Tory defends the indefensible.

Mayor John Tory and homeowner Dave Bennett. From CP24.
Mayor John Tory and homeowner Dave Bennett. From CP24.

An interesting little charade was taking place yesterday in Weston. The Mayor and Councillor Nunziata were here to extol the virtues of keeping property taxes low. Never mind that Toronto’s budget is facing a $516 million shortfall next year and that Council has a backlog of $33 billion in capital projects with possibly $11 billion still to be added for transportation. Never mind that in our city, the average detached home owner occupies a $1.66 million home.

To support the Mayor and Councillor’s viewpoint,  a press conference was arranged in front of Weston resident Dave Bennett’s lovely home where Dave was quoted as saying that his property tax bill is ‘one of the biggest bills he gets’. Tory chimed in to state that property taxes were good for things like services but shouldn’t go towards capital expenditures (presumably like his completely useless $3 billion one-stop subway in Scarborough that we’re already paying for via a 0.5% property tax levy).

This is the mayor, aided and abetted by our own councillor who would rather cut city services across the board by 2.6% than impose a meaningful property tax increase. When services are cut, it’s the poor who suffer the most. TTC cuts, library cuts, parks cuts, police cuts, social program cuts and public housing budget cuts affect the poor disproportionally. Also look for user fees to be increased in the new year. In the meantime, those of us who own a home, from the most humble of condos in Rexdale to palatial mansions in Rosedale are spared an above-inflation increase in the lowest property taxes in the Province. Coming soon, (and this apparently is a good thing) tolls will be imposed on drivers using the Don Valley and Gardiner routes into town but instead of boosting the TTC budget in anticipation of higher passenger loads, a 2.6% budget reduction will ensure that fares are higher, routes are cut and buses and subways are crowded and even more uncomfortable.

Interestingly, York South Weston’s Ward 11 residents paid only $35 million in property tax last year compared to Toronto Centre-Rosedale whose residents paid $151 million. Most of Weston’s residents would dearly love to be in the fortunate position of directly paying property taxes* and contributing to the City’s budget but unfortunately they can’t afford to buy a home. User fees and transit costs will rise and programs designed to help people better themselves and eventually move onto the property ladder are being gutted by this idiotic strategy.

All this so that John Tory can say he didn’t raise property taxes above inflation and be re-elected in 2018.

Here’s an article and video of yesterday’s event from CP24.

*A whole other article; renters indirectly pay triple the rate that homeowners pay.

Oak street fight draws attention

The proposed development at the Satin Finish site is generating opposition, and getting the attention of the downtown media.

8 Oak

The CBC covered the controversial plan to radically increase the number of homes on the formerly industrial site:

“This is not community-building. This is congestion, more cars and crowded schools.” The stakes, and tempers, rose last month when residents were told that the company’s original 99-unit proposal has now more than quintupled to 500-plus units, and a nursing home.

Thanks to TZ for the tip!

New development announced

Frances Nunziata’s email circular announced a new proposed development
in Weston: The Humber.

The affordable condominium complex is proposed for 10 Wilby Crescent, near the river and Lions Park. 23285-81106If that address rings a bell, it’s because The Riverstone, a smaller, 10-storey development, was proposed for the location several years ago.

The newer development is both ofhtaller and denser, with 234 units. To be built as proposed, it will require a planning exemption, to allow for 16-storeys.

To make the homes affordable, UrbanToronto says that the developer will minimize common amenities and use an unusual financing model:

The condominium units are sold at cost …. Options for Homes retains a second mortgage equal to the difference between the condominium unit’s market value and its purchase price. Condominium buyers do not make payments on the second mortgage but instead repay it when the unit is sold, which deters “buy and flip” speculators.. Options for Homes shares in the market appreciation of units in proportion to the value of the second mortgage.

 

 

Major Weston Property Deal Being Cooked…Ramifications all round

Ever since Scotiabank pulled the plug on its Weston and Lawrence location, speculation has been mounting regarding the future of the corner site. It’s a bit of a historic building in its own right and might even be preserved in some form when redevelopment inevitably takes place.

