Trains make first run through tunnel

The first trains went through the Weston tunnel today. Metrolinx said in its press release that “with the trains running in the new tunnel, the major work for the Weston Tunnel project is now complete…. This is a major achievement for the $1.2 billion GTS Project whose objective is to increase rail transit capacity by widening the rail corridor for additional tracks.”

Right now, only GO trains are using the tracks. UP Express trains will start running in the spring, and CN trains will continue to use the level tracks outside the tunnel. Transitdrum118 captured the historic first run.

Ahmed Hussen wins YSW Liberal nomination.

On Sunday, York South-Weston Federal Liberals held their long anticipated nomination meeting at Weston Collegiate Institute. Readers may remember that WestonWeb introduced three of the candidates earlier this year. The full slate was:

Mubarak Ahmed
Anthony Cesario
Ahmed Hussen
Masum Hossein
Monique Rudder
Bill Saundercook

WestonWeb arrived about half-an-hour into the voting which began at 2:00 and it was clear that this was no ordinary political event. Large numbers of people were packing the hallway, moving slowly towards the voting booths. Rumours were that Ahmed Hussen had signed up about 1800 new party members. Candidate speeches began in the dimly lit auditorium at 3:00 pm sharp but were unheard by those lining up to vote.

Voters line up in the halls.
Voters line up in the halls.

Of note, former Ontario Health Minister and (as he took pains to point out) Weston born George Smitherman was there in support of Ahmed Hussen.

Bill Saundercook.
Bill Saundercook relaxes in the hallway.

Supported by Marion O’Sullivan, Masum Hossein, of Weston’s BIA was also a candidate.

Mason Hossein waits to speak.
Masum Hossein waits to speak.

During the speeches, the long line of voters shuffled slowly and inexorably past and down the hall. Mercifully there was only one round of voting (ending at 5 pm) and voters ranked candidates in order of preference.

When WestonWeb left the meeting at 3:45, people were still arriving and the crush in the hallway seemed unchanged.

Results came via twitter before 7 pm.

Ahmed Hussen waits to deliver his speech.
Ahmed Hussen waits to deliver his speech.

As pointed out earlier in WestonWeb, the Big Red Wave is coming and clearly, local Liberals feel that York South-Weston can be wrested away from incumbent MP Mike Sullivan. While there is an urgency among progressive voters to end the Harper Government’s grip on power, it remains to be seen whether Ahmed Hussen can build support from a wide swath of the electorate. Mike Sullivan will also need to run a good campaign and convince voters he is worthy of a second term as MP.

Nunziata: Rosemont Social Club operators cleared.

email from Councillor Nunziata
email from Councillor Nunziata – click to expand.

On Thursday, Councillor Nunziata issued a letter to constituents that reads a bit like an obituary. It concerns the social club that readers may remember was the subject of intense scrutiny along with a community meeting last September. Residents had expressed concern at the increased levels of parking (near the businesses at the Lawrence end of Rosemount Avenue) along with groups of older Somali men standing outside and (horror of horrors) socializing. At the meeting, the councillor made a commitment to put pressure on the club by attempting to link their activities to the restaurant operating a couple of doors up the street. In addition, parking control was instructed to step up surveillance to catch and tag vehicles parked illegally.

In her letter, Ms. Nunziata mourns the fact that in spite of her best efforts, the city has not only failed to find evidence of ‘operating a social club against the zoning bylaws’ but the club has actually been issued an ‘eating establishment licence’. Residents are asked to be vigilant and contact the councillor if any ‘problematic activities’ are observed.

WestonWeb would never accuse the councillor or her constituents of opposing the establishment of a business because of the skin colour of club members. This after all is 2014 and that could never happen here in Weston surely? It might be a good idea, now that strong-arm tactics have failed, to work with the owners of the establishments involved and find accommodation rather than confrontation. Perhaps it’s time to call a truce.
Comments? Click on the headline.

In Touch seniors’ home operating illegally

The Toronto Star says that the In Touch retirement home is operating illegally, and the owner, Elaine Lindo, faces a $25,000 fine and a year in jail.

In Touch, now called “Rosemount Place and The Brick House” is at the corner of Rosemount and King, and was first in the news in 2010 for failing to care for its clients. Dale Brazao, a Star reporter, went undercover and found “profound neglect”: residents left in diapers for hours, feces-stained towels, puddles of urine. There were also previous allegations of assault.

