Steps to nowhere?

Tantalizingly near completion after being out of service since last June.

Work on the steps from Hickory Tree Road and Bellevue to the Lions Park soccer field has once again ground to a halt. A call to 311 uncovered that citizens can call directly, and the name to call was temporary supervisor Nick Ovington. After two unreturned calls to Mr Ovington, it emerged that he no longer works in this area. According to Councillor Mike Ford’s Constituency Advisor, Jennifer Couto, there is a new temporary supervisor, Phil Jarow. Bottom line; the stairway “is in place waiting for the final testing procedures and final finish grading. A timeline for completion will be forwarded early next week.”

As soon as word comes from Mr. Jarow, readers will be updated.

Today in Weston – March 23, 2017

The menu at Zeal Burger offers a wide selection for burger lovers. Click for larger image.

Today I tried Zeal Burgers on a whim as I was passing. I won’t attempt to duplicate the excellent review our Lieselotte Noort wrote on this local restaurant last fall but I have to say owner Mark Ghopros makes one of the best cheeseburger and fries I have tasted in a long time. His walk-in special of cheeseburger fries and a drink is $10.00 all in.

Mark tells me that he’s planning an update of the menu soon to include some exciting new items.

Zeal Burgers: 1926 Weston Road. Phone: (647) 352-3933

Weston Silver Band wins big in U.S.

On March 11, the Weston Silver Band competed in the annual North American Brass Band Championships and were judged to be best of ten bands in the First Section (think divisions) winning a gold medal. WSB was the only Canadian entry out of 33 other bands. In 2013 the band placed top in the Second Section; the first Canadian band to do so.

The Band celebrates its win.
Weston Silver Band at the North American Brass Band Championships, held in Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 11, 2017.

The Weston Silver Band has an interesting history. Before immigrating to Canada, George Sainsbury, started a band in the U.K which survives to this day. Once he arrived in our neck of the woods, he formed what began as the Weston Boy’s Band in 1921 and has flourished ever since, keeping its Weston links by performing annually in the Weston Santa Claus Parade. Although at the present time there are no members who live in Weston, the band is very proud of its roots in the Weston community and keeps extensive archives of its history. Practices are still held locally every week at the Salvation Army’s York Community Church on 1100 Weston Road in Mount Dennis. The band began to draw musicians from further and further afield from Weston beginning in the late 1970s.

For their upcoming performances, click here.

Band Manager Theresa MacDonald kindly sent me some archival photos of WSB that illustrate its proud Weston heritage.

George Sainsbury and his wife.
The original Weston Boys Band in 1921 at the C.N.E.
Weston Boys Band 1924- Music Director George Sainsbury, Taken at Dr. Irwin’s Estate on Little Ave, in Weston.

Theresa tells me that when the band played in Gravenhurst last year, George Sainsbury’s grandson approached them with a music case belonging to the founder. This treasured item is now stored with the many trophies and other memorabilia gathered over the years.

The original music case belonging to George Sainsbury.
Weston Silver Band 1951 – Music Director Horace Sainsbury, Little Park, Weston.
Weston Silver Band 1960 – Music Director Wallace Mason -C.N.E Winners Class I All Brass, Best Performance, Highest Marks of All Bands, Gold Medal Cornet Solo – Jim Alexander, Gold Medal Euphonium – Ken Martin
** The band has all these shields and trophies in their archives, as well as uniforms etc.

Foreign money pushing up house prices.

The logic-defying and alarming increases in Toronto’s housing prices have affected us in Weston to some extent. The boom is largely taking place outside our borders. While we still live in an affordable area, interestingly the net effect of the current market is lower property taxes for us. This is because higher assessments in other parts of the city mean that those residents are taking a larger share of the total assessment. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that housing prices (and rents) are rising at an unsustainable rate. What are we being told about the rise in housing prices? The big lie is that it’s simply a lack of supply and that more housing is needed. Based on this lie, there are proposals to eat into Toronto’s Green Belt and put more housing there.

A new report issued this week from the Ryerson’s City Building Institute tackles the housing shortage theory and disproves it. While there is enough housing for residents, the seeming shortage is likely caused by money looking for a safe haven in Canada. According to the report, it’s hard to trace foreign money that’s causing the boom but unless we do something about money flooding our city (such as a foreign buyers’ tax or a progressive property surtax), a lot of (especially) young people will be putting themselves at risk, saddled with an impossible debt. This could trigger a financial crisis, once the bubble inevitably bursts causing even more turmoil.

