Rental apartments – what to do?

From RentSeeker.ca

Weston and Mount Dennis residents may have noticed that our little corner of Toronto seems to be undergoing a boom in real-estate turnovers and new projects. The reason seems to be our newly acquired 7-days a week, frequent, rapid and reasonably priced transportation to downtown and the airport.

Instead of the usual condos, many new development proposals seem to be for rental apartments. The average rental accommodation vacancy rate in Toronto is 1% and Toronto Council is keen to have more rental accommodation citing a need for 8000 new apartments every year in order to satisfy demand. The Rockport apartments on John Street will be market rate rentals when they open next year.

There is a shortage of good quality rental accommodation because developers have focussed on condos over the last few decades thanks in part to rent controls and the higher cost of building rental apartments. Condo developers can pre-sell units before construction starts and therefore need less money. Rental apartments therefore have greater financing costs and in addition are taxed at a higher rate than condos. This is why there are some new financial incentives for rental builders.

The theory goes that good quality rental buildings will attract empty nesters and free up space in larger homes for families.  More rentals will ease the upward price pressure on rents. This is clearly a laudable goal.

Unfortunately, City planners don’t care where they go. They no doubt have a quota in mind and they’re gonna fill it. Guidelines and restrictions seem to be routinely ignored along with a regard for the needs of a neighbourhood. Rental apartments have to be built and they’ll get built come hell or high water. The problem is that even with generous incentives, apartment builders may end up building as high and cheaply as possible.

A rental apartment building that is poorly built will not command market rents and will end up with a single demographic. It’s recognized that good neighbourhoods have a mix of people.

Looking down Weston Road at Weston’s cluster of mostly rental apartment buildings. Click to enlarge. From Apple Maps. Note that Apple hasn’t updated its map since the UP Express line was under construction.

What to do?

There’s nothing wrong with good quality, well-run rental apartments. Back in the stone age I quite happily lived in a few – they were clean, had nice amenities and were state of the art for the time. Even though we have better tenant protections now, there is a danger that a cheaply constructed building will quickly deteriorate.

Councillor Nunziata and the relevant resident’s groups should therefore lobby hard for buildings built to a high standard that will appeal to a wide demographic.

Plus, new buildings don’t all have to be 25 or 30 storeys do they?

Extra credit reading here.

Weston’s Zeal Burger stars in KeyCo commercial.

KeyCo operates in Europe and North America and makes trackers for items that can get lost.

Local video agency Bee Video Productions has  made a commercial for KeyCo that stars Weston’s Zeal Burger restaurant.

Watch it below.

Two artworks for Mount Dennis Station

Metrolinx has announced that 6 stations along the Eglinton Crosstown line will be decorated with artworks chosen from 187 new and established artists’ submissions. Mount Dennis Station will be the only station to have two. The first is a collage of found images and objects by Sara Cwynar and the second, a video installation from Canadian artists based in Berlin; Hadley + Maxwell depicting the history of Mount Dennis, including the Kodak building move.

Sara Cwynar’s collage will be placed on a pedestrian corridor in the station. Click to enlarge.
An impression of the video installation, ‘Up To This Moment’. Click to enlarge.

Read more in this Inside Toronto article here and in the Crosstown announcement here.

Someone’s playing a game of Monopoly in Weston.

Areas in pink have been acquired so far. (Click to enlarge) Map adapted from Google Maps.

A source tells me that a company by the name of Weston Asset Management Inc. has bought a couple of properties near its recently acquired Greenland Farm property at 1966 and 1956 Weston Road. These are the people who have proposed a 28-storey apartment building with retail at the base. In addition to #1956, the parking and laneway to Lawrence Avenue that comes with Greenland Farm, Weston Asset seems to have acquired 1952 (next to P&Ms) and 1980 Weston Road.

1952 Weston Road.
1980 Weston Road (tall building on left).

Attempts to find out anything about Weston Asset Management have proved to be futile as the company seems to have no web presence. Any web sleuths out there?

Let’s hope that they will be more forthcoming about who they are and their plans at the next community consultation meeting which should happen this spring.

Yet another coffee shop for Weston?

