the Community/Cultural Hub, Live/Work Units and Open Space Area is projected to be $13.3 million, including an operating reserve.

 

Construction is expected to begin in 2016.