Over to you Province of Ontario.

Nunziata still pushing Scarborough one-stop subway

Image from City of Toronto.

In spite of mounting evidence that the proposed ($3.35 billion and counting) one-stop Scarborough subway will be a costly mistake, our councillor is 100% behind the proposal. It’s puzzling since a seven-stop dedicated right of way LRT was already approved and paid for. Unlike the subway, even the operating costs were likely paid for.

This subway project will serve relatively few people and if passed, will be ridiculed for decades to come.

If approved, the vast amount of money needed will pinch every city department’s budget for decades to come and is already an additional 30-year burden (or levy) on our tax bills. It will also starve needier transit projects of federal and provincial funds.

So why is our councillor still insisting on giving her support?

The answer is quite simple. It seems Francis Nunziata must support the Mayor against the interests of the majority in her ward so that she can keep her job as Council Speaker.

Common sense has gone out of the window. This subway was originally sold as a three stop package that went to Sheppard East. As costs estimates ballooned, the route was shortened and two stops were cut.

One would think that before making a decision, Council would carefully listen to experts and make a decision based on the data. Not so. Dogma rules the day at Council whose members actually voted down a motion asking for data driven decisions on transit. Mayor Tory and councillor Nunziata both (along with the usual suspects) rejected that common sense idea. The mayor apparently believes that his re-election hopes lie with this subway and he seems prepared to do and say almost anything to push through the decision before more embarrassing facts emerge.

Few would deny that we need more subways in Toronto. After all, our subway map has changed minimally since the 1960s. However, there are far better candidates for a subway extension than this location. Ms Nunziata, your speaker’s job is not worth the cost to Toronto.

Read this excellent Toronto Star article on the project here.

Smitherman to bid for council in 2018

George Smitherman. From ctvnews.ca

Weston native born politician, George Smitherman has announced he will run for council in next year’s civic election. While he will not run in York South-Weston, he plans to take a shot at one of the three new wards created after a boundary review and council vote last November. The condo boom of the past few years, has seen population growth in the downtown core and Smitherman hopes to end up with a home and seat there.

While a progressive councillor for Ward 11 might have been a big change from the current incumbent, all is not lost. Many vital decisions at council have been won or lost by only a few votes. Mayor John Tory opposed adding three extra wards. Why?  Possibly because the new wards are downtown and could add three progressive voices and votes which might improve the tone and dare I say humanity of Council decisions. As an added bonus, Smitherman has close ties with the Liberal Party of Canada along with Immigration Minister and York South Weston MP Ahmed Hussen so no doubt there will be a strong link to the federal government.

Here begins the speculation that the long term plan is to knock John Tory off his mayoral perch in 2022.

Stay tuned; it should be an interesting ride.

Cops should be where they’re needed.

The Toronto Police report optimistically named, ‘The Way Forward‘ is running into flak from police union head Mike McCormack.  One of the suggestions in the report is to deploy officers in low crime areas to parts of the city where criminal behaviour is more prevalent. McCormack claims that after spending time to get to know a community, cops moved to other areas will be strangers. This apparently will negate all the good feelings engendered by community barbecues and the like.

Contrary to his new found love of community policing, McCormack was a fan of ‘carding‘. The practice of profiling, questioning and documenting people based on factors arbitrarily determined by an officer. Incredibly, while carding was abolished this year, data gathered in the past (some of it obtained illegally) has been retained. Carding did little to prevent crime but did much to alienate visible minorities. When I was young, many years ago I was profiled because of my youth, especially when driving. I can only imagine what it’s like to be young and black where profiling is practised.

Here in Weston it would be nice to see a few extra cops occasionally. Despite our fearsome reputation, we’re not a hotbed of crime. Although dealing drugs at 2 a.m. anywhere in the city is going to be bad for your health, the downtown waterfront is a far more dangerous place than Jane and Lawrence in the wee small hours.

The old saying goes that you can catch a lot more flies with honey than vinegar. Back in the 20th Century, police would be visible in neighbourhoods. They talked to people and patrolled where they were needed.

It’s just as well McCormack doesn’t have anything to do with fire services. The same way that it’s a good idea to put fire fighters where the fires are, let’s put cops where they’re needed, not where they’re comfortable.