Support Natalie, support great writing

Have I got a deal for you. You can

  • support great writing (i.e. not mine) and
  • feel great about yourself and
  • advertise on the only best blog about Weston

And you can do it for $30. What a steal, right?

You’ve met Natalie. She’s fantastic. She has been pouring hours and hours of writing into WestonWeb. She takes great pictures. She writes great stories. And, most importantly, she brings us a voice we don’t often see around here: young, vibrant, optimistic, smart, and awesome.

And she gets paid. By readers like you.

Natalie has a big heart, but I wouldn’t ask her to write for nothing. (Roy? He works for beer.) And that’s where you come in.

We’re almost out of money. For the past few months, Natalie has been paid by generous readers. In exchange, I offer them a text ad at the bottom of the post they sponsored. It’s been great!

But we only have $30 left in the account–enough for one more of Natalie’s awesome posts.

So how about it? Here’s the deal:

You give me $30. I’ll give every cent to Natalie, who will write a post about a topic she chooses. (Sorry–you can’t choose the topic.)

You get a link and a sweet little blurb saying something like this:

P&M’s is the best restaurant in town, and we’re moving to a new location. Eventually.”

 

And you get to feel awesome for giving just about the finest young person in town a good job contributing back to her community.

If you want to give more or less than $30, let me know. We can work something out.

Let’s do this.

I take Paypal, cash, cheques, and beer.

Already decided? Go for it. Click through. Or email, call, or text: adam (at) adamnorman.com, (647) 470-9229.



But wait. There’s more.

For $90, I’ll make you a great deal. I’ll put your ad over there on the left-hand side (rotating with the ads of other contributors so that people will pay attention to it) and you can sponsor three posts. I’ll run your until we need to do more fundraising. I hope that’s months. Natalie will get every cent.

That’s it!

$30—you are awesome. I love you. Your community will love you. You will put your name and/or establishment in front of thousands of monthly viewers.

$90—bulk deal. Three text ads, a graphic ad, and a huge “Thank you” from me and the community.

There’s some fine print.

The fine print.

  • If you decide to advertise, your ad has to be no less classy than the rest of the site (that’s not too classy, in case you haven’t noticed. But, you know, I’m not going to take advertisements from ‘massage’ parlours or whatnot.) I’ll refund your money if we can’t work something out.
  • The ads can be, say, 40-or-so words long.
  • Your money does not buy you any editorial control. This part is important: You can’t choose the topic of your post.
  • This too is important, don’t do this if you’re counting on making a million bucks from new visitors. Only do it if it makes you feel good helping a local young person.

 

 

 

Pan Am Path extension officially opens

Urban Arts entertains the crowd.

Urban Arts entertains the crowd.

Another link officially opened today in a major step towards completion of the much anticipated Pan Am Path. This 84km path is being created by linking existing shorter trails and will eventually allow pedestrians and cyclists to move from Brampton to Pickering without encountering motor vehicles. After the ceremony, a Jane’s Walk took pedestrians along the path and a group of cyclists followed later. Bike Share Toronto (formerly Bixi) had bikes for those wishing to try the new link. Dynamic youth support organization UrbanArts provided music and an art activity for the celebration.

Urban Arts art activity.

Urban Arts art activity.

One of the more distasteful aspects of these events is the unseemly scramble for credit. Political representatives from all three levels of government were jockeying for position. Freshly re-elected MPP Laura Albanese announced a $400,000 grant from the Trillium Foundation to be spent on projects covering the length of the trail (strangely the Trillium Foundation site has no trace of this in their list of grants). Councillor Frances Nunziata announced (again) the $48,000 worth of exercise equipment to be installed in Cruickshank Park (well before the Council election in October no doubt). This money was extracted from several developers in exchange for Council concessions. Another guest speaker, Etobicoke Centre Tory MP Ted Opitz prattled on about his support for the path despite the Federal Government contribution of precisely zero to this project. It takes some nerve to remove protection from the Humber River (as the Tories have done) and then bask in the glory of others’ work. Then again, there will be a federal election by October 2015 at the latest. Right leaning mayoral hopeful Karen Stintz was in attendance but mercifully kept a low profile (until the ribbon cutting). Incredibly, our own MP Mike Sullivan told me he was not invited and therefore didn’t get to speak. Organizers from Friends of the Pan Am Path claimed there had been an oversight.

Brent Chamberlain and Frances Nunziata cut the ribbon.

Brent Chamberlain (Friends of the Pan Am Path) and Frances Nunziata (with scissors) cut the ribbon.

