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.

TAVIS Barbecue Tonight, June 16, 2011.

There will be a barbecue tonight from 5 – 7 pm hosted by 12 Division TAVIS initiative officers and Councillor Frances Nunziata. This is to let the community know that an additional 32 police officers have been made available during the summer for street patrol in the Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue area. Check out the PDF version of the poster here.

Mike Sullivan Speaks in the Commons

Mike Sullivan, our newly elected NDP MP spoke for the first time in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Here are his comments:

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the voters in York South—Weston, who sent me here to advocate for them. I will do my utmost to bring forward their issues in this House, like public transit.

Public transit supports economic activity, improves productivity and, done right, it helps clean the air. In York South—Weston, public transit is an important public service, as it is across Canada.

Unfortunately, public transit is not a priority of the government. Aside from the gas tax rebate negotiated nearly a decade ago by then-FCM president, the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, the current federal government refuses to support this crucial element of our economic life. This must change if we are to help Canadians in their daily life.

The federal government must develop a national public-transit strategy so that sensible investments in public transit like electric light rail can be made to meet the needs of millions of Canadians.

Mr Sullivan made a name for himself here in Weston as a passionate supporter of the Clean Train Coalition and it’s good to see that he is still chipping away on the same topic. His unseating of Alan Tonks was one of the many surprises in last month’s general election.

He made further remarks on June 9th, describing York South-Weston and the problems facing our community.