Article in The Star on Metrolinx’s expropriation plans

The Star has an article on Metrolinx’s plans to expropriate (or not) the homes near the Georgetown tracks.

The regional transportation agency says the properties are not being expropriated. But it has served notice on nine properties it wants to buy because of their proximity to the tunnel….

If the residents absolutely don’t want to sell, Metrolinx won’t expropriate, [Stephen Lipkus] said. But it will have to look at more expensive and time-consuming construction….

Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne said the notification letter from Metrolinx to homeowners may have caused some misunderstanding. It wasn’t clear, she said, “that in some cases people will be able to stay in their homes, there just will be a lot of disruption.”

“The miscommunication as I understand it. . . that people assumed their home would be expropriated,” she added. “In this case I think there was some confusion.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused Wynne of backtracking under pressure because the letter to one homeowner said Metrolinx was clearly signaling intent to acquire people’s houses.

Profile on Nunziata’s role in the new City Hall

The National Post has an article covering Frances Nunziata, and the power shifts in City Hall.

Councillor Frances Nunziata remembers the old days, when she and mayor-elect Rob Ford routinely called on their peers to cut their budgets or freeze their salaries, only to be laughed down.

“It’s not a joke now, it’s real,” said Ms. Nunziata, a longstanding ally and, she points out, the first member of council to publicly endorse what would become Mr. Ford’s hugely successful bid for office.

Read more:

Two more muggings in Weston area

Reading the police blotter is a depressing business, but it teaches equanimity. There are lots of muggings in Toronto. A few in my neighbourhood is little to be concerned about.

But reading the police blotter is a depressing business, because it teaches how similar man is to the coyote. We attack the weak and in packs.

In the past 48 hours, for instance, two muggings in the Weston area were reported to police. The first was of a 19-year-old young woman. The other was of a 72-year-old man. Both were swarmed by a pack of criminals. Both were assaulted. Happily, neither was left seriously injured.

On Monday, four men attacked the senior citizen at the corner of Wilson and Jane at 6 pm. One of the muggers assaulted him with pushes and slaps before pulling a knife to threaten him. They fled empty-handed.

On Sunday, a young woman was near Pine and Lawrence West when she was approached by three men. One pushed her to the ground while they robbed her of her phone, cash, and transit tokens.

You can view a map of the recent muggings in Weston here.

GO Transit responds

The Weston Community Coalition says GO Transit wants to expropriate six homes in Weston to make space for the Georgetown corridor. Metrolinx would beg to differ. Sort of.

According to Manuel Pedrosa, Community Relations Manager, GO Transit is “not planning to raze any homes. [But] we’ve concluded that one of the best options is to purchase the property during the three to four years that we’ll be building the Weston tunnel.” When asked what GO would do if the homeowners didn’t want to sell, Pedrosa said that they would have to cross that bridge when they got to it. Like other large government agencies, Metrolinx does have the right to expropriate, however.

Pedrosa says that the negotiations with homeowners are at an early stage: “We’re looking at a dialogue with the owners to see what their perspective is. Our first step is to contact them. We’ve been going door to door and calling them to explain what the impacts are.”

The impacts could be severe. Some of the properties are only a few feet away from the construction and might be severely affected, he says. “A couple of properties are only two feet away. So there will be potential damage.”

Pedrosa said that he is “not at liberty to reveal how many homes we have contacted. This a private dialogue between the impacted property owner and Metrolinx.” When I pressed him and made the point that telling the community the number of homes without identifying which ones in no way compromises the privacy of the homeowners, he stuck to his guns.

The meeting tomorrow night will not be focused on the property issues, although GO is willing to discuss it. Instead, GO will discuss the tunnel design, its look and feel, and how it integrates into Weston.

Peter Anan restaurant closes

The dining scene is dismal in Weston. There are few restaurants, and fewer good ones. And now an old standby, Peter Anan Thai Restaurant, has closed.

Peter Anan’s was a strange place. It forewent the bamboo and Buddhas for the style of a 1960s cafe. The food was merely decent, but the prices were fair, the service was excellent, and the owner and staff were kind.

Now the windows are papered over, and Anan has put a sign on the door: “Dear customer, THANK YOU for all the past business.”

Metrolinx now wants to expropriate homes

Metrolinx is now planning to expropriate at least six homes in Weston to make way for the Georgetown line expansion, according to Mike Sullivan, the chair of the Weston Community Coalition and a longtime Weston advocate.

Metrolinx had planned a public meeting this week to discuss the design of the cut-and-cover tunnel that will be put through Weston. The meeting announcement does not mention that they are now planning to expropriate houses, although this is surely the most salient aspect of the design. Further, according to Sullivan, Metrolinx has said in the past that no expropriations would be necessary.

The homes that will be destroyed are between Church and King streets, on both sides of the tracks. They are on King, Church, and Fern.

The meeting will be at Weston Park Baptist Church at 1871 Weston Road on Thursday, October 28, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Everyone is welcome.

What the Ford victory means for Weston

The public wants change. Rob Ford wants to do the changing. But what will this mean for Weston?

My premises, in a nutshell: City services benefit all residents equally, but the rich pay more for them than the poor do. So cutting taxes (or cutting services) helps the rich and hurts the poor. The rich get their money back. Both the rich and poor lose their services.

There are four pillars to Ford’s campaign:

  • Reducing city staff
  • Reducing city budgets
  • Reducing taxes such as the land transfer tax and the car registration fee
  • Outsourcing union jobs and reducing wages

If you are a middle- or upper-class Westonian, Ford’s victory will leave more money in your wallet. But if you’re poor, (and Weston is one of the poorest ridings in the city) the next four years will sting.

Cutting taxes means cutting programs. Ford has been pretty clear that he doesn’t support the Priority Neighbourhood plan that brought millions of dollars into Weston and other poor areas. Weston arts and social-services groups like UrbanArts, Frontlines, and Northwood Neighbourhood Services will likely see cuts.

City staff will also be cut. Ford says that service will remain the same—which is believable only if you think that city staff are indolent, but not so indolent that they will refuse to work harder when they see the people around them disappearing. Perhaps. I’m willing to bet that the poor use city services more that others; certainly they use more employment services, community housing, TTC, and subsidized daycare. Cuts to staff will hurt the working class the most.

Finally, the poor in Weston will not see much tax relief; poor people generally don’t own cars or real estate.  Changes to the vehicle registration tax, the land transfer tax, and property taxes are going to have only indirect effects, if any. Rent increases may not happen as quickly if property taxes do not grow.

But there are good things ahead. There will be more police.  Ford has promised 100 more across the city, and Weston could use some.

Ford has also campaigned on ending ‘the war on cars’ and improving transit with busses. In an inner-burban riding like ours, this could be beneficial in the short run. New bus routes and improved bus service would reach us sooner than an LRT or subway.

More importantly, our re-elected councillor, Frances Nunziata, was one of Ford’s earliest and most vocal supporters. We should expect her to have the mayor’s ear and to hold a position of power. She has said that she would like to be the Speaker in the council. With luck (and focused community pressure) she could use her position for Weston’s advantage.