Some comments on commenting and contributing.

Weston Web has been ‘on the air’ since 2010 when Adam started to write about things going on in his neighbourhood. Very few corners of Toronto have such a source of local news and we’re proud of that fact. Hundreds of articles have been written about the Weston / Mount Dennis community and all of them are still accessible through our search function. We make no secret of who we are and what we think. We’re opinionated and unabashed centre-lefties and we often think our leaders can do better.

Readers may believe that we are not fans of certain politicians. That’s not quite true. We attempt at WestonWeb to make our points by attacking ideas and actions rather than the people behind them. We almost always support our opinions through facts and links to other publications. As I mentioned, we stick our names on top of articles we write because we’d like to see our neighbourhood get a better shake and we’re not ashamed to be identified.

We have a comment section after each article because readers often add to a topic – sometimes providing insights far better than anything that we could come up with. Commenters can remain anonymous if they wish.

We get the occasional ugly comment after a WestonWeb article. Such ‘contributions’ attack the authors or people mentioned in the article. We also get unsubstantiated smears on our community as being crime-filled and run down – false notions that we have refuted extensively. Adam generously ‘disemvowels’ such comments, while I zap them out of existence without a trace.  These people never identify themselves and I can only infer that they do not want their family, friends or neighbours to know that they hold such opinions.

On the other hand, our comments section receives some fantastic well-thought out ideas from readers, many of whom identify themselves. To these people, thank-you. We value your opinions even though don’t always mesh with ours. Some of our commenters have become guest writers and we cherish their contributions.

If you think you can contribute to our community discussion, we welcome your ideas. Write for us if you think you have a few articles in you and if you’re commenting; don’t be Anon or Anonymous. We’d love it if you could identify yourself or failing that, give yourself a consistent handle so readers can follow your ideas.

Weston / Mount Dennis ‘on the rise’.

BlogTO has an article that has picked Weston Mount Dennis as one of five ‘Toronto and beyond’ neighbourhoods on the rise in 2019. That should come as no surprise for many residents who have witnessed the development and cultural activity that has been under way for several years. The article cites as evidence, the Eglinton Crosstown, the transit hub forming around the Kodak Building and construction starting this year on the new net zero daycare.

Read the article here.

New Year Predictions

As the new year progresses, it’s probably a good time to make some local and not so local predictions for 2019 and beyond.

Where we are right now.

During the regimes of the late Rob Ford and current mayor John Tory, Toronto has suffered almost a decade of austerity. Now that we have a premier who operates on the same policies, it looks as if Toronto’s public realm will shrink at a more rapid pace. While John Tory looks and sounds like a moderate politician, he’s as radically right-wing as either of the Ford brothers.
Austerity at the provincial level will add to Toronto’s woes, particularly here in Weston / Mount Dennis, especially after Ford gerrymandered Toronto Council by halving the number of councillors and basing council seats on outdated demographics. The current council will have enough support for John Tory to continue the decline of our city. The only differences between Mayor Tory and Premier Ford involve jurisdiction and style rather than political leanings.

A feature of the Rob Ford and John Tory mayoralties has been ignoring the planners and making awful decisions based on dogma and pandering rather than actual need. (Scarborough Subway, Gardiner rebuilding, dangerous streets and the failure of Vision Zero, lousy transit planning, an ineffective and demoralized police force, uncontrolled development…). Added to that, the refusal to charge an appropriate level of property tax has resulted in a lack of funds for city initiatives along with a dilapidated and inadequate public housing inventory. The late British actor Peter Ustinov once called Toronto, “New York run by the Swiss.“. I wonder how he would have described the 2019 version of our city.

Prediction 1: Poverty is about to get real in Weston / Mount Dennis.

Ford has frozen the (already inadequate) minimum wage at $14.00 an hour. It was due to rise to $15 this January 1. This roughly translates to a $2000 annual loss for minimum wage earners, only slightly offset by a tax cut. Basically, general taxes subsidize the wages of minimum wage earners while companies keep the savings and remove them from the community. Other austerity measures include removal of funding for repairs to Toronto schools and public housing (the money would have come from Cap and Trade). Less money and fewer job opportunities will mean more poverty and crime.

What can we do to fight this? Patronize only those businesses that pay workers $15 or more hourly. Call out companies that don’t. Support organizations that fight poverty.

Prediction 2: Massive decisions based on hunches and rewarding friends.

Arbitrary decision making and cronyism has only just begun. When you have lots of friends and lots of jobs to fill, there’s no end to the possibilities. Ford is a big proponent of subways regardless of need, cost and location. He famously suggested building a casino at Exhibition Place and and a ferris wheel on the Port Lands. Now that he’s in charge, the sky will be the limit. The TTC’s subway system will soon be handed over to the hopelessly inept Metrolinx. These are the people who are bungling the Presto Card implementation  The subway takeover plan will involve selling building rights on top of subway stations. The TTC will become a bus service. Incidentally, Metrolinx seems to taking measures designed to suck up to Ford – things like removing electric vehicle charging outlets from GO stations.

