Hussen blows it.

The Federal election campaign has been running for, well, a whole campaign now and some strange things have been happening on the road to Ottawa.

Ahmed Hussen was the surprise nomination of the York South-Weston Liberals back in December last year. Many had expected YSW Liberal Riding executive Jules Kerlinger to be a nominee but he inexplicably withdrew from the race quite early and wouldn’t talk about it. Rumours were that he’d been invited to step aside by the Liberal Party but confirming those rumours proved elusive. Riding Association President, Ryan Ward was unable or unwilling to open up on the subject, referring me to Ottawa functionaries. Jules himself declined to respond.

Former Toronto councillor Bill Saundercook was then expected to get the nod but during the voting process, a strange turn of events took place. Large numbers of people came by the busload to vote and somehow, a bottleneck occurred at the membership and credential checking process. Late in the afternoon, with time pressing, organizers decided to close the polls before everyone was able to reach the voting booths. Outsiders shrugged and thought that this was simply business as usual for the Liberals.

Bill Saundercook.

Bill Saundercook confidently awaits the result at the nomination meeting.

The result of the vote that fateful day was a shock, not merely because a seeming long-shot had won but also because of the surprisingly small number of votes cast when compared to the huge numbers lined up – no doubt a result of the glacial pace of the voting line. The winner was a relative unknown, Ahmed Hussen but he had a well known local backer, George Smitherman.

As 2015 progressed, Mr. Hussen was seen at various events in York South-Weston and it was thought that his campaign was shaping up nicely. With a good tail wind from Justin Trudeau, he had a reasonable chance of winning the seat.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

John Johnson (Green) and Mike Sullivan (NDP) tackle the issues.

There is usually one major debate in York South-Weston before an election. This is meticulously organized by an army of hard-working volunteers from one or more organizations in the riding who do what is necessary to hold a fair debate. Many of these people are politically active but not exclusively for any one party. On September 16, Mr. Hussen announced to organizers that he would not attend the debate. More recently, the candidate allegedly let it be known that he considered the debate to be partisan; skewed in favour of the NDP.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

Knowing the scrupulous lengths to which organizers of these events go makes it clear that no party owns or controls these debates. To make the allegation even more fatuous, Liberal riding executive Jules Kerlinger was part of the proceedings and read audience questions to the candidates. Witnessing the event were former YSW Liberal MP, Alan Tonks and Liberal MPP Laura Albanese who would have quite correctly blown the whistle had anything underhanded been transpiring.

Jules Berlinger reads audience questions at last night's debate.

Jules Kerlinger reads audience questions at last night’s debate.

At this stage it should be mentioned that the Conservative Party candidate also failed to show up at the debate. This was neither a surprise nor much of a disappointment as it seems to be Party policy, especially in York South-Weston where the right-wing vote along with Tory candidates’ speaking skills are generally on the marginal side.

York South-Weston's democratic deficit.

York South-Weston’s democratic deficit.

One can only surmise that Mr Hussen’s sudden attack of shyness was not from a fear of entering some sort of NDP stronghold where he would be ambushed by frothing hordes of rabid lefties. The only conclusion that the public can come to is that he was woefully unprepared to respond to audience questions and decided to bolt. That alone is telling.

So much for the Big Red Wave. Thanks to Mr. Hussen, its now likely to be a trickle in this riding and YSW federal Liberals are facing four more years in the political wilderness. Perhaps the geniuses at Party HQ should have gone with Mr. Kerlinger after all.

Upcoming community consultation on John St apartment, storage space, Farmers’ Market, and Cultural Hub

The Etobicoke-York Community Council brought the Weston Hub and 30-storey tower one step closer to construction. The council ordered a community consultation at an as-yet unspecified location and time. At this meeting, residents will be asked for a reaction to the proposed:

  • 30-31 storey, 370-unit rental apartment building
  • 7 townhouses
  • 12,000 square-feet of community open space for the Farmers’ Market
  • 8000 square-foot Creative Cultural Hub and 26 affordable artist units
  • 40,000 square-feet (not a typo) of self-storage space in the ground floor of 33 King Street

The meeting, hosted by Councillor Frances Nunziata will be held on Wednesday, October 7 at Weston Collegiate Institute (100 Pine Street) beginning at 7:00 pm.*

Artscape will also be hosting a meeting to “discuss and develop ideas for the potential role of Weston’s new Community Cultural Hub”. That meeting will be October 15.

*Article amended to insert the date, time and location of the October 7 meeting.

John Street / Hub / 30 Storey Rental Apartment / Storage Locker Meeting – Date Changed.

The date of the John Street residents’ meeting to discuss rezoning for the Cultural Hub, Farmers Market, 30-storey rental apartment building (and now storage locker) is incorrect according to Councillor Nunziata. The original date given by City staff was September 16th. No word from the councillor as to the new date. The matter will still come before Etobicoke York Community Council on September 8.