When the discussions (Charettes) around planning for the UP Express were taking place back in 2011-12, the site was bandied about as having a possible future institutional use – perhaps a community college (George Brown) or a YMCA facility – later deep-sixed by the YMCA themselves. George Brown’s objection was that without all day GO Train service, the location would not be considered. Now that we have (a sort of) all-day service and as an added bonus the newly affordable UP Express, perhaps the college will reconsider but it may be too late.

Next door to the Scotiabank site, the Weston Park Baptist Church (WPBC) community has made no secret that they would be interested in selling up, together with their parking lot received as a donation several years ago. They also expressed an interest in being part of any new development of the site. Incidentally, the WPBC parking lot saved the Farmers Market’s bacon earlier this season when in spite of years of advanced notice, Metrolinx puzzlingly fell mute on permission to use the UP Express parking lot on Saturdays. At short notice, Weston Park’s minister saved the day and the market was able to operate on WPBC land until Metrolinx’s vast bureaucracy was prodded into spitting out the necessary paperwork.

Added together, these two locations plus any land that Metrolinx throws in, would form a site with considerable development potential. In the original Charette plans, it was deemed that the street frontages of any new buildings on Weston and Lawrence would be low to mid-rise while anything built further back from Weston Road near the tracks could go higher. Rumour has it that a deal has been in the works for some time and that once the details are carved in stone, the public will be invited to comment.

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The site as imagined in 2012.

We all know by now that City building guidelines go out the window whenever a developer offers a few crumbs to the community so cynical readers will know to expect some tall residential buildings on that corner. Add a rubber stamp from the ever-so-accommodating Weston Village Residents’ Association (representing a tiny fraction of the thousands of people in Weston) and yet another golden opportunity will have been lost.

One side-effect of having the WPBC parking lot out of commission is that in 2018, the Farmers Market will be dragged kicking and screaming back to a much smaller space in the newly built and pristine Weston Hub. Unlike the current set-up, space will be at a premium so traders’ vehicles will have to be parked relatively far away. Traders are very unhappy about this. Removing the WPBC parking lot as an alternate site will reduce the possibility of a mutiny on the part of these traders, a feisty and vociferous bunch who have enjoyed increased sales at the more visible Weston Road location and are murmuring about boycotting the new Hub site. This lack of an alternative location will be a win for Councillor Nunziata who would have some ‘splainin’ to do if the ‘Farmers’ were able to boycott the new digs. It still remains to be seen whether or not the traders (some of whom are actual farmers) will be able to fit into the smaller spaces more suited to selling pickled condiments than pumpkins and unshucked corn.

Whatever happens, you can guarantee that the people who actually live, work and shop in Weston will be the last ones to be consulted or informed.

City recommends against fence on MacDonald

City staff are again recommending against closing the laneway between Lawrence and Macdonald—an issue that has been ongoing for several months.

The laneway in question
The laneway in question

Some residents complained that it draws “illegal and antisocial behaviours”.

As the report says, closing the laneway would provide “the abutting landowners with the benefits of a private lane, while being maintained by the City. The disadvantages of closing the lane include the removal of an efficient transportation link for a significant number of pedestrians between Lawrence Avenue West and MacDonald Avenue, including the local high school”.

The issue should be decided at the October 13 Etobicoke York Community Council. It will then go before City Hall.

 

8 Oak development changing

The developers of the Satin Finish property are asking for more density and far more units, according to Frances Nunziata. They would like

fourteen 3-storey townhouses fronting Oak Street, two 8-storey mid-rise apartment buildings, a 6-storey retirement residence, and a park fronting Knob Hill Drive.

1

This plan is quite a bit different from the original. Before, the developers wanted only townhouses; now, the bulk of the property is given over to apartment buildings. Townhouses front only Oak Street.

There will be more residents, too: 509 units instead of 99 townhomes.

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The new plan

The old plan also had four roads onto Knob Hill Drive. The new plan has only two. Traffic on that road is already occasionally pretty bad; it’s hard to see how this is an improvement.

The new plan does include a central park, whereas the old plan had only one out-of-the-way  play area.

The old plan
The old plan