Nunziata approves controversial Junction tower

The CBC has a long report on a proposed development near the Junction that involves our councillor, Frances Nunziata. Nunziata voted for a development that would allow towers that are too tall and too close to the railway tracks, and she did so despite the recommendations of city staff.

… city planners have deemed this plan inappropriate for a variety of reasons, outlined in a staff report, saying:

  • The buildings would be located too close to the neighbouring rail line.
  • The proposed buildings would be more than twice the height allowed for any development on that site.
  • The buildings would be located too close to each other.

Residents living on the upper floors of the proposed condominiums might suffer “unacceptable levels of odour” from a nearby rubber recycling plant.

The report also notes that the project “could result in an unsafe and inappropriate living environment.”

 

 

Conservatives nominate forehead

The  Conservative Party of Canada has put James Robinson forward as its next candidate in York South—Weston. It seems that the party has abandoned any pretense that they might actually win.

If the candidate’s website is to be believed,

Whether fighting for the disenfrachised [sic] or mentoring our leaders of tomorrow, James Robinson is the right choice for York South-[sic]Weston …. James is a long time [sic] advocate for all the people of York South-Weston, tirelessly working for all citizens no matter what concerns them or what effects [sic] York South-Weston. James has worked intensely with youth and has counseled [sic] many residents on a broad range of subjects and problems, always treating people with the respect they deserve.

Ohdear

 

The party cannot, it seems, afford a copy editor (to advocate for longer time is an unusual position even for the PCs, and, really, could they not put forward someone who can spell the name of the riding right? It’s an em-dash, not two hyphens, and certainly not one). Nor is a photographer or web designer within reach—the most prominent part of the page is a photograph of of the candidate’s forehead.

Your humble correspondent has not heard of Robinson, perhaps because Robinson lives in Whitby. I’m not saying that the bit about him being a local advocate is untrue—I have no parliamentary privilege, after all—but I will say that I’ve been paying pretty close attention riding news for close to five years, and we’ve not yet crossed paths.

Modi2?The riding association also posted some pictures of him that said he was at a meeting Indian Prime Minister Modi, the effect of which was to show just how far Robinson was from actually meeting him. There are lots of pictures of hands, crowds, and people who are emphatically not Modi.

YHC is not pleased. I am allergic to every political party, and the Conservatives give me anaphylaxis. But I am doubly displeased by lame-Modiduck, half-assed efforts. The Conservative candidate in the last election did not even campaign. The sum of her efforts was to put a sign on an abandoned house on Weston Road. She did not even collect the sign, and it remains.

This does us all a disservice. It wastes time, and money, and votes. But those are nearly irrelevant compared to the true cost: accountability. Conservatives are not (always) fools, so when they do not mount a credible candidate we all lose the chance to hear our aspiring leaders held to account from the perspective of the right.

Should you wish to meet the aspirant in person, James Robinson will be having a meet and greet on April 24 at 30 Gordon MacKay Rd. He will address the audience at 8 pm.

Media Manipulation?

To the casual observer, sometimes a media storm can seem large and when a story appears in several media outlets, it gains credibility. For a couple of days, the media has been full of news about the partisan use of NDP MPs offices. Our own MP, Mike Sullivan even got a mention.

Looking more closely, it seems that far from being a media storm, it is a single article put out by Joan Bryden of the Canadian Press and faithfully reprinted for example, herehere, here and here… My esteemed colleague Adam rightly covered it because it is news with a local ingredient. Ms Bryden is also the source of other stories about the NDP – concerning the use of satellite offices.

It would be improper to suggest that the Tories and Liberals are feeding Ms. Bryden story ideas. It is also an unfounded suggestion that Mr. Mulcair’s recently improved polling numbers are giving the back room boys in Canada’s traditional ruling parties unwanted bowel movements.

Mulcair - on the rise.
Mulcair – on the rise.    (WestonWeb file).

This month, both the Tories and Liberals are about to be battered by a political tsunami courtesy of their colleagues in the Senate. There are no NDP Senators so the Libs and Cons will be feeling the full wrath of the people. Voters, who have no patience with the concept that Senators are easily confused by forms and may have been tricked into filling them out fraudulently. With more than 100 from the ‘Chamber of Sober Second Thought’,  being asked to justify their claims, hearing about Nancy Ruth enduring deprivations such as cold Camembert and broken crackers is a prescription for high blood pressure.

While such a callous lack of understanding on the part of the public they so selflessly serve must hurt, Mike Duffy’s trial will be in the headlines this month and unless Nigel Wright can perform witchcraft, lots more pain will be inflicted, hence the need for artificial public outrage.

Allegedly, Mr. Sullivan used his constituency office to gather people for a rally. Having been inside Mr. Sullivan’s poky headquarters, it might be easier to have gathered them into something more spacious such as a phone booth.