1986 Weston Road at the corner of Little Avenue.

A few days ago we reported on the Weston Bun Bakery’s proposed reincarnation. Now another coffee shop is about to launch at Weston Road and Little Avenue. The former pizza restaurant at 1986 Weston Road closed last year. Now we’re about to get “Keswick’s Best Coffee”. There was no response at the phone number (416-901-6801) today, but our readers may have more success.

I was able to contact Justin Zielonko, the new owner of the Keswick location and he says that he bought the original Keswick coffee shop from ‘Rose’, who will be opening the Weston store soon; probably within a couple of weeks and that she tries to help people in need with the profits of her business. She’s moving to Toronto to be ‘closer to the people that she’s helping’.

Rose sounds like a lovely lady and we wish her success in Weston.

Update: I found this photo on Facebook of the same address taken over 50 years ago.

Photo from Facebook: Thanks to Doreen Elminowski.

Today in Weston January 16, 2017

The footbridge between Lions and Raymore parks after last night’s snowfall. Click to enlarge.

Letter of the Week – January 14, 2018

Another interesting set of  thoughts from Anonymous is our Letter of the Week. Anon was responding to other comments on the image of the new Rockport apartments  but first made a public service announcement which is also worthy of a more prominent airing.

Interesting.

Interesting concerns..
..as always from “Fortress Weston”.

So, if I may, before I weigh in on the high rise rentals issue of concern, here’s some helpful news or at the very least, a public service announcement:

“The Community Police Partnership” group is looking for more members, ahead of an upcoming meeting between local police and community members who have already expressed interest in assisting in our troubled community.

The note comes from Councillor Nunziata’s office – sent out this morning – where she extends yet another invitation to anyone else still very concerned about the safety in our community, saying that there’s still time to join the group, if you’d like.

This call to join, stems back to the last major meeting she organized regarding the ongoing concern about “Community Safety in Weston” – the well attended meeting that was held at Weston Memorial Jr. PS, back in mid-November.

You may recall that this came shortly after the stabbing murder in town, ironically near Central United Church, in the Shoppers Drug Mart parking lot.

Many agree that it was an odd, tragic event, that appears as though it could somehow be linked to gang related activity, given the odd, unknown relationship between the players in this drama.

Risky business dealings?
Maybe.

But, no matter the reason, it was unsettling for most of us, even though the Staff Sargent and her team assured us that these types of violent crimes are gang related, unlike the nuisance crimes most complained about.

Anyway, the Councillor’s note this morning is an invitation to consider joining a group of like minded, worried or concerned Weston folks who would work with members of 12 Division in something called, “The Community Police Partnership”, which will try and maintain an ongoing dialogue regarding safety and policing matters.

She’d like to know if there’s anyone else interested in joining the group which will meet in a few weeks to come.

Worried, concerned or down right pissed off and want to do something?
Here’s your chance to reach out to her office and assist.

Make no mistake and no matter what, the members of 12 Division will continue to be on guard for our area, trying to address all concerns, even if many are deemed nuisance crimes, relatively speaking, of course.

But, it’s evident that the Councillor has 12 Division’s ear, and they could use some help in an obviously, concerned Weston community.

And, if you’re wondering, no. I don’t work for or represent the Councillor or TPS’s 12 Division in any way, shape or form.

Just hoping to see a better balance in an area that I still call home, amid extreme finger pointing.

Frankly however, I do appreciate it when I see someone who isn’t afraid of some heavy lifting and a little hard work.

No magic.
Often, just hard, thankless work.

Could it be as easy as that?

Well, maybe not cause here’s the problem. And, to paraphrase an ancient French philosopher who once uttered in jest:

“.. The problem with the world is that everyone thinks they know the way, or has the answer.”

(Insert sycophantic, uppercrust, powder wigged laughter here.)

Anyway, somehow despite what you or I think of the Councillor’s efforts – as a politician or person – she continues to reach out in this community which includes a very disparate group of beings. And, she serves, unlike you and me.

“Takes a licking, but keeps on ticking”, n’est pas?

No?

Run against her effort & record.
(She’s bound to lose one day.)

So, in the mean time, consider her invitation to join, if safety is top of mind.

Now, back to the topic of Rentals in this working class area that has longgggg had high rise rental accommodations with numerous precedents paving the way for even more demands for affordable housing, not always pleasing to many of us.

They’re here to stay, and more are needed.

