According to an article in the Globe and Mail, between the December quarters of 2014 and 2015, Toronto home prices increased by 9.04%. During that same period, the price of homes sold in the Weston M9N postal code jumped from an average of $367,045 in the quarter ending December 2014 to $464,958, a startling increase of 26.7%. The M6M code to the west which includes part of Mount Dennis has done even better with an average increase of 33.2%.
What does this mean? Weston and Mount Dennis are among the last few relatively affordable areas left in Toronto. Compared to the rest of the city, prices are low and people are desperate to get into the housing market. Homes are being snapped up before they become out of reach.
The Mount Dennis newsletter has a lot of great stuff, including, bestill my heart, a disputation on bicycles. The MDCA is asking the city staff to build a “Railpath North” from downtown through the Junction to Mount Dennis, among other things.
The Railpath, if you haven’t had the pleasure, is a bike highway that along the tracks in the downtown west end. It’s fantastic. Extending it would be an enormous benefit to us. Right now, getting to the west end safely is impossible; to ride on Jane is to hate life. Yet,
A dedicated rail‐side multi‐use path [could] be built from Ray Ave. to Rogers Road. This will allow cyclists to avoid the hill as well as the dangerous Weston / Black Creek intersection… With some creative engineering, it could connect through the Junction to the existing Railpath.
The MDCA says they have also got an agreement from Metrolinx that the new bridge over Eglinton will “safely accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians…with full separation from the busy bus‐way”
But why stop there? Weston and Mount Dennis are bike barren, and they needn’t be. York, where I work, is almost an easy bike commute, and our neighbourhood is an ideal community for employees: there’s an express bus to campus (where parking is a fortune) and we nearly have the infrastructure in place; all it would take is a safe route along Wilson—which, according to the city’s plans, we may get.
Tie it together with a safe route along Albion, and we are in business: a bike commuter’s paradise, with a short ride to Humber, York, the Junction and downtown.
The Satin Finish Company owners are hoping to build 99 three-storey townhouses on the site. They were rebuffed in their initial—and, honestly, quite reasonable—request to change the zoning to allow residential development. They’re now taking their case to the Ontario Municipal Board.
The Satin Finish subdivision as proposed has problems:
It doesn’t have enough shared green space
It has only one playground
It’s poorly connected to the rest of the neighbourhood, with only one street entrance
There is little effort to preserve the beautiful buildings
That said, it’s hard to argue that these should remain employment lands; homes have already popped up all around them, and a new factory in their midst would be disruptive.
Frances Nunziata has clarified the status of the 150-year-old Weston Road church that is up for sale. St John’s Anglican, which is listed in the Heritage Properties database, is not a designated heritage property. It is for sale for $1,650,000.
A listed building is protected from demolition by a part of the Ontario Heritage Act that requires an owner to provide the City with a minimum of 60 days advance notice of an intention to demolish, at which point Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) would then initiate the process to have the property given heritage designation. HPS has been notified that the land is now up for sale and they will be monitoring the address.
It takes a lot of work to give landlords a bad name, but the Korce Group, owners of 29 Church Street, are taking a run at it.
The apartment building has long had issues with garbage, and rather than put money into fixing the problems, they fight City Hall.
The OMB ordered the owners to build a 5′ wooden fence to control their garbage in 2005. Korce never did. Instead, in 2015 (ten years after the original order), they put in a hedge, which neither does the job of retaining garbage nor complies with the law. After a decade of disregarding the OMB’s order, they have asked the city to give them permission to continue breaking the law.
The application, thank goodness, was denied by Etobicoke York Community Council this week due to neighbourhood opposition.
The cedar fence reduced visibility for automobiles, because it was planted next to the driveway. There are two schools nearby and school children, among others, use the sidewalk.
Also, the garbage is simply a mess, and it has been so for years. Google Street View tells no lies: for at least 5 years, waste management has been getting progressively worse. Click through and then click on “Jul 2015” to see the history yourself.
Councillor Nunziata asked community council this week to ensure that there are “ongoing enforcement (and related charges) at this property” in line with city bylaws.
Now that the dust has settled after October’s Federal Election, I was curious as to how former York South-Weston Member of Parliament, Mike Sullivan was adjusting to the new reality of being a regular citizen once more. He agreed to an in-depth interview and we sat down last Friday over coffees in a busy Perfect Blend Bakery. We touched on four main topics that have been published over the last few days.
The fourth and final issue that we discussed was Weston’s recently closed hospital.
4. The Church Street, former Humber River Regional Hospital Site.
The Humber River Hospital’s three campus locations have closed to be replaced by a brand new hospital at Wilson and Keele. In preparation for the closing of our local Church Street site, the Hospital Board went ahead with plans to sell the site to the highest bidder. Some people then pointed out that a significant chunk of the original site was a bequest with the proviso that the land would be used for a Weston hospital in perpetuity. The matter is now before the courts.
