Mount Dennis Eco-neighbourhood Update

Our friend Mike Mattos from the Mount Dennis Community Association would like our readers to have an update on the recent activities of the organization:

After the enthusiastic start for our Neighbourhood Climate Action Project with the Mount Dennis Town Hall on Government Climate Plans, help February 26, 2020, our efforts to organize the Climate Action Summit this Springtime were overtaken by the COVID-19 emergency.  It is still uncertain when Toronto’s social distancing regulations will be relaxed, but we are hoping it will be possible to hold our participatory community event in the fall.

Meanwhile, progress is being made towards meeting ecoNeighbourhood goals on a wide range of topics including transportation, energy, buildings, waste management, environmental health and the green economy.  Here are some significant examples:

  • Since agreeing in 2015 to electrify the rail corridor that runs through Mount Dennis, Metrolinx has had a stated goal of replacing the diesel trains now used for GO Rail and UP Express services with electric trains by 2025.  Infrastructure Ontario has recently issued tenders for improvements to this corridor and for service connections to the new Mount Dennis Mobility Hub.  They are calling for alternative solutions using two technologies, overhead grid connection or on-board hydrogen fuel cells.
  • DynaCert, an innovative green manufacturer in Mount Dennis, locally produces a hydrogen injection system that makes diesel engines of all sizes more energy efficient with lower unwanted emissions.  DynaCert recently announced a major order from the US for its HydroGEN units
  • Two years ago, a committee of knowledgeable local cyclists (including several MDCA Board members) worked with Councillor Nunziata and her staff to send City Council wide-ranging  plans for improving conditions for cycling in our area. Later this year the City is expected to start building a bike lane from Jane St. to Weston Rd. (mostly along the north side of Eglinton). Bike lanes further east along Eglinton to are expected to be in place by the time the LRT opens in 2022.
  • The City of Toronto recently awarded a planning contract to guide future development activity in our area. The Mount Dennis Land Use Planning Framework Study will be carried out by the highly regarded consultant Perkins + Will, which has already started work. Number 2 on their project’s list of twelve objectives is “to support establishing Mount Dennis as an ecoNeighbourhood”.
  • Partners in Project Green have been holding a series of webinars on linking the environment to the economy. Here is a link to their latest, Building a Business Case for Green Infrastructure. The Black Creek Channel along the south end of Mount Dennis is Toronto’s highest flood risk area, and fixing it could revitalize the Alliance Avenue business area.
  • Community Benefits are a feature in tendering for government contracts. It creates employment, training and small business opportunities for people from “priority neighbourhoods” such as Mount Dennis. Members of MDCA’s Board are among the people who have been actively working to make sure Community Benefits become an integrated part of the economic system. Unfortunately, lobbyists for private contractors are pressuring Ottawa to remove such provisions. Part of creating a sustainable economy in an ecoNeighbourhood is ensuring that opportunities are inclusive and prosperity is shared equitably.  Please help maintain Community Benefits as government policy as it stimulates economic recovery.

One more thing…

Residents are asked to fill in this youth engagement survey so that the area’s post-secondary needs can be assessed.

Castlepoint Weston issues video

Based on recent development proposals, Weston is about to undergo dramatic change. One proposal deals with the buildings at 1871 and 1885 Weston Road, which are currently occupied by the former Scotiabank branch and the current Weston Park Baptist Church. Read more background here, here, here and here.

The first public consultation for the development was a love-fest, with the church and developer promising a partnership with the community. The second meeting (held virtually) fleshed out the results of the public input and it emerged that in exchange for some goodies such as a performance hall / church, better station entrance, gym, ground floor retail and meeting place, the price of admission would be two very tall apartment towers at 28 and a new precedent-setting 38 storeys.

Perhaps as a result of some negativity and disappointment concerning the height of the apartment towers, Castlepoint has issued a YouTube video video called ‘Weston Park, a Centre for the Community’. The video was created as part of the Official Plan Amendment (“OPA”) and Zoning By-Law (“ZBL”) application submitted to the City of Toronto on October 29, 2021.

