Summer sights along Weston Road…

It’s the height of summer and some things are happening yet some things stay the same.

Cruickshank Ford is still open but its main building is being demolished to make way for a more updated showroom. Sales now take place in a trailer on the site and service is still in the old location for now.
Cruickshank Ford is still open for business but its main building is being demolished to make way for a more modern showroom. Sales now take place in a trailer on the site.
The temporary sales office.
Cruickshank Ford’s temporary sales office. Service is still in the old location for now.
Weston Towns are nearing completion.
Weston Towns: This development quickly sold out with prices starting at $399,000. They are being built on the former Beer Store site and some will be occupied this year. These at the rear are the most complete and will be the first to be occupied.
Later phases of the townhomes closer to Weston Road.
Weston Towns: Later phases of the townhomes closer to Weston Road. According to the builder, First Avenue Properties, the first 16 owners will be moving in on November 17 this year.
Not much is happening at the future Weston Hub apart from some rehabilitation of the parking garage that will provide the parking for residents of the 30 storey rental that will be placed on the old Farmers Market site.
Weston Hub: Not much seems to be happening at the future Weston Hub apart from some rehabilitation of the parking facility that will provide parking for residents of the 30 storey rental soon to be placed on the old Farmers Market site.
Looking over the Hub site towards John Street.
Weston Hub: Looking over the Hub site towards John Street.
The beautiful flower display by Weston's war memorial contrasts nicely with James Gove's stonework.
Little Avenue: The beautiful flower display along Little Avenue by Weston’s Cenotaph contrasts nicely with James Gove’s famous stonework.

Farmers Market update

Weston Farmers Market has finally moved to its designated temporary location in the UP Express parking lot on Weston Road south of Lawrence. As readers know, this year, the market had to find a new home as the old site was sold by the Toronto Parking Authority and is being ‘developed‘. Metrolinx was persuaded to allow the market to use its UP Express parking lot but unfortunately dragged its feet and didn’t have the site ready for the market until late last week. Thanks are due to MPP and provincial cabinet minister, Laura Albanese for applying pressure on behalf of the market through many letters to Metrolinx.

Thanks should also go to Weston Park Baptist Church who, when asked, donated their parking lot to the Market while the Metrolinx site was unavailable. Weston B.I.A. Chair Masum Hossein tells me that without Weston Park’s generosity, the market would have had nowhere to go while waiting for Metrolinx to release the site.

This week, in a new location and layout, the market looked much more like a market from the street and if there was any doubt, the B.I.A.’s Deborah Gibson was pulling in passing traffic in fine carny barker style.

Deborah Gibson from the BIA doing a fine carny barker routine.
Deborah Gibson from the BIA encourages passing traffic to try the market.

The larger space of the Metrolinx lot allows for a better arrangement of stalls that has much more appeal from the street.

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Now that’s what a market looks like. Wychwood Barns it ain’t but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Those two SUVs are still blocking the view (we’re talking to you smoothie man and Grandpa Ken).
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Grandpa Ken’s bacon sandwiches are still big sellers. Perhaps Grandpa Ken could encourage his clients to line up so that they don’t block access to other traders.

Masum also mentioned that the market area is patrolled on Friday nights until early on Saturday mornings and then cones are strategically placed so that people aren’t tempted to park overnight in the market area.

Councillor Frances Nunziata was there keeping an eye on things (you can see her in the second photo far left). Traders I spoke to seemed pleased at the numbers this week and the weather cooperated. It also helps that there is a large amount of fresh Ontario produce available, much of which comes directly from farms and orchards. I bought some peaches and they were delicious.

Is it too much to hope for a beer garden?

Farmers Market – my 2 cents.

I made my first visit of the year to the Weston Farmers Market on Saturday in its new location. It’s not for lack of trying but a family vacation, a sick relative and Saturday morning forgetfulness have kept me away until now.

It was re-assuring to see many familiar traders there such as Grandpa Ken and the Egg Man.

Other traders I spoke to seemed to feel that business is slow but has been picking up recently. This makes sense as at this time of year, there is more legitimate produce from actual farmers.

Just a couple of observations from the point of view of a ‘naive’ visitor looking at the location for the first time.

Seen from Weston Road, there is little to indicate that a farmers market is happening.
Seen from Weston Road, there is little to indicate that a farmers market is happening.

One of the big advantages of this new temporary site is that the market has a much higher visibility, being situated in full view on Weston Road. There seemed to be interest from passing vehicles; cars were slowing but moved on, possibly because they couldn’t figure out what was happening.

The best view of the market is from the station side rather than the road.
The best view of the market is from the station side rather than the road. There is no mistaking from this angle what is happening here.

Strangely, the best view of the market is from the station end of the stalls rather than the Weston Road side. Cars and end stalls block the view from the street.

Even from this close, it's not that obvious what is happening.
Even from this close, it’s not that obvious what is happening and it looks a mess. The gold and red SUVs hide the market from the street. Photo taken at 10:15am.

It would seem that a couple of simple adjustments would make a big difference and attract more passing traffic. It might also remind people who haven’t been this year that the market still exists.

  1. There is a need for a large banner outside the market to indicate what is going on and entice people to stop.
  2. Traders’ vehicles should not be blocking views of the market from the road.
  3. All traders should be arranged in rows perpendicular to Weston Road for maximum attractiveness, accessibility and visibility.

Discuss.

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