Best Place To Live in the World? Toronto – we have proof!

Most of us believe we live in a great city but now we have corroborating evidence. Influential British magazine The Economist has proclaimed Toronto the world’s best place to live based on a number of factors covering things such as personal safety, infrastructure, democracy and food security. While Toronto isn’t number one in any of these indexes, because it ranks consistently high on most of them, it is considered to be the best overall. For example it ranks #70 in cost of living but #4 in both liveability and business environment. As for personal safety, Toronto at #7 is safer than anywhere in North America or Europe except for Stockholm.

OK, Toronto, don’t let it go to your head; now go clean your room. Read the full survey here.

Big Red Wave’s a Coming – Part Deux

Just in case MP Mike Sullivan thinks his re-election will be a walk in the park, a disquieting item came courtesy of a group that makes election predictions by aggregating poll results. According to ThreeHundredEight.com‘s latest nation-wide predictions, Liberal candidate Ahmed Hussen would have an 86% chance of winning York South-Weston if an election were held today.

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ThreeHundredEight.com:Con.       Lib.       NDP.

Mr Hussen’s ability to win the Liberal nomination, despite stiff opposition should let Mr Sullivan know that he is not up against an amateur. Mr Hussen is backed by powerful interests including Weston-born George Smitherman.

Obviously, an election will not be held today, next week or even next month. However, Stephen Harper is making rent-a-crowd announcements almost daily and could legally call an election at any time. Many pundits think that he’ll abandon the scheduled October date and hold a Spring election before the more negative effects of low oil prices, foreign troop involvement and a vanishing surplus can be felt. If that is the case, Mr Sullivan and his staff need to get their skates on. While the Tories aren’t likely to be a factor in the riding, YSW is traditionally a federal Liberal seat and the Jack Layton effect is sadly no more.

Nunziata on the Liquor Licensing Steering Committee

Will Frances Nunziata sit across from or beside her brother, a political lobbyist, when they sit at the table of new Liquor Licensing Steering Committee?

In the past, Frances Nunziata has been hard on bars and restaurants and has also—justifiably—come down on after-hours clubs. Now, though, she will be pushed by her brother to lighten up on them.

Until last year, the city also closely regulated applicants and frequently put extra conditions on them.  In August, however, the province told Toronto it would stop enforcing those conditions, and the city, in response, stopped processing applications. To resolve the impasse, committees were created.

Frances Nunziata was nominated to this sub-committee last week, along with four other councillors. Her nomination will be confirmed by City Hall.

John Nunziata, Weston’s storied former MP, and Frances’ brother, has had a long and controversial history, and he now works as a lobbyist for, among others, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel Motel Association. The association has already said that it wants to work with the city’s new committees  “to find ways to … not prohibit growth”.

 

New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

There is a saying that ‘All politics is local‘. Here in Weston, we are blessed with politicians and three levels of government that don’t neglect to tax us in various ways yet seemingly invest little in our neighbourhood.

This is my personal list for our politicians and even for the citizens of Weston. Readers are encouraged to add their own contributions.

There is much that is wrong with Weston and at the same time reason for optimism. Weston looks tired and could be so much more. Nobody likes to shop in a run down area yet customers are the life blood of stores. The type of main street layout seen along Weston Road is the basis of revitalization in Bloor West Village and other parts of the city. It’s one thing to attack political opponents for criticizing Weston’s appearance but as recent Council candidate Dory Chalhoub pointed out, the reality of litter strewn streets, empty stores and dilapidated signage stares us in the face every day.

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Bicycle (and skate) maker CCM went bankrupt in 1983 and yet we still use the slogan ‘Home of the Bicycle’.

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Our slogan could just as legitimately be ‘Home of the Skate’ or ‘Home of Bankruptcy’, or even… ‘Home of the B.I.A. (Weston Village Business Improvement Area is one of the oldest and has been going since 1979).

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Weston BIA Resolutions:

1. Come up with a plan to replace the tired bicycle logos and ‘Home of the Bicycle’ slogan with something more meaningful to Weston – perhaps along the lines of our proximity to the Humber and beautiful parkland.

2. Encourage BIA members to take advantage of the City of Toronto’s financial support for sign replacement.

3. Members should keep their properties in good order and clean up litter on a daily basis.

3. Work on schemes that will boost attendance at the Weston Farmers Market.

4. Stores that sit vacant for months on end do nothing for the community and lower custom in remaining stores. Contact owners and find creative ways of beautifying vacant storefronts and using empty space.

