No tunnel noise walls

Weston is about to get much noisier. Metrolinx is abandoning its plans to build some of the noise walls that would have dampened noise from the new airport trains.

Manuel Pedrosa, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, says that “planned noise walls were not technically and economically feasible to be built on the Weston Tunnel Walls. The noise walls, as designed, are too heavy to be attached to the Weston Tunnel wall”. (Emphasis mine.)

Pedrosa says there will be no noise walls on the “strutted area” of the tunnel. This includes the areas between, roughly, John and Queenslea (in purple).

  weston_rendering1-1000x750 (1)Westontunnel

It is not yet clear whether there will be noise walls in the other areas of the Weston tunnel (in red). Pedrosa said “We are currently reviewing the constructability [sic] of the other planned noise walls in the area”; I have asked him for clarification. I have also asked him to clarify the effects on nearby properties and the farmers’ market.

In the Junction, they do not want walls, but they’re getting them. In Weston, we want them but we are told we can’t have them.

29 Church wants a break on garbage bylaws

The landlord at 29 Church has asked the city to not enforce the bylaws about on-site garbage.

The city told the landlord, Korce Group, to build screens around its outdoor waste storage. Korce argues, among other things, that

  • they are being unfairly singled out,
  • the city issued order in November, when construction is difficult, and without asking nicely first
  • they have been managing garbage in the same way for 20 years

Korce is asking the city to quash or set aside the order until May of next year.

29 Church

From Google Street View

The city also told Korce to fix the fences around the property. Korce has asked for the same break.

Leaf collection creates stir

Who knew? Only parts of Toronto get mechanical leaf collection. In fact, only parts of Weston get leaf collection.  Few streets north of Church get it, and no street south of the village does. Now Frances Nunziata is pushing the apparent unfairness of this; she and InsideToronto are saying that the city needs to be more equitable.

From Nunziata's office

Leaf collection in Weston

Nunziata told InsideToronto that “It would make sense that the city should implement it city-wide…. There are some places that you can’t because of on-street parking. But maybe the city should go out and collect the leaves.”

Nonsense. This is great politics, but it’s terrible economics. It would be silly, for instance, to collect leaves on Dundas St W, where I used to live: There are very few trees. It makes much sense to collect them in the Weston where flooding has been a problem (leaves clog catch basins) and there are many trees.

Even my kids know that fairness doesn’t mean treating everyone the same (if it did, we’d have a subway). Fairness means treating people right. It might make perfect economic sense to clear the streets of Weston.

96 John St requests severance

The owners of 96 John Street have asked the city to let them sever their property. Doing so will violate several planning regulations, including

  • The frontages will be less than required
  • The lot areas will be smaller than required
  • The dwellings will take up a larger-than-allowed portion of the lot
  • The lots will not have the required amount of lawn or landscaping
  • The garage will be larger than required

The applicants will be making their case before the committee of adjustment this Thursday at 1:00 pm at the York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West.

Oct 30, 2014 2 3 Oct 30, 2014

Federal Building apartments are ready.

Weston’s old post office, also once known as the Federal Building has had its upper floor renovated by developer Jack Morelli of First Avenue Properties and is now seeking tenants. Readers may remember that across the street, Mr. Morelli is building low-rise condominiums on the old beer store site so these renovations might be some clue as to how he views the neighbourhood’s potential. Readers may also remember that the ground floor of the building will be a medical centre opening next year. WestonWeb took a ‘stickybeak‘ on Tuesday morning during an open house.

Arriving a leisurely half-hour after the event had begun, WestonWeb’s south media team (Roy and Roy) found the front access doors to the apartments were still locked. Since a previous visit in July, even more windows at ground level have been broken. Not an auspicious start. Unable to cool off in a tantalizingly unopened fabulous new coffee shop, a quick scout around the back of the building revealed a door left ajar. A set of terrazzo stairs that have seen better days led to the top floor where a pair of startled agents sprang to their feet and introduced themselves.

First Avenue has gutted the top floor and installed 15 apartments in place of the old offices. There is a choice of one, two or three bedrooms averaging 800 square feet. All apartments and hallways have the same tiled flooring throughout and flat (not textured) 9-foot ceilings. A variety of layouts is available but unfortunately, First Avenue’s definition of a bedroom is sometimes an enclosed space with a door but no window. In one apartment, one of the alleged bedrooms was simply a windowless alcove – a feature described by the agent as flexible. When asked if a windowless bedroom was legal in Toronto, the agent went quiet. When pressed, another awkward silence ensued.

The entrance to Apartment 203

The entrance to Apartment 203

Kitchens are small with formica countertops. The appliances had not yet arrived yet but range hoods appear to be vented to the outside. Bathrooms are standard toilet sink and bath/shower combinations.

The kitchen alcove in Apartment 203.

The kitchen alcove in Apartment 203.

Prices for the apartments range from $900 for a one-bedroom $1050 for a two and $1200 for a three-bedroom. Water is included but heat and hydro are billed extra; heat being supplied via individual apartment furnaces through ceiling vents. Although no laundry facilities are provided in the apartments, a coin laundry room will be available. The lack of air-conditioning could be a problem in summer as windows are quite small. Each unit comes with one parking space.

A windowless bedroom.

A windowless bedroom in Apt 203.

Living room (L) and a bedroom.

The living room (L) and a bedroom of Apt 203.

While no-one will accuse First Avenue Properties of gentrifying Weston, it’s nice to see any reasonable development coming to a formerly empty space in a significant Weston building. Residents will occupy brand new walk-up apartments and have access to a variety of amenities within easy walking distance at an affordable price. The developer might however want to do something about the state of the ground floor exterior which continues to deteriorate.

Condo development–an alternate view

My esteemed colleague, Roy, doesn’t like the proposed condo development at the former Beer Store site. Though I defer to Roy’s considered opinion on many things, about this I disagree; these condos are a fabulous idea.

The black-brick façade might be, ahem, an inspired choice. And three-and-a-half-storey, flat-top buildings are not my first love; they loom. These, though, are primarily aesthetic concerns, and I match plaids, so I’m no judge of beauty. The builder has every incentive to make the buildings attractive, and I trust that they will be nice.

I’m much more in love with the philosophy of the development. First, it’s a brownfield development, the very best kind. Nothing lovely was cut down, torn up, or demolished to make room for it.

Second, townhouses are affordable and create community.

And that is the best part of this new development. The way I see it¹, right now, Weston is two towns². There are the large, often unattractive, generally affordable rental buildings. With many exceptions, people in these buildings are passing through, and often don’t have a strong sense of community.

Then there are the single-family detached houses. They are lovely, old, expensive, and foster an almost cultish community. (I love the cult, to be sure, but nobody would say we are a diverse set of well-adjusted people.)

This new condos could bridge the two groups. The homes will be affordable. The many people who find a $650,000 fixer-upper a little insane³ will able to buy in Weston.

And we want those people. People who own have every incentive to make their community better. And people who own 500-square-foot affordable condos might just be more interesting, entrepreneurial, and—yes—fun than the rest of us.

These condos are the start of a new kind of building in Weston. They might also be the start of a new sort of community.

————————

¹That’s a nice way of saying “I have no data to back this up”

² With a huge number of exceptions.

³ i.e. sane people