Market survey results are in

It’s not super scientific, but the results of our market survey are in: it looks like people are using the Weston Farmers’ Market less.

Of the 46 people who responded, about half said they are using the market less than last year. Only 15% are using it more, and about 25% are using it about the same. A few people hadn’t lived here.

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On the surface, that’s not a good sign. It could be, obviously, that the 15% who go more are spending so much more that they make up for the 50% who go less—although that seems unlikely.

It could also be that the results are unrepresentative, but they do agree with what the farmers told me last week.

A wonderful reader has proposed a resident focus group to the BIA. Another suggested that the market move to the Church St hospital site—both interesting ideas. I favour lowering rents, at least to last year’s level, to make the transition easier.

Free and cheap things to do during the summer

Summer time is filled with great weather, festivals and is all in all one of the best times of the year. Days you have nothing to do, however, can feel horrible! Personally, any day that I’m not out doing something fun during this time feels like a day wasted! That’s why I’ve thought of five amazing, fun and cheap things to do over the summer holiday!

Picnic in Weston Lions Park

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Nothing screams summer like a picnic and with an amazing place like Weston Lions Park, you don’t have to go far to have a great one. If you venture into the serene park, past the excitement of the soccer and baseball fields, you’ll find pathways that lead you deep into nature. (or as close as you can get to it in Toronto). You can bask in the sun in a secluded part of the park, look out on the Humber river, and enjoy a relaxing summer day. Bring along a couple friends, family, and some great food, and you’ve got the perfect summer getaway. If a picnic isn’t your scene, you can always hike through the winding (and sometimes steep) paths of the park and enjoy a one to one experience with nature.

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Café hopping

To my fellow coffee enthusiasts: You don’t have to go far to make a day out of your obsession. Weston and Mt. Dennis area have a couple great places to grab a great cup of coffee, tea and an amazing array of baked goods.

 Supercoffee: 1148 Weston Road

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This quaint little coffee shop is the perfect place to sit and have a nice hot, or cold drink and bite to eat. Supercoffee has charming wooden décor, friendly staff and the most amazing French vanilla, and iced coffee I’ve ever tasted.

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 Perfect Blend: 1971 Weston Road

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When I stepped into this adorable coffee shop, I couldn’t believe how nice it was! Perfect Blend has an amazing atmosphere and coffee that’s to die for. They also serve up crepes, baked goods, gelato and an amazing variety of drinks. From lattes to Italian soda, there’s a drink at Perfect Blend for whatever you’re in the mood for!

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Farmers Market

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Every Saturday from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm in the Weston Baptist church parking lot, there is an amazing farmers market. Vendors sell goods such as produce, plants, eggs, maple syrup and countless others! The market filled with amazing things to buy, and a friendly atmosphere, that would make anyone happy. On top of buying locally made and grown products, you’ll get to interact with the people who made and grew them! The Weston farmers market has been going on for 37 seasons and has never failed to bring joy to the community! And if you decide to go on a picnic as I first suggested, this lovely little market could fill your picnic basket.

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Art tour of Weston

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If you love art, you don’t have to go to the AGO to see it. Weston and Mt. Dennis is full of amazing artwork you can see for free. Murals cover the street at Weston road and Eglinton, Weston road and John street and various other places around the neighborhood. You can see all the amazing work done by local artists from UrbanArts, a community art organization. The art is also a great backdrop for any pictures you want to take! Plus, if you really love art, you can sign up to UrbanArts and you’ll get a chance to be a part of their next amazing art piece.

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Bike Trails

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Summer is the perfect time to go out and enjoy the nice weather. Weston and Mt. Dennis are packed with great bike trails, where you can ride through parks and enjoy the outdoors. Whether you’re riding along the Humber river, through Weston Lions Park or just riding down the streets, biking and hot weather go hand in hand! When you get tired of riding your bike, you can pull over to sit and enjoy the outdoors.

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Finding fun things to do in the summer can be tricky, especially if you don’t want to spend a ton of money! Weston and Mount Dennis have a ton of amazing things to do and places to see, that will make your summer amazing!


This post was sponsored by: An anonymous donor

The Farmers’ Market is wilting

IMG_2790Many vendors at the new location of the Farmers’ Market say that their businesses are suffering. Several people told me that their business is down 1/3 or more, even while the rents have gone up. One vendor said he will be closing; another said he is considering it.

Almost everyone I spoke to was cautious about upsetting the market administrators, so I’m going to quote them all as a group.

  • The market was the heart and soul of Weston. They destroyed it.
  • Sales are down 50%
  • It has slowed down. Sales are down.
  • I’m done.
  • More people gotta come out.
  • This year, they don’t know where we are. [They need] more advertising.
  • It sucks.

Some vendors, however, were more positive.

  • We’ve been doing better here.
  • The area is bigger.
  • It’s better than last year. For the couple of weeks, it’s been good.

Several vendors have come and gone already this year: the hip pie people seem to have left, as did the popcorn company.