Following the story, the Ontario government regulated nursing homes. Lindo is now facing charges that she is operating without a license.

As the reporter was leaving, Lindo handed her a pamphlet touting the “exceptional service” offered at Rosemount Place, including three delicious and nutritious hot meals per day, healthy snacks and full housekeeping services.

 

Mount Dennis a major issue in campaigns

Weston–Mount Dennis is becoming a turning point in the mayoral campaign.

Olivia Chow has been  hammering John Tory’s SmartTrack plan for the bungled Mount Dennis section. She’s been saying his plan was drawn on the back of a napkin and has egregious errors—which, indeed, it seems to.

Yesterday, Chow poked fun at Tory’s plan for Mount Dennis in a mayoral debate on the arts.

Roy’s been over the plan already once before, here’s the gist of the problems:

  • The land along Eglinton that Tory needs has already been sold and has houses on it
  • Tory says he has a plan to pay for the train, but it’s not much of a plan at all.
  • The train ends near the airport but not at the airport
  • And there’s already a train going that way. It’s going to cost $25 each way, though.

Mike Mattos from the MDCA told the Sun:

“We finally got the LRT to a stage where the community is pretty happy as far as station placement goes. It has been a lot of work over 10 years and his plan comes along and throws a monkey wrench into the transit hub and the LRT station,” he said. “This is a poorly-thought out plan.”

 

 

Developer: How about 62 Stacked Townhomes?

Wednesday’s meeting to discuss the latest development proposals for the old Beer Store property at 2059 – 2069 Weston Road was deja vu all over again. The developer, Jack Morelli from First Avenue Properties and Councillor Nunziata met with residents last October and the proposal at that time was for 38 townhomes on the site.  

First the good news:

One of the developer’s other properties, the old Post Office building at 2050 Weston has found a major tenant. A medical centre (relocating from Mount Dennis) will occupy the entire 20,000 square feet of the ground floor next Spring. The upstairs will contain 15 new apartments.

Now the bad news:

After being sent back to the drawing board by various city agencies, Mr. Morelli has returned with a revamped proposal that now consists of 3 buildings occupying a smaller footprint but containing 62 condominium stacked town homes (a 63% increase) measuring between 500 – 1300 square feet. Each of the buildings will contain 24 underground parking spaces; one per townhome and 10 extras for visitors to the 62 homes. The townhomes will form a frontage along Weston Road. Once again, the city (represented by Natasha Lang) will study the plans to see if they comply with city requirements.

The developer stated that, ‘This is the new concept of town homes and it’s what people want’. He also justified building town homes instead of retail since it took such an effort to find a tenant for his retail space across the street, and besides, ‘There’s too much retail space in Weston anyway’, and, ‘Retail is out of the question’ (on the site).

Apparently the MCR (not R2) zoning on the site allows an 8 storey building on the property. This was repeatedly hammered home by both the developer and Councillor Nunziata. MCR zoning permits a retail ground floor that could form the exterior of the project along Weston Road in keeping with the rest of the historical ‘Main Street’.

All of this seems to be posturing. Mr. Morelli, like any developer, wishes to generate the largest amount of money from the site. He is not doing Weston any favours. To point out that he could put up an 8-storey building is an empty threat. If Mr. Morelli could make more money by erecting such a building, you can be sure he would do so.

The people of Weston will be left with this development for many decades. Townhomes will be a classic case of bad planning along Weston Road in the middle of a retail stretch. While there is a demand for housing, any city planner will tell you that developments need to fit in with their surroundings. As currently proposed, these townhomes will look like missing keys on a piano or the gap in a hockey player’s smile.

The Weston Road Frontage.
The proposed Weston Road Frontage.
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3-D view showing the street entrance of the development.
DSC04406
Plan view of the development.

Mr. Morelli agreed to the formation of an advisory committee that would work to consider the wishes of area residents. This will be done in conjunction with the Weston Village Resident’s Association.

Fire destroys townhouses

A three-alarm fire destroyed at least three townhouses on Lippincott Street this afternoon. One person had minor injuries.

Dave Bennett sent in pictures and some video. The Star says the cause is not yet known.

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Lipincott St is in the south end of Weston, near Denison. Thanks to Dave for the photos and the tip.