They’re deciding on three things at the September 8 meeting:

1. Staff be directed to schedule a community consultation meeting in September 2015 for the lands at 22 John Street, 33 King Street and 2 Elsmere Avenue with the Ward Councillor.

2. Notice for the community consultation meeting be given to landowners and residents within 120 metres of the site.

3. Notice for the public meeting under the Planning Act be given according to the regulations of the Planning Act.

The public consultation will be at a date TBA and the big decision is now apparently happening in December.

Weston Web will post details of the public meeting as soon as they are announced.

Cherri Hurst Takes Toronto Star on a Weston Tour

Local Business owner and Weston Heritage Conservation District President Cherri Hurst invited Lauren Pelley of the Toronto Star to take a tour of Weston recently and the result is a lovely article extolling many of the lovely features of Weston. Ms. Pelley asked readers to submit their favourite features of where they live – WestonWeb suggests that readers add theirs in the comments section the article.

Read the article here in today’s Star.

2292 Weston Road sells for $10.2 million

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2292 Weston Road. From Google Earth.

This 65 unit 8-storey rental apartment building was sold recently for $10.2 million. That works out to an average price of approximately $157,000 per unit. The building had been owned by True North Apartment REIT (real estate income trust) and the deal was expected to close today, June 1. No details as to the identity of the purchaser.

For more details, follow this link.

P&M Restaurant: (on) May The Fourth (we’ll) Be With You

Yes, that is a cheap and convoluted reference to Star Wars Day. Let’s move on.

On May 4th at 10:00 a.m., Frank Kalamaris is moving his P&M family restaurant into unknown territory. After investing over a million dollars in a building and equipment just down the street from his old restaurant (the former Central Bar and Grill), Frank and his family are moving from a tiny 22-seat space into a much bigger and grander location at 1946 Weston Road. They spent three years working on the new restaurant while keeping the old place going.

Frank and his wife Niki working last month in the old restaurant.

Frank and his wife Niki at work in the old P&M.

Anyone who dined at the old P&M knew it was special. Clearly, a family was working together to create an informal place where people could meet and feel at home. It was as if you were visiting friends or family. Most days were busy and thanks to the cheery greetings and close quarters, there was no avoiding hearing and becoming involved in conversation with your fellow diners. The place was unique and a genuine Weston Treasure™ for over 40 years.

A passer-by asks Frank when he's opening.

A passer-by asks Frank when he’s opening.

WestonWeb asked Frank if he worries that the new restaurant will lack the same kind of intimacy and friendly atmosphere, especially with more room and an alcohol license. He says he is planning to have the same feeling and ambience but with more room and nicer surroundings. “A member of the family will be there at all times to make sure that things go well and customers feel welcome.”

On mentioning that the old Central Bar and Grill had begun as a family restaurant but in recent years had become a bit of a dive, Frank replied, “Although we’ll have an LCBO licence and we’d like people to have a drink with their meals, it won’t be a place for people to come and drink”, he cautioned. “We won’t serve alcohol to people unless they order food. We don’t want to become a tavern, or a hang-out place. We will make sure that families have priority.”

Son George moves kitchen equipment into place.

Son George moves kitchen equipment into place.

Frank reflects on the success his family achieved in the tiny restaurant. “We did it by getting to know people and what they liked. We have never advertised; our reputation is through word of mouth, yet we served 20,000 burgers last year.” He is fully confident that the tradition will continue in the new P&M Restaurant.

The menu has been updated but many of the old favourites are still available.

Frank and Niki proudly hold the new menu.

Frank and his wife Niki proudly hold the new menu.

For those of you wishing to have an exclusive sneak preview of the menu, (or wish to keep it on hand for take-out orders), here it is. Click on each for a close-up.

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Pages 1 & 2

Pages 3 & 4

Pages 5 & 6

Opening day will be unusual for P&M’s as, after that, it will be closed Mondays (traditionally the quietest day of the week for restaurants). Saturdays will see a 7:00 a.m. start to accommodate Weston Farmers Market patrons.

On May 4th, there will be no fanfare or official opening ceremony (that may come later). Just the Kalamaris family continuing the tradition of serving good food in a friendly atmosphere.

Nunziata being held to ‘ransom’

Perhaps someone forgot to renew Councillor Frances Nunziata’s domain name or the councillor has simply decided to let it lapse. WestonWeb (as usual) saw this tragedy coming weeks ago and Adam warned Ms. Nunziata of the domain’s impending demise but sadly, the warning went unheeded. Now it has been released into the wild and recaptured by some helpful cybersquatters who will sell it back for ‘only’ $1895 U.S.

Hopefully some civic minded people can start a crowdfunding campaign to return the site to its rightful owner. Failing that, is available for the paltry sum of $9.99