Councillor Nunziata Clarifies Her Comments

Few Weston Web articles generate the kind of response we received in the recent article ‘Nunziata Responds to Muggings’. As a result, Weston Web asked Councillor Nunziata some of the questions raised by readers.

In an exclusive interview, she clarified her comments about Chaminade College students and says her original words were the result of a ‘miscommunication’. She also acknowledged that the muggings at Weston and Lawrence were very unlikely to have originated from students at that school.

We discussed other matters such as why she will oppose future license applications for bars in Weston. Councillor Nunziata says she has no problem with applications being approved as long as there are conditions attached to ensure good behaviour; e.g. adherence to licensed hours and noise suppression. After a year these conditions would be lifted. She claims that there are too many licensed establishments along Weston Road and Jane Street already, and that some legitimately licensed establishments operate after hours too . She’s ‘had many complaints from residents.’ I asked if any licence applications ever come from deserving businesses and was told that as long as they agree to the conditions and have not caused problems in the past, they will not be refused a licence.

We returned to the topic of crime and the TAVIS initiative. I mentioned my pet peeve which is that while the TAVIS program has great potential and is a great asset to the community, officers tend to hang around in groups of three or more (let’s not call them gangs) and could cover more ground and have more contact with the community in smaller groups. Ms Nunziata replied that the grouping format was agreed to in the TAVIS meetings, as was the location of the surveillance cameras (which, perhaps, could have produced better results along Lawrence Avenue, since much of the crime seems to occur there).

Thanks to our readers for such a vigorous response.

Frontlines Needs Your Help

Frontlines is running an introduction to digital photography course for students aged 10 and older.  These one-week sessions take place in July and August. Frontlines needs help in acquiring digital cameras and related equipment that can be used when students are learning to compose and download images. If you are able to help, please call Program Manager Denise Gillard at Frontlines: 416-244-7017.

 

Nunziata All Shook Up in Lions Park

Here in Weston we may not have had Will and Kate, but Frances Nunziata sang with ‘Elvis’ yesterday at the July 1st bash in Lion’s Park. How did she compare? Let’s say that she is a gifted politician and leave it at that!

Thank you, thank you very much.

This year for the first time, organizers put up decent fencing to contain the fireworks area thus allowing access to the park via the Humber footbridge. Many people made a day of the occasion, and several food outlets did a brisk trade. The fireworks were spectacular.

Nunziata Slammed in James’ Column

Royson James writes socially themed editorials in the Toronto Star. In today’s column he slams (among others) Frances Nunziata for stating that Priority Neighbourhood status is hampering positive change in Weston-Mount Dennis because the negative label drives away business. She’s quoted in the column as saying that Priority Neighbourhood Status increases insurance rates and puts developers off from even opening up a coffee shop.

Snake oil salesmen are more cuddly than these suburban city councillors who masquerade as caretakers of Toronto’s neediest of city wards. And a lot more truthful….

Councillor Frances Nunziata declared that Weston-Mount Dennis can do so much better without the “priority neighbourhood” label council has attached to it, a label that has attracted millions of dollars of added community services.

Now, she says, developers don’t even want to bring a coffee shop into the neighbourhood. Besides, insurance rates shot up when insurers, apparently, found out — from the label, no doubt — that this was a part of town with social challenges.

In other words, change the name and the developers will come. Ha!

These comments along with the councillor’s repeated objections to liquor licence applications in Weston make us wonder (again) about the councillor’s vision for Weston’s commercial district. Would she like to replicate Bloor West Village along Weston Road and Jane Street? Is this a trial balloon to explore axing the Priority Neighbourhood Program? Perhaps our councillor would care to shed some light on this topic.

The Dog Days of Summer

Summertime is traditionally a period of slow news when legislatures close and politicians return home to their families and spend some time out of the public eye. Naturally this can lead to very some dull fare for political junkies as the media tries to pass off trivia as real news. Here at WestonWeb, it’s hard not to shamelessly and cravenly follow this tradition ourselves. In fact we have a ‘Weird and Wacky’ news category for precisely when news slows down and the dog days of summer arrive.