Sullivan sees a solution in the way other parts of the province have handled their hospital closings,
What should happen is the Province pays the appropriate price for the property and turns it into a long term care facility which they have already done in Parry Sound and Ottawa and other places where hospitals that have been decommissioned have become long term care facilities. According to (York South-Weston MPP) Ms. Albanese, it’s not as simple as one arm of the province buying the hospital from another. She said that the hospital is entirely run by a private corporation that has nothing to do with the province and that corporation can do whatever it wants with the land. Martin Proctor challenged her strongly on this at a meeting and pointed out that it was the folks in Weston that contributed and added on to that hospital over many years and now they are losing that resource. What appears to have happened is that the Province has separated itself from hospitals by declaring them corporations run by an independent board who the Province then paid 2 billion dollars to build a new one on the understanding that the board would raise 200 million of its own by selling the land and other fundraising.
The province can correct its mistake by saying that the land which is worth about 20 million can be forgiven to the Hospital Board of Directors and the province take over the property but Ms. Albanese wasn’t going there.
They’ve got to build long term care facilities anyway – somebody has to. There’s a 1 year wait list for long-term care facilities and people will die on that list. Why are we ignoring a great potential? I understand that the Province wants privately run long-term care facilities but surely if the land is available they can find a developer who is willing to do that.
I spoke to Rueben Devlin (HRRH CEO) about that possibility and he told me it could never be a long-term care facility because the rules are so strict it wouldn’t meet the current standards. But then how did they do it in Parry Sound and Ottawa? The province has grandparented other buildings why wouldn’t they do that in Weston rather than tearing it down and building a condo tower. SuOn College is very interested in the site. They’re bursting at the seams and are looking to expand.
There would be no rezoning needed as it is zoned institutional. The fly in the ointment is that the city owns part of the site and the hospital was very quick to go to court over that and are suing the city to try and keep title of the land with the Hospital. Frances had a plan for some kind of trade that would allow the city to keep some parkland somewhere in exchange for the land. Her wonderful deal with Cruickshank Section 37 money didn’t buy a community amenity – it bought drainage in Swanek park which the City was going to pay for anyway.
I contacted York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese and she confirmed that currently the site is zoned institutional. She also confirmed that hospitals are not fully funded by the province but communities are expected to have an investment in their hospital by raising 10% of the funding. The sale of the Church Street Site would go towards that community contribution. Under the current setup, long term care facilities are managed by not-for-profit corporations, indirectly connected with the Ontario Government. In order to use that as a solution, there has to be an expression of interest from such an entity and to date there has been none. She also mentioned that until the ownership of the deeded land on the HRRH site is settled, nothing is likely to proceed.
She did say that the Keele Street Hospital Campus has been sold to developer Daniels Corporation and the plan is to build some institutional facilities along with low-rise housing.
Having a similar outcome for Weston probably wouldn’t be too terrible, but who knows – with the way things are done in this city, the vision, accompanied by beautiful architectural drawings and the reality are often two entirely different things. Can you say Weston Cultural Hub?
Thanks to Mike Sullivan for agreeing to do this and to MPP Laura Albanese for her response.
As expected, the Weston Cultural Hub cleared its final hurdle at the full meeting of Toronto City Council without amendment and the way is open for implementation. Here is another look at some of the financial juggling that makes the Hub possible:
All figures approximated for simplicity.
$2.1 million from selling the old GO parking lot
$3.3 million in Section 37 and similar contributions from the developer
0.54 million grants from the City Parks fund to Artscape
$3.9 million to Artscape from the Canada / Ontario affordable Housing Fund
$0.22 million to Artscape from waived development fees
$0.64 million from Affordable Housing to develop and adapt 6 affordable, accessible one-bedroom units in the rental building
Total: ~ $10 million.
Most of this money is to be directed towards the 26 live / work artists accommodations as well as the lease subsidy for the first 50 years. In addition, the 26 units will be exempted from property taxes.
The developer is being asked to provide a letter of credit for about $10 million that will be reduced as building progresses. If the developer is unable to get everything in place by July 2016 (permits etc. in preparation for construction) the City reserves the right to cancel the project or boost the funding.
$1.0 million from council has been set aside to pay for acquisitions costs (not the actual acquisition) and remediation of the vacant land at 14 John Street purchased to provide additional parking.
In all, the City did quite nicely as on the plus side they pulled in $2.1 million from the GO parking lot sale but are paying out $1 million for 14 John Street remediation costs plus whatever they paid for the expropriation of 14 John Street (how much did the City pay? – Does anyone know?) plus $1.1 million in grants.
We’ll keep readers posted of any developments as they are announced.
In response to a question by Dan Harris inquiring as to the whereabouts of a $1 or $1.1 million grant from Metrolinx, a quick search revealed a document from February 2012 that states,
“Metrolinx recently made a $1 million cash contribution to the City which will be used to develop and establish a Cultural/Creative Hub in Weston. The Social Development, Finance and Administration Division is directing a companion report to Executive Committee on February 13, 2012, in order to seek authority to receive the said funds.”
The million was awarded several months before the City’s TPA put the GO parking lot up for sale and may have been absorbed into general funds. If true, the million dollar contribution could mean that the City is actually making money on the Hub project.