Did you know….?

An UP Express train at Weston Station (file).

Metrolinx has just published news of increased GO Train speeds along the Kitchener Line, specifically through Guelph. Speeds will be increasing from the current snail’s pace to slightly faster. What caught my eye was that the changes were given in miles per hour. Apparently all railways in Canada must measure their speeds in the old Imperial system – which might explain some of their other idiosyncrasies.

In the same blog article was a warning that trespassers can be hit with a fine of $5000. Cor blimey mate, that’s almost £3000 in old money!

Development Charge overhaul

Cities used to develop organically. Once streets were laid down and divided into lots, neighbourhoods developed through general consensus. Noisy and smelly industrial areas were generally built away from residential areas and as cities expanded they relied heavily on businesses to provide the needed services and amenities. Nowadays, businesses pay a shrinking share of revenues to the city. To replace those lost revenues, Toronto uses development charges applied when new homes and businesses are constructed. Here are the amounts the city charges for new residential units.

Single homes & Semis $87,299

Multiples 2+ Bedrooms $72,158

Multiples 1 Bed and Bach. $36,198

Apartments 2+ Bedrooms $51,103

Apartments 1 Bed and Bachelor $33,358

Dwelling Room $23,660

These charges are applied regardless of the size of the home or the value of the land they are built on. For example, a detached 10,000 square foot Rosedale home built on an acre of land pays the same development charge as a 1200 square foot semi-detached in Rexdale. A luxury three-bedroom penthouse pays the same as a two-bedroom ‘affordable’ apartment. This doesn’t seem fair and may explain why some areas of the city lack appropriate services and amenities.

Readers have often wondered why developers need apartment buildings to be so much taller in Weston than in more affluent parts of the city. Development charges may be part of the reason.

Also under review is the Alternative Parkland Dedication Rate along with Section 37 charges. The idea behind Section 37 was to compensate for shoddy and overbuilt architecture by having the developer ‘donate’ to, for example, a community art project. One notorious example is the Nictophilia installation at Eglinton and Weston. Another is the exercise equipment in Cruickshank Park. The danger with this type of funding is that the local councillor’s hands are all over the project and it can end up appearing as a ‘gift’ from the councillor. Another problem with Section 37 funding was that the money generated was dependent on the value of the project. Downtown projects generated huge amounts of Section 37 money while our neck of the woods received token amounts. Read more here on the various charges or ‘Growth Funding Tools’ as the City now calls them.

The Province is asking for public input. Sadly, because I was slow in writing this article, two public information sessions have come and gone but it is not too late to provide input to the city by emailing [email protected]

Weston Common Sold

Artscape Weston Common and the residential rental units in 2020. File.

Another stage of the Weston Common story has unfolded with the announcement yesterday that the entire complex at 22 John Street has been sold to three sections of a real estate company by the name of Dream. The purchase includes the Artscape managed Hub, both the old and new rental towers along with the 26 artist live/work studios. According to an article in RENX.ca the company stated that, “Dream’s intention is to increase the number of affordable units provided on-site as per CMHC’s definition of affordable rent for the area.”.

Westmount Army and Navy Club selling its property.

Westmount Army and Navy Club has occupied its present Kingdom Street site in Greater Weston™ since 1938. Sadly, thanks to lengthy closures because of Covid, the club has been losing money for a while as noted back in April last year when they held a fundraiser. At a membership meeting convened today, club members voted to put the 450 x 120 foot site up for sale with the idea that monies raised will clear any debts and provide an income from interest on the capital. The club plans to reconvene in a new leased location. Whatever happens, directors insist that if the club needs to be wound-up, once debts are cleared, all proceeds will go to the charities that Westmount A.N.C. has supported for many years.

The club charter states that it must operate in Etobicoke and members hope to lease and move to a nearby property once the eventual purchaser takes possession of the site. This may not be for a couple of years so in the meantime, now that Covid restrictions have eased somewhat, it’s business as usual with activities such as darts nights being arranged for the fall.

The Westmount Army and Navy Club property at 41 Kingdom Street.

Real estate agents entrusted with the sale process and present at the meeting speculated that a price of up to $3 million was possible for the site which will be sold as one property. The sort of housing that will be built on the land is unknown but the options are likely to be a severance into three 50 x 120 lots, six 25 x 120 foot lots, or a townhome complex.

Is it arrogance? Let’s hope so.

There’s been a long standing Tory tradition of swerving candidate debates. Here in York South-Weston, Tories are sent in as sacrificial lambs. Being a national party, the Conservatives feel obliged to have a candidate in every riding and while expectations in this corner of Toronto are slim, they always manage to find someone who will enter the race. 

In the days before Covid, debates were noisy, filled with, er, rabid and partisan socialists and were held in some remote location far away from their home – aka  the riding. Conservative candidates presumably thought that their time was better spent canvassing. Now it’s the Liberals too who are making this a thing. 

One can understand a Tory candidate’s unwillingness to be exposed to the mob. For one thing, their grasp of issues is likely to be confined to a few sentences. They’re usually running on a couple of wedge issues and don’t get the subtleties of an argument having two sides. The Liberals rarely swerved a chance to debate. Now we have a sitting MP and federal cabinet minister deciding that a debate isn’t important. 

Liberal Ahmed Hussen is a success story. He, like many of us in Canada, came to this country for a better life. He succeeded, became a community advocate and then a lawyer so it would be fair to assume that Mr. Hussen isn’t shy. Public speaking should be a natural fit for the Liberal candidate. During the 2015 election it was alleged that Mr. Hussen felt that debate organizers were partisan and he wouldn’t be treated fairly. The strategy didn’t hurt him and he handily beat Mike Sullivan with 46% of the vote.

In 2019, all candidates attended the one debate and Mr. Hussen romped to victory with 58% of the vote.

Now he seems to feel that any exposure to the public that he can’t control will either weaken his chances or waste his precious time. Although Mr. Hussen doesn’t live in the riding, there is strong evidence that he knows where it is and has been here on quite a few occasions.

So what was Mr. Hussen’s problem with participating in a candidate debate? Especially one held remotely. As a cabinet minister, he will assuredly have a good grasp of the issues and how to use Zoom. As a lawyer, he will have decent and confident debating skills. Heaven forfend that anyone could accuse a Liberal cabinet minister of arrogance but unless Mr. Hussen has a compelling reason for avoiding debate, one has to assume that’s exactly what it is.

Well done Mr. Hussen. You have what it takes to be a Liberal Prime Minister.

Today in Weston

The building known as ‘The Humber’ on Wilby Crescent is starting to emerge from its basement foundations. This was the view at the site entrance today and also from the Humber footbridge. The 22 storey affordable condos will be ready for occupation sometime in 2023.

One of many cement trucks delivering today at 10 Wilby.
Today’s view from the Humber footbridge. Only the crane is visible above the trees so far.
The 22-storey building will have a commanding view of the river and parkland in both directions.

Read more here and here.