Mount Dennis – opportunity to improve dangerous streets .

A recent and timely article in a Toronto blog named ‘The Local’, features some well-known local characters while dealing with the topic of pedestrian safety and the public realm in the Mount Dennis area. Author, Sam Riches has written for a number of publications including Wired, Salon.com  and Longreads.

Read Sam’s article here.

Rents rising in Weston, Mount Dennis.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Toronto’s apartment rental costs increased substantially between 2012 and 2017, particularly in the Weston and Mount Dennis area. The Toronto Star has used CMHC data in an interactive map which shows that Weston’s rental prices jumped nearly 18% during that time period while Mount Dennis prices increased by 27.8%.

In 2012, apartment rental averages in both neighbourhoods were roughly comparable at around the $1000 level but by 2017, rentals jumped to $1117 in Weston and $1201 in Mount Dennis. While this is still low compared to downtown where rents average over $2200, it will be of little comfort to people who come to the suburbs looking for more affordable accommodation.

The average annual rent increase over that period (thanks to the power of compound interest) seems to have been about 2.5% for Weston and 4% for Mount Dennis. Under Ontario’s rent control legislation, the average yearly rent increase over that period should have been 1.68%. Why the discrepancy? Once a tenant moves out, landlords can charge whatever the market will bear. In areas with more turnover, rents can rise rapidly if there is sufficient demand.

From the Toronto Star.

Premier Ford recently legislated the end of rent controls on all new rental buildings occupied after November 15th. He apparently believes that this will encourage more rental apartment construction. Incidentally, PC Premier Mike Harris ended rent control in 1997 claiming that a boom in rental housing construction would result.

It didn’t.

Shakespeare In Action launches fundraising campaign

Shakespeare In Action is one of the two artistic pillars of the soon to be opened Weston Hub. It specializes in making the works of William Shakespeare more accessible to young people through a variety of endeavours that focus on their active involvement.

In the latest video from SIA, founder and Artistic Director Michael Kelly shows us the actual space that the theatre group will soon occupy and kicks off a $250,000 ‘Raise The Roof’ fundraising campaign. The money will be used for studio / theatre infrastructure and to support new community outreach initiatives.


The group is a registered charity and donations are being handled through the Canada Helps site here.

Farmers Market ends its 39th season.

Weston Farmers Market traders prepare to close their stalls for the 2018 season.

The Weston Farmers Market closed for the season yesterday and there was a good turnout despite the rainy and cool weather. Next year the market will return to John Street after an absence of three years and will open its 40th season on Saturday, May 11 at the new Weston Hub location.

West22 model suite open.

Landscaping work was taking place this morning in the space between the the Weston Hub live / work artist residences on the left and the West22 building on the right.

If you want to get an idea of what the rental suites will be like when the new apartment building on John Street opens early next year, head down to the model suite at the end of John Street just before the footbridge.

Property managers Rhapsody are positioning the apartments as, ‘Resort style rental living with access to everywhere’. Suites in the building range from ~400 sq ft studios at $1383 monthly to ~ 11oo square feet 2 bedrooms for $2463 monthly. The model suite shows very well and will be retained so that prospective residents can see the features without bothering existing occupants. All suites come with stainless kitchen appliances, quartz countertops and a stacked washer – dryer. Building amenities include a gym, urban cafe, media room / resident lounge and pet lounge. Another big selling point of the building is the 7-minute walk to the Go Train and UP Express.

The Leasing Centre is open from 10-6 weekdays and 10-5 on weekends.

Check out the various models and prices here.

Councillor Nunziata; it’s legacy time.

The results are in and the unfair effect of name recognition was once again an overwhelming factor in Toronto elections. The two incumbents in newly created Ward 5 topped the poll despite spirited campaigns, especially from Chiara Padovani and Lekan Olawoye. Even Frances Nunziata must have realized during her campaign that there was a yearning for change. Indeed, the vast majority of voters chose another candidate. About 68% of electors who bothered to vote, chose someone other than her.

Now for the more depressing part; voter participation was significantly down across the city and fewer than 38% of YSW eligible voters bothered to vote according to my calculations. The average for Toronto was about 41%. In effect, Ms. Nunziata retained her job thanks to about 12% of electors.

Given the march of time, Frances Nunziata only has a few years left at council before she retires or a more compelling candidate beats her in an upcoming election. What will be her legacy? Frances herself struggled to list her accomplishments when debating other candidates. Many pointed to the decline in Weston’s fortunes over the past several decades of her tenure. Weston and Mount Dennis are slowly beginning to emerge from years of neglect and disinterest, mainly thanks to the UP Express, all day GO Train service and the expansion of the city to the suburbs; none of which she can legitimately claim credit for.

It’s not all bad; there are some minor achievements – will she be remembered for the Weston Common / Hub / Storage Unit? Remember, the original concept was for an arts and cultural centre and year round (indoor outdoor) farmers market. What about the car-focussed community centre at Black Creek and Eglinton? There are critics of both of these projects while others have a legitimate claim to shared parentage.

The original Weston Hub concept as it was sold to the community. (Click to enlarge)

There are some notable failures on her record. The persistent flooding in parts of the ward surely should have been fixed by now. The shabby public domain and the lack of progress on a bicycle network are two others that quickly come to mind.

Frances began her political career as a corruption fighter, exposing and taking on crooked politicians. That reputation is long behind her. Now she is best known for her role as Council Speaker. There are many critics of her voting record which was the closest of any councillor to that of Mayor Tory – over 90% of the time. This blog has long criticized some of her positions which often seem to work against residents who are struggling.

Speakers are chosen by a council vote. Given the dramatic changes to Council, it will be interesting to see if Ms Nunziata can win a third term in that prestigious yet challenging position. Now that Mammoliti has gone, the job may be a lot more attractive to others in the chamber. Losing the Speaker’s job would certainly give her more time to work on the larger ward she now governs.

Regardless; for this new term, Ms Nunziata needs to find bold projects that inspire and uplift our community if she is to be remembered for anything other than her long years in office. Whether she can do this over the next four years remains to be seen.

I for one hope she can.

Padovani support surges

At the end of September, a Mainstreet poll found Incumbent councillor Frances Nunziata with 40% of the vote, fellow incumbent Frank Di Giorgio was at 30%, Lekan Olawoye at 7.2 and Chiara Padovani at 3.8.

In the latest Forum poll, Nunziata has kept her commanding lead over other candidates with 39% but Padovani has built support considerably to 20% with Di Giorgio’s support slumping to 19%.  The margin of error would mean that Padovani and Di Giorgio are in a virtual tie for now.

Padovani’s campaign manager, Riley Peterson told me today that she believes the surge in her candidate’s support comes as a result of intense organizing and canvassing.

The Forum poll is several days old so there is a chance for things to change over the last few days before Election Day on Monday 22nd. It remains to be seen whether Padovani can continue to pick up support from people who want to see change in Ward 5. On voting day it will also be important to persuade people to make the effort to vote. In 2014, nearly half of voters stayed home in what is now Ward 5.

Ms. Padovani should also hope for fair weather – apparently, bad weather favours incumbents. Monday’s weather looks to be partly sunny with a chance of showers.

In other Ward 5 news, Cycle Toronto has released the results of a questionnaire regarding cycling in York South-Weston (Ward 5). Only one candidate bothered to respond to the survey – Chiara Padovani.

Click to enlarge.