You, dear Reader can help us in one of two ways by either sending us tips on stories that are newsworthy or by contributing your own ‘Weird and Wacky’ story ideas. Either way we win.

Hurricane Hazel – Iconic Art Memorial Fades

Back in 2002, local artist Mario Noviello was commissioned to decorate the Eastern abutment of the old Humber footbridge. Mario’s concept was brilliant—to illustrate the old bridge and neighbourhood and replicate the front pages of several newspapers reporting on the disaster. All this was using remnants of the old bridge as a ‘canvas’. This is one of the many bridges swept away during Hurricane Hazel. Mario’s beautifully executed and extensive set of murals covered the abutment telling the story of that fateful night in 1954. Many more photographs of the mural are here.

Sadly, the mural has not withstood the elements well and has almost faded to the point of oblivion.

The main mural showing the old footbridge - photo taken in 2002

When I spoke with Mario in 2004 after the mural and plaques were unveiled, he told me that an anti-graffiti coating placed over the murals was already leading to a deterioration of the underlying paint.

Cutting the ribbon at the official opening, October 16, 2004; from left Rob Draper, Alan Tonks, Mario Noviello, Julian Fantino, Elaine Heaton and Frances Nunziata.

 

 

The mural as it looks today.

This corner of Lions Park is the nearest thing we have to a shrine commemorating the victims of the hurricane and, along with plaques describing the event, draws many a school group, walking tour, pedestrian and cyclist on their way through the park system. Thieves took about 5 minutes to remove the original cast metal plaques on either side of the new bridge—now replaced with plastic ones.  It’s truly a shame that the mural is in such poor shape. Hopefully, one day it can be restored to its former glory.

 

Weston Treasures: Frontlines

Frontlines: 1844 Weston Road

Tucked between a high-rise building and rows of stores and apartments on Weston Road is a single-storey building that is the current home to a powerhouse that has been in our community for the past quarter century. While the back of the building serves as a food bank (that’s a story for another day), Frontlines (naturally) occupies the storefront entrance at 1844 Weston Road. Frontlines is a child and youth outreach centre, financed primarily through individual donors, along with fundraising and grants from small foundations. It operates six days a week under the leadership of Kristy Grisdale, Denise Gillard and Felix Opoku.

Executive Director Kristy Grisdale

Along with 20 volunteers, the team serves around 200 neighbourhood children through a wide range of after-school activities. In the summer, Frontlines employs local students and young adults to assist with week-long camp experiences as well as a wide variety of daily activities. That’s not all—in a typical month, this small building produces 140 nutritious cooked meals, 130 packed lunches and dozens of healthy snacks for the homework club run in conjunction with the Macaulay Child Development Centre. All of this is done at a cost of $350 per child per year.

Denise Gillard and friends.

Program Manager Denise Gillard says that there is a tremendous need for Frontline’s services and they serve the tip of a very large iceberg. A McMaster graduate, Denise is an ordained Baptist minister who believes that improving lives in the community begins with respect. Fostering of wellness and respect is achieved through building relationships and providing meaningful programs.

Youth Program Coordinator Felix Opoku and friends.

In order to address our community’s growing needs, fundraising is a time consuming but essential activity. For example, student-cooked items can be purchased each Saturday at Weston Farmers’ Market. In April, the annual dinner held at Weston Golf and Country Club raised over $10,000 from 90 paying guests with 17 sponsors generously covering all costs. Another way of fundraising involves individual sponsorships – for example, it costs $350 to sponsor one child’s activities for a year, $315 will send a child to camp for a week, while $2800 will employ a student facilitator for the summer.

Frontlines’ next major fundraisers are:

Community Summer BBQ bash this Saturday, June 18 at Frontlines. Time: 11 a.m. To 6 p.m. Featuring BBQ favourites, baked goods, vendors and entertainers as well as TC3 – the Toronto Children’s Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company. No ticket required.

BIG breakfast on Saturday, June 25th at Frontlines. Time: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Tickets are $12.00 and attendees can enjoy a delicious meal while finding out more about Frontlines and meeting staff and volunteers. If you would like to attend, please RSVP at 416-244-7017.