Weston / Mount Dennis is gentrifying – in spots

There is an interesting article in the Toronto Star today that discusses gentrification, its effects and where it is happening in our city. The article looks at the change in household income between 2006 and 2015 in neighbourhoods across the city. While neither Weston nor Mount Dennis can be classified as gentrified – or even close (yet), there are significant increases in household income in many of our neighbourhoods.

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Warm colours represent larger increases while blue indicates a decrease in household income.

Interestingly, Weston Village is a rare Toronto enclave where incomes have stagnated or even dropped over that 9-year period. That’s not to say that incomes there are low but they’ve not kept up with the rest of the city in that time. In contrast, neighbourhoods along Weston Road seem to have become more prosperous. There is a particular hot spot (+34%) north and south of Lawrence just west of Weston Road but it’s probably too soon to say if the UP Express has had an effect (btw, my neighbours love taking the 14-minute UP Express trip into Toronto for baseball games at the Skydome Rogers Centre.)

Many parts of Mount Dennis, have also seen an above average increase. Again, the 2021 opening of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT may be a factor in this but time will tell.

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The results across the city showed an 18% average increase in household income. Check the Star’s article to see how your neighbourhood compares.

Kodak Lands Generator – Bottom Line

‘If the community doesn’t want it, it won’t be built’.

The words were spoken at the February 29th Transit meeting regarding the proposed (and contentious) natural gas generator that was so recently sprung on the community. A lot was said at the meeting and my report has a lot of information but this is something the community can and should latch on to.

Metrolinx originally wanted to reduce the chances of a power failure along the Crosstown Line by tapping into the power grid in two different places along its length. That way if a local power failure affected one connection (the vast majority of power disruptions are local) the power could be supplied from the other connection to the power grid.

Enter contractor Crosslinx Transit Solutions. They came up with what they thought was a better idea, namely to be totally independent of the grid during a power failure – especially in the rare event of a Province or even region-wide outage. This has happened exactly twice – in 1965 and again in 2003. Their solution was a gas fired (not diesel as was rumoured) generator. This would come to life to provide power during those extremely rare failures.

As an afterthought, Crosslink Transit Solutions proposed that it would also be fired up during times when the power grid was struggling to cope – routinely on a hot day when air conditioning demand stresses the system. Whether there would be money to be made from this and who would make the money are two very good questions. Nevertheless, when private corporations get involved in such matters it pays to be suspicious.

Image from Huffington Post.
Image – Huffington Post.

During those hot muggy days the last thing residents of Weston and Mount Dennis need is to have even more pollution added to the dirty air that traditionally accompanies such weather. In addition, the generator will occupy valuable space on a precious site.

Conclusion: the system doesn’t need it and the community doesn’t want it.

The words by the way came from Metrolinx’s Jamie Robinson, Director, Community Relations and Communications, Toronto Transit Projects. He said,

‘If the community doesn’t want it, it won’t be built’.

Mr. Robinson, we don’t want it. Please don’t build it.

Planning Studies in the works for Weston and Mount Dennis

At the recent Etobicoke York Community Council, two strikingly similar motions were passed. Both give the go-ahead to Toronto City Council to review the current planning framework for two stretches of Weston Road, receive input from the community and report back with recommendations. Here is an extract from the Parke to Wilby stretch:

That Etobicoke York Community Council:
1. Request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to:

  1. undertake a review of the current planning framework for the study area including: built-form, density, height, and public realm of the properties on Weston Road between Parke Street and Wilby Crescent/Wright Avenue;
  2. consult with the community, including landowners and other stakeholder groups, together with the Ward Councillor, to understand the community’s concerns and to develop a vision for future development in the study area; and
  3. report back on the findings of the review and to provide recommendations for changes, if necessary, to the planning framework for the study area.

2. Request that the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning prioritize this planning study on the work program for 2017 or earlier.

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Weston Road from Parke Street to Wilby Crescent
Weston Road from Ray Avenue to Humber Boulevard.
Weston Road from Ray Avenue to Humber Boulevard.

Both reviews are at the prompting of Councillor Frances Nunziata. Read the letter regarding Weston Village here and the one for Mount Dennis here.

According to the councillor, we need to re-visit the planning frameworks because of transportation changes like the UP Express and the Crosstown Line’s new Mount Dennis station.

Call me a cynic but we had a very nice plan for the northern section of Weston Road corridor keeping building heights to between 3 and 8 storeys but it was easily circumvented when the Weston Hub was approved.

Why bother coming up with a ‘vision’ and planning by-laws when these things are carved in jello and so easily put aside?

Photography Drive bridge coming down this Friday.

The bridge and the iconic Kodak recreation building as they looked in March 2012
The bridge over Eglintaon Avenue and the iconic Kodak recreation building as they looked in March 2012

This weekend the bridge over Eglinton Avenue will be demolished to eventually make way for the new Mount Dennis Crosstown Station. The bridge has been closed for well over a decade.  The demo will necessitate the closing of Eglinton between Black Creek and Weston road between 9pm this Friday (19th February) and 11pm on Sunday (21st). For more information look herehere and at the video below.

Feedback on maintenance yard needed.

Here is a conceptual view of the TTC rail yard slated to occupy the Kodak Lands site.

The original Kodak building will be preserved on the site.

Next to the site is a proposed bus terminal to serve as a transportation hub.

The bus terminal, rail tracks and Eglinton Crosstown LRT all converge here.

Conspiracy theorists have said that the junction of the GO train line / Airport Link with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in combination with the bus terminal plans will mean that Weston Station will be temporary. They think that the ultimate plan is to build a GO station in this location and render Weston Station unnecessary.

This would be even more outrageous than claiming that electrification of the Kitchener rail line / ARL has to wait for an environmental assessment.

Residents are invited to comment on the whole document but (sorry for the late notice) get your skates on. Feedback is required by July 10.