Sullivan: Harper government ignoring Weston flood damage.

York South-Weston MP Mike Sullivan spoke in Parliament today about the flooding in York South-Weston and revealed that despite the damage caused on July 8th, the Federal government has failed to offer any meaningful assistance.

Mr. Speaker, this past summer, the City of Toronto suffered what is described as a once-in-a-hundred-years storm. Thousands of homes were flooded, families lost cherished possessions and spent millions rebuilding. Neighbourhoods in my riding of York South—Weston were among the hardest hit.

I visited the flooded streets to offer comfort and assistance. I saw tremendous resilience from the very young to the very old. I also saw the aftermath of the current Conservative government’s neglect of our city and its critical infrastructure needs, such as improved sewer systems, some of which are over 100 years old.

With climate change, severe storms like the one that hit Toronto on July 8 will become more frequent. The Conservative government needs to get off the sidelines and start investing to prevent widespread flooding from happening with each big storm.

I have written on these matters to the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs, but the response did not offer any assistance.

This is a prime example of the climate change adaptation the government talks about. The time to help is now. My constituents not only expect it, they demand it.

Sullivan is organizing a petition to the Federal government requesting infrastructure funding for our inadequate and outdated sewer systems. Once printed off and signed, petitions can be folded, stapled closed and mailed for free to:

Mike Sullivan MP
House of Commons
Ottawa
ON
K1A 0A6

The medium is the message.

The flood information meeting held on Wednesday July 31st at Archbishop Romero High School was a follow-up to the one held on July 19th at York Council Chambers. Again, almost 200 residents filled the gym. It was immediately apparent that steps had been taken to control their response. For whatever reason, a uniformed police officer was posted at the back of the room. If Ms. Nunziata felt threatened by this crowd of grandparents, parents, and children, she must lead a very sheltered life.

The meeting format was organized by Ward 11 resident, Sean McConnell. He began the proceedings by restricting questions to ‘only those who live in the area and whose homes have been flooded’.

Organizer Sean McConnell sets the ground rules.

Organizer Sean McConnell sets the ground rules.

Once the introductions were over, the meeting began with a series of anonymous softball questions allegedly emailed from residents. Whether the authors of these questions were in the audience or not seemed irrelevant. A phalanx of City of Toronto and TRCA officials was on hand to provide responses. After these had been answered, Councillor Nunziata talked about what the city was doing  to address residents’ concerns. Residents were then permitted to come to the microphone to seek answers.

Representatives from the city, TRCA and Granite Claims listen to residents.

Representatives from the city, TRCA and Granite Claims listen to residents.

Some interesting points were raised during the audience questions.

One resident’s basement flooded on the 7th July, the day before the storm and he was told by a city representative that the sewer was blocked. The resident showed proof that a city employee had reported the matter in spite of statements to the contrary from the official at the meeting.

A resident shows proof that sewers were blocked the day before the flood.

A resident shows proof that sewers were blocked the day before the flood.

City Council has passed a motion to ‘look at opportunities to advance’ a ‘sewer overflow control’ public meeting scheduled for the fall of 2013.

Until the assessment is done it will take 3-5 years to get a solution implemented.

Quick fixes such as a berm along Black Creek might provide a temporary solution.

The city has ended its special garbage collection ( information to the contrary was given during the meeting).

Some residents reported that Backflow prevention valves had failed. Apparently they require a homeowner inspection every three months and flushing out twice annually otherwise they are liable to fail.  There is a proposal to increase funding to allow a greater subsidy but the process is complicated, expensive and probably beyond the reach of many. As one resident pointed out, the unpleasant task of inspection and flushing will likely be neglected too.

Another council motion has requested consideration of an increase in backflow valve subsidies.

If your backflow valve failed, the city says your contractor is responsible, not the city.

If residents think that city negligence caused damage to their properties, they should make a claim.

Backflow valves and a sump pump on display.

Backflow valves and a sump pump on display.

The bridge on Humber Boulevard that crosses the Black Creek concrete trench is irreparably damaged and will be replaced.

The City had an opportunity to apply to the province for state of emergency funding but unlike neighbouring Mississauga, failed to do so before the deadline.

Here is a list of basement flooding protection projects taking place in Toronto from 2013-2016. Nothing is planned for Ward 11.

Laura Albanese confirms that unlike Mississauga, Toronto failed to act before the deadline.

MPP Laura Albanese confirms that unlike Mississauga, Toronto failed to act before the deadline.

