Short shrift for back yard chickens

After a groundswell of popular opinion, progressive cities like New York, Vancouver BC, Kingston ON; Brampton, ON; Guelph; ON; and Niagara Falls, ON; now allow people to raise chickens in their back yards. Provisions are made so that there are standards of space, noise and cleanliness, smell etc. Similarly, here in Toronto, a popular movement has arisen with the same goal in mind.
The matter went to council in December and council, recognizing a growing interest, asked the city’s Licensing and Standards Committee to investigate the feasibility of allowing the practice.

The movement came to a screeching halt today at today’s Licensing and Standards meeting where members basically sent the idea to the place where motions go to die; i.e. the matter was deferred indefinitely. Notable among the objectors were our own councillor Frances Nunziata who was quoted as saying, ‘If you want chicken, go to Swiss Chalet’. Gloria Lindsay Luby came out with the catchy phrase, ‘Not in my back yard’.

Apparently not in anyone else’s either.

Police Accuse Lounge Owner of Bribery

1709 Jane Street.

The owner of  De Blue Note Lounge at 1709 Jane Street has been charged with three counts of bribery and one count of attempting to obstruct justice. The charges came after police investigated complaints of booze can activities on the premises. Richard Nkabu is alleged to have paid $500 to a police officer in the hopes that the police would ignore the complaints.

Crunch Time for Weston This Week

This is the week when Toronto City Council votes to determine the extent of cuts to various city departments and organizations. Many departments have seen major cuts scaled back as public pressure has mounted. As already noted, last October, Police Chief Bill Blair presented an expenditure increase as a cut and stared down opposition. As a result, by 2013 the cost of policing this city will approach a billion dollars and continue to consume an ever-increasing portion of the total budget. Chief Blair can confidently assume that his budget will be relatively untouched, either this year or in the years to come.

In contrast, the Toronto Public Library system has managed its resources prudently over the past several years. Library visits are up while costs have declined on a per capita basis since 2004. As a reward for their efficiency, libraries, which are reckoned to be the great equalizers in terms of social opportunity, still face cuts to hours and personnel. Rather than being planned and deliberate, budget cuts appear to be dependent on force of personality, the mood of councillors, and public pressure rather than actual need. Hardly a rational or well-thought out process.

Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22) has an excellent summary of potential cuts here.

Our councillor, Frances Nunziata represents one of the poorest wards in the city yet has voted consistently to reduce programs and services that mitigate the grinding poverty of many of her constituents. Her voting record for 2011 reflects a 97% adherence to the Ford Agenda.

It is hoped in her 15th year as councillor that she will start the New Year with a resolution to do the right thing and vote to maintain programs and services so desperately needed in Ward 11.

New Community Centre Moves Forward

Location of the new community centre.

A beautiful new community centre on the south-east corner of Black Creek Drive and Eglinton is another step closer to reality following approval to amend the Official Plan at today’s Etobicoke York Community Council meeting. The two-storey centre will house a swimming pool, gym, track, kitchen, meeting rooms and other facilities. Officially in Ward 12, the centre will be welcomed by Weston residents. Although 170 trees will have to be removed from the site to accommodate the building and infrastructure, more than a thousand replacements will be planted.

GO Train now goes to Kitchener

They may run at an inconvenient time, but the 5:02 pm and 6:02 pm GO trains from Weston station run all the way to Kitchener. There are likewise two inbound trains from Kitchener each morning that pass through Weston on their way to Union Station. The Weston to Kitchener trip takes a leisurely 1 hour 40 minutes.

I guess it would be handy for Oktoberfest!

As a result of the new extension, the Georgetown Line is being renamed the Kitchener Line.

Airport Link and All Day GO – Implications for Weston Residents

The mainstream press rediscovers the Airport Link every so often and now is no exception. For some reason, the line is back in the consciousness of the media. It’s probably a good time to look at some of the issues and implications for Weston.

Firstly, we have to thank the good people at Weston Community Coalition and the Clean Train Coalition and others who took the time and trouble to yell loudly enough to ensure that the train would stop at Weston at all. When first planned, only one stop was designated along the way at Dundas West.  Labelled Blue 22 because of the anticipated 22-minute journey, the train will now take 25 minutes from Pearson to Union Station with the added stop in Weston. Hopefully it will one day be called the Green 25 but not yet as the trains will be tier 4 diesels – there’s probably no way of fixing that for several years as the Japanese locomotives for the link were a done deal years ago, money is tight and there isn’t likely to be another election soon. It’s a shame but that’s politics for you. Some of the noise will be reduced through barriers and along one section, a tunnel. As for pollution, allegedly these diesels are somewhat less polluting than GO Trains but electric will be far cleaner, quieter and faster when it eventually arrives. The reason for the haste is that the link was promised for the 2015 Pan Am games to move spectators between downtown and the Airport (athletes will have their own dedicated buses and lanes along the 427 and Gardiner).

Because  of the need to reduce noise levels, the tracks near the existing station will be lowered into a tunnel. The station will move south of Lawrence this spring where more parking can be accommodated. Work is already well under way in the new location. John Street will be revitalized.

Also in 2015, our anemic GO Train service will be increased to an all-day service with double the number of trains running.

So to summarize: in 2015, Weston will have an all-day train service to downtown as well as stops along the way and in addition will be served by a separate link with rapid access to Pearson Airport (probably under 10 minutes) as well as to downtown. The new station is being designed with community input (next meeting February 2, 2012 at York West Active Living Centre 1901 Weston Road), will be much more visible, have lots of parking and will be accessible from Lawrence Avenue as well as Weston Road. Although fares will be more expensive than the subway, the added convenience and speed (under 20 minutes to downtown) will be an excellent trade-off.

What are the implications? For real estate developers, having such a rapid portal to two huge places of interest will spark a frenzy of property buying in this area. If the fares are affordable, airport workers from baggage handlers to pilots will love to live with such easy access—easier and faster than just about any other transportation method, as the new Link will connect directly to Terminal One. The range of housing available is stunning, from the mansions of historic Weston to apartments and condos—and at bargain prices too. People who work in downtown Toronto will find that Weston will be an easy commute with flexibility thanks to the all-day service. There will be a building boom in a wide area around the station to accommodate the new travellers and their needs. Apartment buildings will spring up near the station. Another implication: Weston may begin to see signs of gentrification—perhaps a Starbucks and a restaurant chain or two; fewer payday loan companies, dollar stores and vacant properties. Older apartment buildings will spruce themselves up in order to attract a changing demographic, sparking a boom in renovations. Rents both commercial and retail will go up. Condos that have languished for years will be snapped up.

A danger exists that Weston station will be replaced by another location, possibly a mobility hub (note two links) along the way. This will perhaps take years and with vigilance and community activism may never happen.