So, given that, how to make them better – for the unit residents and in general, the Weston community which is going through it’s own form of gentrification.

Weston is still a pretty good buy – better yet with improved rail transit into the city.

Clearly, neighbourhoods need a relationship with a strong business and development community.

We understand that affordable housing is intended to assist the less than privileged types among us, who we hope are decent folks, and often are.

But sadly, perhaps too often they are sharing space with lawless types who hide out in their midst. (“Community Safety” issue?)

Now, as we know affordable housing is encouraged & later demanded by social activists in our city and community.

And, these activists are backed by other like minded altruists who attend these very kinds of information meetings, too when organized by the Councillor, which includes interested investors who want to see if Weston is worthy of their consideration, and investment dollars.

Fact is, more often than not these are pretty small and poorly attended meetings by the people who actually live in the area.

If we don’t go to meetings, the balance is thrown off.

And then, what we get is this – too much right wing influencing the debate or too much left wing winning the day for their needs.

We perhaps then, get what we earn when we don’t get involved, especially when invited.

And yeah, I don’t always go these meetings either.
(I pick my spots, too. Not good. But, that’s life.)

But, here’s the thing for me when it comes to rentals – I very much believe in something often referred to as “pride in ownership” which is something I don’t think you get from living in a rental space.

And yes, I suppose as a consequence, I don’t much like having my hard earned tax dollars carelessly squandered by politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists or activists, of any persuasion.

Nevertheless, I fully understand that we sometimes have to spend shared taxation monies to improve societal needs, which hopefully benefits most involved & concerned.

A balance, a yin & yang influenced by those who choose to get involved.

So, like it or not, as it stands Weston has always been a working class neighbourhood which has given the have-nots of the world a place and a chance to start. A chance to improve, grow and move on up.

Many very proud Westonites from my past have moved on up & out.
(But, they always remember where they’re from, somehow in a prideful way.)

Some have grown to know the value of an opportunity to gain some ground. And others, will never know it because perhaps they’ve not had the good fortune of proper mentoring which clearly helps and begins in a family, who shows you the way.

My folks were working class stiffs originally from an Eastern bloc country, who bought their Weston home for $21,000 back in the day.

And, my in laws did so too, for about $5000 less, a few years prior to Mom & Dad’s closing date in the 60s.

They worked hard in the factory jobs available to them and knew the importance of saving, as best they could.

And, even though my folks had a real aversion to any left leaning politics given their life experiences in eastern Europe, they were involved in their workplace labour unions, working hard at obtaining some fairness, a balance in their workplace & community.

However, rhetoric goes only so far and like most, they sought better, too.

For them, apart from their mortgage, they never borrowed or used credit. Dad believed in paying cash for everything. Or would flex and consider a “lay away” plan for furniture & luxury items, a pretty much unheard of approach these days of instant gratification.

Life was relatively modest for us and people like us.

We were never middle class, but I never felt we were poor – just perhaps not as fortunate as others, never really coveting what someone else had in comparison.

I just had an awareness through my folks that if I truly wanted something I’d have to work carefully & hard to achieve it.

I was lucky – I had mentoring types from an early age.

Early in their journey, my mentoring types did have to rent many times before they finally could realize the dream of home ownership, and the pride that goes with ownership.

And so, thanks to them I hope I learned some important lessons well, that I might have shared with our kids, by example.

Also thankfully, don’t know what it means to have a good work ethic, but no where to earn a living the way many folks – young & old – are challenged these days.

Looking back, it did seem easier then, where even if you had no inclination for post secondary scholastics and what might materialize from those grand efforts – you could go off to a CCM, a Moffatts, construction trades or an auto mechanics job at a local dealership of which we had all brands represented in Weston.

It was tough then for working class folks and those who aspired to at least that level. But, probably tougher now.

The common denominator between then & now is that the community of Weston was and is more affordable than many other areas in the city of Toronto.

And, given the need for affordable rental housing everywhere, it’s not likely going to change too soon in the Weston area.

It will always be a growing concern.

Now, how to make it better?

Well, our web host once noted that, it is we the people who are the government, and it has a better chance to work & succeed if we people get involved, when these moments arise like they do in Weston.

Community Safety meeting, anyone?

Thanks for your time.