There is a lot of blame to go around. Some vendors said it’s too far to walk for those who have limited mobility. Others blamed the administration. And, dear reader, you and I share some responsibility.

Your correspondent, however, believes that the BIA could do more. Certainly, it is hard to see why rents went up; given the disruption, they should have gone down. There should be much more advertising, including along the 401¹. We could have beer tastings², or bring back the live music.

Masum Hossain, the Chair of the BIA, refused to be quoted for this article.

View the responses.

¹ Peter the Barber’s idea.

² Also his idea.

 

Farmers’ Market opening

I had mixed feelings when I crossed the bridge over Lawrence. I am delighted that the market, the sun, and the community is back. But there’s no denying that the Farmers’ Market is off to a slow start.

Ken’s back bacon was there, as was—joy—the egg and cheese man. Three pastry vendors were selling, and I can attest that the cinnamon buns have never been equalled.

The new, smaller lot works to the markets’ advantage, too; it feels more intimate and less run down.

But there’s no way around it: the market is small. There were no vegetables. Of course, it is still early, but not a single vendor was selling fresh produce, even from the Ontario Food Terminal. The smoothie vendor was gone, too, as was the meat and bread seller.  I remain hopeful.

While the vendors I spoke to said that business was fine, it can’t have been helped by the market’s inaccessibility. The John Street bridge remains unfinished, so anyone coming from the village has to detour out to Weston Road or go under the unpleasant bridge on Lawrence. It’s not the end of the world, to be sure, but it does make the market less accessible, especially for those who struggle with mobility. The John Street bridge was supposed to be finished in late 2014.

The bridge on Lawrencce

Sullivan: Metrolinx and Transit Implications

Now that the dust has settled after October’s Federal Election, I was curious as to how former York South-Weston Member of Parliament, Mike Sullivan was adjusting to the new reality of being a regular citizen once more. He agreed to an in-depth interview and we sat down last Friday over coffees in a busy Perfect Blend Bakery. We touched on four main topics that we will roll out over the next four days;

Already published:

1. Fallout from the election

2. The Weston Cultural Hub

The third issue that we discussed was Metrolinx and transit implications for Weston.

3. Metrolinx

Prior to winning a seat in the House of Commons in 2011, Sullivan was co-chair of the Clean Train Coalition, a grass roots community group dedicated to electrification of the rail lines that run through what used to be known as the Georgetown Corridor. He was a vocal critic of the Airport Rail Link before it became known as the UP Express. For a flashback to the past, this interview with Sullivan is a good refresher on the issues back in 2010.

Sullivan is still keenly interested in transit as it pertains to Weston. We started with the new GO Station parking lot and and its role as host to the Weston Farmers Market for the foreseeable future.

Metrolinx is giving the farmers market (the GO Station Parking lot) for free for the next couple of years because there are no GO Trains on Saturdays and because you’re not allowed to park overnight on that (GO Train) lot. No one will use that lot to take the Airport connection. When Metrolinx was first talking about the quantities of parking that they were going to need, I got the impression that because they were going to market the link as an alternative to parking at the airport so you would pay $16 each way for the ride and park for free. And so that’s why they’re building that massive lot at the south end for the GO patrons and the North end will be potentially long term although Metrolinx told me that they have no intention of doing that they’re so desperate for ridership and ours is the only station where there is any possibility of parking.

Between Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack and the new LRT line, many have been wondering what will happen to Weston’s GO and UP Express stations once the LRT is complete. A new Mount Dennis station will be located uncomfortably close to Weston.

Watch this dream-like video. Notice the connections to GO and UP Express marked on the station entrance. Read more about the station here.

Sullivan spoke briefly about the way the New Eglinton LRT line will disrupt everything.

When the Eglinton LRT is opened, the UP Express and GO train will stop at Eglinton. That’s not good if you live in Weston.

The implication being that having two stations so close together will be mean that one will have to go. In other words, the least useful will become redundant and that could be Weston because it’s not a major transfer point as a triple rail intersection would be. The Mount Dennis Station will allow a transfer between GO, the UP Express, the Eglinton LRT not to mention the hastily planned election promise that was SmartTrack.

Weston may have another fight on its hands if it is to keep its two stations.

Sullivan moved on to the expensive and barely used UP Express and is sceptical about the latest Metrolinx UP Express ridership numbers.

UP Express claimed October ridership was higher in October but they didn’t take into account the fact that October has an extra day.

 

When asked to comment on the ticket prices charged by UP Express, Sullivan claims that the cost of running UPX is about $5 per fare. If this is the case, Metrolinx has lots of room to manoeuvre. Rumblings have already started about a really competitive fare that would boost ridership numbers. No doubt the New Year will bring a sober second look at prices.

Tomorrow: The Church Street, former Humber River Regional Hospital Site.