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Frances Nunziata: Resolutions:

1. Focus on the appearance of Weston through the B.I.A. and similar organizations as well as money from the City.

2. Work to reduce litter and visual pollution along Weston’s business areas.

3. Revitalize the Weston Farmers’ Market.

4. Find ways of dealing with empty storefronts that plague our business districts.

5. Continue to look for ways to bring meaningful and well paid employment to Weston.

6. Encourage and facilitate completion of the Humber Trail from Mallaby Park northward.

7. Encourage 12 Division officers to get out of their cars and walk the streets of Weston.

Laura Albanese: Resolutions

1. Use your position to get the Weston Farmers’ Market in on the LCBO pilot project (even though it’s now beginning its second year). This would surely boost attendance.

2. Continue to press Metrolinx to electrify the UP Express and the Kitchener GO line. Also continue your efforts to lower fares on the UP Express with the goal of creating an above ground commuter line that will serve communities along the way.

3. Look for grants that will elevate the poorer parts of the riding and encourage education and prosperity.

4. Look for a way to establish a government office in Weston. This will boost employment and stimulate local business.

5. Investigate the possibility of attracting a community college or university campus to Weston.

6. Work with Councillor Nunziata to encourage and facilitate completion of the Humber Trail from Mallaby Park northward.

Mike Sullivan: Resolutions

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1. It’s great that you have a constituency office here in Weston. Set an example by freshening the paint and landscaping its exterior. Use the business directly across the street as your model.

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2. Continue to bring matters pertaining to Weston to the attention of the community and the appropriate representative. No, your party is not in government; we get that. Yes, we understand you’re a federal politician, not a provincial politician or the city councillor. As an MP, your mandate is to help and facilitate matters for all your constituents and not be hung up about jurisdictions.

3. Work in conjunction with colleagues from the other levels of government to reduce the levels of crime and poverty in Weston.

4. Call attention to the role of payday loan companies and their predatory effects on the poor.

4. Continue to call attention to the Harper Government’s attack on the environment with particular emphasis on how it affects Westonians.

Citizens of Weston: Resolutions

1. We need to stop lamenting the past glories of Weston and move on. We have an active Historical Society that helps us celebrate the past. The only thing we can change is the future.

2. A vibrant shopping district needs people who will take the trouble to patronize its stores. Don’t expect stores to sell us what we want without actually visiting and spending money.

3. Crime levels in Weston are lower than in many areas of Toronto. Get out of the SUV. The walk will do us good.

4. Politicians have no idea what we think unless we tell them. Don’t be shy.

Weston Business Improvement Area: Phone: 416-249-0691

Laura Albanese: Phone: 416-243-7984

Frances Nunziata: Phone: 416-392-4091

Mike Sullivan: Phone: 416-656-2526

 

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.

A contrast in Nomination Meetings this weekend

Political junkies will be in their element this weekend which will see York South-Weston Liberals and N.D.P. nominate candidates for the upcoming federal election.

Federal NDP:

On Friday, local New Democrats will gather to officially acclaim incumbent Mike Sullivan as their candidate for the election scheduled to take place next October. The meeting takes place at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Toronto headquarters, located at 47 Densley Avenue, in the Keele/Lawrence area. The start-time is 7:30 p.m. Halifax MP and NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie, will be the guest speaker.

Only current NDP members who live in York South-Weston are eligible to vote at the meeting, but members of the public are welcome.
For more information, call the York South–Weston NDP hotline at 416-244-3349.

Federal Liberals:

On Sunday, at Weston Collegiate Institute, 100 Pine Street, these six candidates will compete for the nomination to replace former MP Alan Tonks who was defeated by Mike Sullivan in 2011:

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

Candidate speeches begin at 3pm and rounds of voting will begin at 2pm and take place until the winner receives more than 50% of the vote. Liberal Party members resident in York South-Weston are eligible to vote.

Federal Conservatives:

Once WestonWeb receives news of the Conservative nomination meeting, we’ll amend this article and post the date and time.

Nunziata retains Speaker job.

Brand new mayor John Tory released his ‘cabinet’ list yesterday and some of the councillors on the list have people scratching their heads. As expected, there are many right of centre appointments.

The good news: Giorgio Mammoliti was not mentioned. While there are others in Tory’s new inner circle for whom the term ‘clown’ might be a bit harsh, there is no denying that people like Denzil Minnan-Wong, Cesar Palacio and Vince Crisanti seem more interested in self-promotion than improving the fortunes of their constituents.

Our own councillor Frances Nunziata has been removed from the Toronto Police Services Board but retains the post of Speaker. Perhaps with one fewer Ford in the chamber, the circus atmosphere that prevailed for much of the past four years may be replaced with one more collegial.

Maybe we shouldn’t be too harsh when judging Mr. Tory’s selection. after all, he never hid his political views and he is entitled to appoint whomever he wishes. Perhaps his selections are being guided by the philosophy of U.S President Lyndon Johnson when referring to J. Edgar Hoover:

it’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.

See the full team list here.