Towards the end of the meeting I was challenged by Sean, one of MPP Laura Albanese’s staffers, stating that I would need signed releases for the photographs I was taking. Luckily, not having been born recently (or even yesterday) I was able to help the young man with this particular gap in his education.

Albanese staffer Sean possibly obtaining legal advice on photography.

Laura Albanese staffer Sean possibly listening to legal advice on photography in public meetings.

No doubt Ms. Nunziata considers the meeting a success. Nobody shouted at her and her message was heard clearly. The message was, ‘we’re doing all we can to help’. If only that was true.

The fact is that residents have been let down by a lack of action. The flooding of basements in certain areas of the city has been public knowledge for years – for example this map from 2005 clearly shows chronic flooding areas (Ward 11, areas 6 and 4) in Weston and around Cordella Avenue. If planning had started in 2005, the problem would have been solved by now.

Politicians have focussed on more glamorous projects and on keeping property taxes low. If anyone needs evidence of the neglect of sewers, all they have to do is walk through Lions Park where a large sewer runs alongside the Humber. On most days the park smells like, …well, a flooded basement.

UrbanArts is moving.

Acclaimed young people’s arts provider, UrbanArts, has outgrown its storefront premises at 19 John Street so they are moving in early July to a new location on Bartonville (off Weston, east of Jane). This is a move of more than 2km. Marlene McKintosh told WestonWeb that she has no idea who will move into the space as, “it’s up to the landlord”.

Unfortunately this will add to the ample supply of empty storefronts in Weston.

 

Urban Park Rangers – coming to a park near you.

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 2.02.33 PM

After much study and consultation, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation has produced a five-year parks plan to be implemented, beginning this year (subject to City Council approval).

Extensive consultation of citizens, staff and industry experts determined four basic functions of parks management:

1. Communicate and connect with users
2. Preserve and promote nature
3. Maintain quality parks
4. Improve system planning

One of the more interesting proposals under Item 1 is the introduction of an Urban Park Ranger who would be a more visible presence in parks and would be a

‘primary point of contact for individuals and groups wanting to engage with the parks system and build relationships with community stakeholders’

Combing through the corporate jargon of relationships and stakeholders (are community stakeholders the people using the park barbecues? Ed.), it appears that park rangers will be the human face of the park system and will be tasked with ensuring that City and park by-laws are more more rigorously enforced. A commitment to providing or improving park amenities such as washrooms, signage, shade areas and benches is also proposed. Another interesting idea is the establishment of a centralized parks volunteer and donations system. Businesses and people might like to donate money, land or time to the parks system but at the moment there is no formal system in place.

This will be a timely intervention for our local parks that can sometimes look a bit neglected when compared to the elaborate facilities and displays found in more upscale areas of Toronto.

The plan is a long read but well worth the effort. Comments on the proposal can be directed here.

Nunziata still votes like Weston is Rosedale

Blogger Matt Elliott’s column in Metro regularly posts a report card on the voting behaviour of Toronto city councillors. In his latest column, Elliott writes that while Councillor Nunziata’s ‘Ford Nation’ voting record has recently dropped, she is still one of the most loyal followers of a very right-wing agenda. Consider that this month Ms Nunziata:

  • voted YES to a motion to reject Provincial funding for 264 new daycare spaces – luckily the majority of councillors voted the other way (fail)
  • voted YES to continue to charge admission for youth to indoor pools (pass)
  • voted YES to reduce funding for AIDS initiatives by $104,000 (pass)
  • voted YES to not consider allocating $6.8 million from the surplus going to the Social Housing Reserve (fail)
  • voted YES to withhold $75,000 from the Tenant Defence Fund (pass)
  • voted YES to block $894,000 going to community partnership programs (fail)

The one thing she did get right was to vote NO in a motion to not use $1.163 million in investment earnings to support student nutrition (fail).

In Ward 11, the majority rent their homes and half earn household incomes of less than $45,000. They struggle to make ends meet and could do with more support from their councillor. They are clearly not getting it. How the councillor can justify voting against daycare spaces that would have come at no cost to the city is a mystery. To vote to withhold money from the Tenant Defence Fund is particularly egregious when there have been many incidents involving notoriously bad landlords in Weston.

Councillor Nunziata, you appear to work hard and care for your constituents but your voting behaviour is a mystery. Is being a member of ‘Ford Nation’ more important than helping the less fortunate members of your Ward? Perhaps it’s time to choose where your loyalties lie.