Sullivan: The Weston Cultural Hub

Now that the dust has settled after October’s Federal Election, I was curious as to how former York South-Weston Member of Parliament, Mike Sullivan was adjusting to the new reality of being a regular citizen once more. He agreed to an in-depth interview and we sat down last Friday over coffees in a busy Perfect Blend Bakery. We touched on four main topics that are being published over a four day period. The first topic was Fallout from the election.

The second issue that we discussed is the Weston Cultural Hub.

2. The Weston Cultural Hub

On the Hub itself and the political processes involved:

I’m of two minds (about the Hub).

There are several things that make me nervous about it. One is the extent that the councillor is trying to get local buy-in from community organizations. There are secret meetings between community organizations and the developer and they’re happening outside the public eye. The essence of what I can gather from this scheme is that Rockport gets to build a 30 storey tower without a parking garage so it’s significantly cheaper for them on city land that they’re essentially being given; and they’re getting money.

On the neglect of this corner of Toronto:

The current and former municipal administrations have not paid a whole lot of attention to Weston and Mount Dennis.

This part of the City of Toronto has very few if any city services such as community centres such as city offices -anything that is a community service.

In response to those who claim that the York Community Centre being built on Black Creek and Eglinton will meet Weston’s needs, Sullivan points out its remote and car oriented location.

The York Community Centre
The soon to be opened York Community Centre

The new community centre is not here (in Weston) – that’s a regional recreation centre – you have to have a car to get there – you can’t get there as a pedestrian.

There’s nothing up here and there hasn’t been and there needs to be. There are 10,000 people already who live in the various buildings along Weston road who have no city facilities and we’re going to add another thousand people or more to that already under-serviced group. Where are the city services that come along with this? We’re getting 8000 square feet of community space but what will be its purpose? We don’t know and it will be gone after 50 years.

Sullivan calls 33 King, ‘Weston’s long-term eyesore’ and says that it should never have been put where it was.

“(33 King) is getting the $10million in benefit – they’re getting to make their ground floor into public storage which was never said until late into the game – it is not an appropriate use for a residential neighbourhood despite what Jennifer Keesmaat says. In addition to getting redevelopment of live-work spaces paid for by somebody else that they’ll collect the rent on and city officials are bending over backwards to make it happen. There is absolutely no resistance from any city department or organization despite many perceived and real flaws in this project.”

Sullivan also worries about the increased levels of traffic produced by an extra thousand people who will live in the new 30-storey tower. Residents will park in the existing parking garage that empties onto King Street. He claims that traffic studies of the new Hub ignore the fact that a new 650 student school will be built nearby.

I asked (at the meeting) how it was that transportation services accepted completely without question (the report) provided by the developer which ignored an entire school. St John The Evangelist School apparently no longer exists according to that traffic study. So the answer that came from Transportation Services parroted the report from the developer which was that 33 King has the right to that many vehicles and ignored that there will be 650 kids where before there used to be 200 who will be coming and going at rush hour. …the ramp empties directly onto the street with no signalling whatsoever. I hate to say this but it’s only a matter of time before some young person  is injured or killed because of the dramatic increase in traffic that will come as the result of 370 units having parking in that building that they didn’t have before.

He is concerned that while John Street has been designated a place for Farmers Market vehicles to be parked, it is also a designated fire route.

(at the public meeting) I asked what’s going to happen to the Farmers market vehicles because Frances’ (Councillor Nunziata) plan is to turn the Farmers Market into a street market and so that the vehicles will be on John Street. But in one of the newest incarnations of the site plan, John Street will become a fire route. And therefore you cannot park vehicles on the fire route and that question’s not answered.

Another important issue for Sullivan is the lack of an easement to guarantee that pedestrian access will not be cut off by the owners of 33 King Street.

…the city is planning to make the laneways on the east side of 33 King into a pedestrian passageway. (Dan Harris asked) on several occasions if (the city) would require that to be an easement and the answer from the city is that the owners of 33 King will not give us that – well we’re giving the owners of 33 King $10 million – you’d think you could get an easement out of that, which would then make that walkway a permanent feature. But f they wanted to, the owners could put a fence up and block access at certain times of day. So there needs to be an easement and a re-think of whether we need 30 storeys.

Sullivan is also concerned about the precedent of such a tall building causing other, similar applications that will use a token ‘community benefit‘ to justify breaking the City’s planning controls.

Already other developers have put in feelers to the city about raising their proposed buildings to 30 storeys – Cruickshank apparently started asking the city about 30 storeys and and the owners  at 1775 and 1765 Weston Road who were talking about building low rise commercial in the front are now asking about 30 storey towers. Ms Keesmaat claimed that there would be no precedent as a result of the public amenities that were being provided – you can bet your boots that every developer worth his salt is going to say, “I want 30 storeys too”.  We’re going to have another 4 or 5, 30-storey towers with no services. I’m not opposed to the notion that an art community might be an interesting concept but I think you don’t sell your soul to get it. But I’m afraid that this notion of the 30 storey building and the loss of the Farmers Market is like selling our soul.

Tomorrow: Sullivan comments on Metrolinx