Prediction 3: A fire sale of provincial assets.

In order to balance the books and pay for Ford’s re-shaping of Ontario, the private sector will be called on to provide financing. Obtaining private money will involve selling precious public assets such as the LCBO and Ontario Place.

Prediction 4: A two-tier health care system.

Our health care system eats up $53.3 billion or about 39% of the Ontario budget. Ford would dearly love to find ‘efficiencies’ here. He may want private companies and hospitals to set up shop in Ontario. He may also entertain the possibility of people jumping the queue for a fee. A big obstacle is the Canada Health Act and that is why Ford is openly campaigning against Justin Trudeau in the hopes that a Conservative federal government will repeal or amend the act to insert some private health care. The new system might look like the  U.K.’s National Health Service which runs alongside a private system. When the rich (and politicians) are able to jump the queue, you can guarantee that health care for regular folks will suffer.

Prediction 5: Less information and more secrecy.

Many decisions made by the Ford government are made to reward his cronies or appease his fringe supporters and don’t hold up well under scrutiny (1998 Health Curriculum, Ron Taverner…).  Look for Ford and his government to distance themselves even further from accountability and awkward questions from the press. They spread the word through Ontario’s taxpayer funded version of Pravda.

Prediction 6: Local lefty initiatives to end.

Now that Councillor Frances Nunziata has been re-elected, look for her pre-election moderate stance to be dropped. Lefty frivolities such as bike paths and pedestrian safety measures will be quietly shelved. Ms Nunziata will continue to be the councillor most likely to vote with Mayor Tory.

Glimmers of hope for Weston /Mount Dennis:

The Weston Hub will open in February along with many new residents in the 360+ rental units. A small colony of artists will occupy the live / work spaces. Construction on the site will end allowing the area to flourish.
The Weston Farmers Market will have an attractive new home in the centre of Weston that will attract people from outside the area. Two cultural organizations, Shakespeare in Action and UrbanArts hold anchor positions in the new Hub and will also attract visitors to our community.

More businesses are opening up as the UP Express provides a rapid and regular link to downtown.

On Weston Road, retail stores are being renovated and a payday loan company has closed.

A small number of affordable units at 22 John Street will be made available through a lottery held between eligible applicants. Use this link to apply (the link becomes live on Monday January 14; the application process will close January 28).

Interesting Possibilities:

Prime Minister Trudeau will perform a minor cabinet shuffle on Monday and unpopular York South-Weston MP, Ahmed Hussen may be moved laterally or demoted. A lateral move might be part of an effort to distance Mr. Hussen from the burdensome immigration file and boost his chances in October’s general election.

Ron Taverner back on the job with TPS

After a storm of controversy, Ron Taverner has rescinded his resignation from the Toronto Police Service and is back on the job as north west district commander (Divisions 12, 23 and 31) that he left on Friday. On Saturday, Mr Taverner asked that his appointment as OPP Commissioner be put on hold pending the results of an inquiry (requested by the NDP) by the Integrity Commissioner.

Two days after the OPP Commissioner’s job was posted, the requirements (deputy police chief or higher) were lowered thus allowing Superintendent Taverner to apply and his selection, according to the Ontario Newsroom site, was the, “unanimous recommendation of a selection committee comprised exclusively of members of the Ontario Public Service and supported by Odgers Berndtson, an executive search firm.”. Apparently 23 out of the 27 candidates for the job met the original requirements so lowering them was probably not merited on the basis of a shortage of candidates.

Acting OPP Commissioner (and fellow candidate for the job) Brad Blair cried foul on Taverner’s appointment and has since been demoted.

Many pundits have claimed that the fix was in and that Taverner’s friendship with Premier Ford was the reason for his appointment. Superintendent Taverner may well have been the best candidate to lead the OPP. Unfortunately, perceptions of the Premier’s large thumb on the scale have tainted his appointment and there is likely no going back regardless of the Integrity Commissioner’s report.

10 Wilby sales going well

10 Wilby Crescent – artists concept.

The Humber, a 22-storey condo under construction at 10 Wilby is now 40% sold according to Options For Homes’ latest newsletter. Demand for parking spaces has exceeded supply (from the original 131) and OFH is planning to add another level of underground parking in response. This entirely non-smoking, (vaping allowed), building should be ready by 2021 or 2022.

OFH is offering a $500 reward to anyone referring someone who goes on to purchase a home in The Humber. Find out more here or in the latest OFH newsletter here.

Incidentally, OFH has some great information on their site about the amenities here in Weston.