There is no doubt that partisan activities occur in riding offices. Does the public expect that an MP step outside the office to discuss party strategy? Regardless, is doubtful that the NDP are any better or worse than the Liberals and Tories. The latter two have had more experience in hiding it. One is left to wonder, was this strategy on the part of the Tories and Liberals concocted in a riding office or in the PMO? No doubt that would be illegal too.

As the old saying goes, the first casualty in any war is the truth.

Mike Sullivan may have misused office space for partisan rally

Conservatives and Liberals are attacking the NDP MPs, including Mike Sullivan, for misusing their community offices as staging grounds for political events such as door-to-door blitzes. This would violate the rules about spending government money.

Sullivan comes under particular scrutiny in a CBC story, which says,

But at least one NDP MP has used his constituency office as a gathering place for a more overtly partisan event.

Mike Sullivan used his Toronto office earlier this month to gather supporters for a bus ride to a downtown rally with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

 

MS

The rules governing the use of government resources—including MPs offices—are uncommonly clear: MPs are not allowed to use offices for

 the administration, organization and internal communications of a political party [or] activities designed, in the context of a federal, provincial, or municipal election, or any other local election, to support or oppose a political party or an individual candidate

And that is the nub of the issue. Was Mulcair’s rally an election rally?

I think so. Sullivan himself tagged his tweets #NDP, and wrote in a Facebook post

This past Sunday, Thomas Mulcair spoke to our wonderful city of Toronto. His message was one of hope not fear and optimism not despair….  It’s time to build a more progressive and generous Canada. In the next election say no to the same old kind of politics, turn away from the talking points of cynicism and negativity, and vote for the change you want – and actually get it.

However, in response to the CBC story, Sullivan said:

My constituency office was not used for partisan purposes – it happened to be a convenient location for folks to meet before getting on a bus, near parking and 11 bus routes. As far as I know, the freedom to assemble is still in the Charter of Rights & Freedoms.

It is true; we still have the right to assemble. Next time, though, Sullivan supporters might consider exercising those rights in the Tim Horton’s just down the street.

 

City Council will consider ‘Community Hub’ in Weston next week

City Council will vote on funding the cultural hub in Weston next week.

The development will have

  • An 18-storey tower with 350 rental units
  • An 800-square meter (8600 square foot) community/cultural hub
  • 26 rental artist live/work units
  • An 1,150 square meter (12000 square foot) open-space area for the  Weston Farmers’ Market
  • A 75-spot parking lot

The apartment building, townhouses, and live-work spaces will be built on the John Street parking lot and in the vacant spaces under 33-35 King.

City Council will be voting next week to “expedite the planning review process once the Rockport Group has made the necessary planning applications”, among other motions.

The proposal to Council says:

The proposed multi-million dollar investment in the Development will create some 940 new jobs, which, together with the local expansion of public transit byMetrolinx and GO Transit will contribute to an area-wide social and economic revitalization…. The cost to build the Community/Cultural Hub, Live/Work Units and Open Space Area is projected to be $13.3 million, including an operating reserve.

 

Construction is expected to begin in 2016.

 

Mount Dennis rink-masters get a shout-out in the House

Simon Chamberlain and Guy Ruggieri, the coolest guys in Mount Dennis (they’re ice cold), got a nice mention in the House of Commons this week. Mike Sullivan said:

In York South—Weston, this cold, harsh season was made warmer and brighter by a dedicated group of volunteers who for the third year ran the Mount Dennis outdoor community skating rink in Pearen Park.

I was delighted to host a Family Day skating party there. Over four hundred individuals learned to skate at the rink this past season. Nearly nine hundred used the free skate loan program. The rink continued its fine tradition of making a positive difference in the community — one smile and one skating lesson at a time!

With a tip of my toque, I’d like to congratulate rink coordinator Simon Chamberlain, who received a Volunteer Toronto Award for his outstanding efforts, and ice master Guy Ruggieri and his over 40 volunteers who gave generously of their time to make this grassroots initiative a smashing success.

 

Nunziata’s expenses released

City councillors’ expenses were released last week. Generally one of the more tight-fisted councillors, in 2014 Nunziata came in 19th of 52, but spent $15,892 (in an election year), ever-so-slightly more than average. (The average is $15,778, and staff salaries are not included.)

Her expenses were up from 2013, in which she spent $3658. The great bulk was for flyers and postage. Last year she spent $12,287 on them; in 2013, she spent $2126.

Among the more interesting expenses—and there’s not much to talk about, I have to say—$11 at Dollarama for Christmas decorations, $15 for scroll frames, and $31 for the Christmas Parade giveaways.

Deep inside the files is, however, a dark secret: not all of Santa Claus’ staff are elves. He has a local (human!) representative in Weston who takes his bookings and files his expenses. Even reindeer, it seems, have to eat.