Readers can view the video below and comment on the content if watched on YouTube directly.

On the one hand, the video is compelling animation of the artist concept images. On the other, there’s no doubt that even the best laid plans can go awry.

In an article published 5 days ago in Renx, a real estate publication, Castlepoint Vice-President Elsa Fancello, said in regard to the Weston project, “We likely won’t do traditional affordable housing on that site. What we’re looking to explore further with WoodGreen (Community Services) is affordable workforce housing that’s almost like rent-geared-to-income for professionals who work at the airport or other nearby industries.”

Follow up: Local blogger Hans Havermann tells me that On December 2nd, he wrote a comment on Castlepoint’s YouTube creation (above) suggesting that the proximity of the development to the upcoming Crosstown Line had been exaggerated on the map used in the video.

Today, (December 5), comments (including his) were turned off.

Can we hope they were exaggerating about the height of the towers too?

Screenshot from Castlepoint’s YouTube video. (Click to enlarge.)

Johnny Strides does Weston

Johnny Strides is a prolific, ‘Toronto based youtube channel that focuses on walking, cycling, transit videos and livestreams in the city.’ Recently the channel did a tour of Weston, beginning in Cruickshank Park and walking down Rogers Road Weston Road to the UP Express / GO stations and doubling back to Lawrence.

“Johnny” misses Weston Village and its beautiful homes entirely after a tantalizing glimpse along Church Street when he emerges from Cruickshank Park. The gratuitous use of ‘troubled’ in the title didn’t win me over either. On the plus side, he does seem to do a fair amount of homework on the area and discusses that as he walks through. He gets a bit bogged down in the station areas before heading to Lawrence for his bus home.

The comments on the video are quite interesting. One commenter from Philadelphia noted that, “For a neighborhood with a bad reputation it certainly doesn’t look bad at all… coming from a person from Philadelphia which is sooo much worse. I do think Weston could use some greenery though.”

Westonians may wish to offer “Mr. Strides” some suggestions for another video on Weston. Watch the walk through below.

Two new food franchises coming to Weston.

Walking along Weston Road on Sunday, two new franchise eateries were in evidence. One is Osmows; advertising ‘Modern Mediterranean Cuisine’ and at 1971 Weston, the other is Fahmee Bakery – a Jamaican / West Indian specialty dish take out restaurant with mainly good reviews on Yelp. Fahmee’s top dishes (according to Yelp reviewers) are jerk chicken, jerk pork and spiced beef patties. Fahmee has no web presence and their Landsdowne location couldn’t tell me when they’re opening here. This is the former location of Perfect Blend that sadly closed in September.

Fahmee Bakery at 1971 Weston.
Osmow’s at Weston and Elsmere.

Osmow’s is a large chain founded by Sam Osmow in 2001. Specializing in shawarmas and wraps, they have an extensive menu that might complement the Greek dishes at P&Ms. They’re setting up at Elsmere and Weston in the old TD bank location. Readers may remember that TD moved (all but a machine) back in 2018.

When news about opening dates comes in I’ll post it here.

Update: Dolkar Tenpa at Osmow’s Head Office tells me that they’re hoping to open next month.

An update

Thank you to all the kind people who emailed me. You’re too much. And thank you to those who gave suggestions and helped me clarify my thoughts a bit.

To be clear, it’s not (just) the comments that have got me down. Here’s a notification I received last week from my computer:

As you may know, I’m a college teacher. It’s a great job and a privilege, but it has meant spending a lot more time on screens since the pandemic began. And, of course, when I’m not working, I’m often computing one thing or another.

I honestly find that screen time number hard to believe, but even if the number is off, I feel like I’ve been spending 12 hours online. I know I’m not alone!

Adding WestonWeb to that—well, honestly, it was too much. I just wasn’t doing as good a job as I think I should.

Anyway, I’m going to take another week off and try to get some more sun on my face. I hope you can, too.