York South-Weston MP, Mike Sullivan pulled no punches when he announced his private member’s bill in Cruickshank Park today. Normally, building projects that affect the Humber must undergo an environmental assessment. During last year’s federal budget, the government removed this requirement from hundreds of Canadian rivers including all of the Humber and its tributaries, north of Bloor. As previously mentioned in Weston Web, private members’ bills rarely become law because in this case, the majority Conservatives will vote against it. The tactic is commonly used to raise awareness of a concern and this appears to be the goal of Sullivan and his party, the NDP. Sullivan would like protection restored to the Humber which is one of Canada’s heritage rivers. To make his point he even waded into the river in rubber boots. Sullivan believes the reason protection has been removed from the Humber is so that companies will have an easier time when building projects on sensitive land such as the Humber watershed. Enbridge, for example will have an easier time increasing the flow rate in one of their pipelines which travels through the Humber watershed.
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority board member Mike Mattos talked about pollution entering the river from a variety of sources and the need for more protection not less. If the pipeline ruptures, as some have in the past, said Mattos, it could take hours before the flow is stopped.
Mary Louise Ashbourne, President of the Weston Historical Society emphasized the important part that the Humber has played in Canadian history and was of the opinion that while all rivers in Ontario are important, designated Heritage rivers such as the Humber deserve special protection.
Sullivan was handing out petitions supporting his argument that he will take to Parliament. Download a copy here. A YouTube video of the news conference is available here. The openparliament.ca transcript of the bill’s introduction by Sullivan is here.
On April 27 (after we thought Weston had enjoyed a crime-free week), Police released a couple of crime bulletins requesting the public’s assistance in tracking down a man wanted in connection with an attempted kidnapping on Thursday, April 25 around 1 p.m. near 2079 Lawrence Avenue West. Two men allegedly attempted to force a third into a vehicle, assaulting him in the process. A brave passer-by shouted at the men and the suspects drove off without the victim. Police have identified one of the men as Eric Coplin−Duran, 18 who is considered dangerous. The police report can be found here.
This begs the question of whether the new security cameras provided any information regarding this incident as Weston and Lawrence are quite close by and the car, on the south side of Lawrence, would have therefore travelled east through the intersection. Apart from signs informing people of their presence, no actual cameras can be seen (at least by your correspondent after gamely squinting on several occasions). Perhaps they are so tiny that they aren’t visible. Have readers managed to spot any of the cameras?
A second bulletin released the same day reported an exchange of gunfire in the hallway of 1855 Jane Street. One of the alleged shooters by the name of Adrian Scott is being sought along with a second man.
After much study and consultation, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation has produced a five-year parks plan to be implemented, beginning this year (subject to City Council approval).
Extensive consultation of citizens, staff and industry experts determined four basic functions of parks management:
1. Communicate and connect with users
2. Preserve and promote nature
3. Maintain quality parks
4. Improve system planning
One of the more interesting proposals under Item 1 is the introduction of an Urban Park Ranger who would be a more visible presence in parks and would be a
‘primary point of contact for individuals and groups wanting to engage with the parks system and build relationships with community stakeholders’
Combing through the corporate jargon of relationships and stakeholders (are community stakeholders the people using the park barbecues? Ed.), it appears that park rangers will be the human face of the park system and will be tasked with ensuring that City and park by-laws are more more rigorously enforced. A commitment to providing or improving park amenities such as washrooms, signage, shade areas and benches is also proposed. Another interesting idea is the establishment of a centralized parks volunteer and donations system. Businesses and people might like to donate money, land or time to the parks system but at the moment there is no formal system in place.
This will be a timely intervention for our local parks that can sometimes look a bit neglected when compared to the elaborate facilities and displays found in more upscale areas of Toronto.
The plan is a long read but well worth the effort. Comments on the proposal can be directed here.
Spring is late this year and plants and animals alike seem to have been slow to react. Here are some signs of spring seen around Weston.
The downside of spring is also present. With the stores along Weston Road looking a bit bedraggled, the last thing Weston needs is beggars adding to the atmosphere of neglect. This gentleman happily obliged on Tuesday afternoon.
Now that the snow has gone, the unsightly legacy of people who litter is revealed in all its glory. This lovely stretch is in Lions Park by the condo’s on Hickory Tree Road. The nearby soccer field is kept very clean so why this adjacent patch is left alone is a mystery.
Lastly, we have some great kids with artistic talent in Weston. On the other hand, the kids responsible for this mess think art is short for Arthur. They think Banksy is a small bank. I could go on…
One has to wonder if it’s arrogance, inexperience or plain old bloody-mindedness but Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray has decided that photo-ops are a much better way of advancing his career than dealing with Westonians’ outrage over mud traffic and noise generated by the Weston Tunnel construction. Back in January, two days before the recent Ontario Liberal leadership convention Mr Murray shrewdly traded his wafer-thin chances of becoming Premier to front-runner Kathleen Wynne in exchange for a cabinet position.
On Thursday, responding to residents’ concerns about Weston Tunnel noise, work schedules and mud tracked through the neighbourhood, MP Mike Sullivan requested to speak to the Minister by phone within 48 hours. Apparently Minister Murray is far too busy to come to the phone but through an assistant, generously promised to make contact if “the Minister’s schedule opens up for a call in the near future”. Sullivan placed a request to meet with Murray last February but has heard nothing to date. Even letters from fellow Liberal, MPP Laura Albanese and Toronto Councillor Frances Nunziata can’t get the Minister down from his high horse. We’ve all heard that power corrupts. However, Mr. Murray is merely Transportation Minister in a lame duck government that by tradition (with an unelected Premier) will have to go to the polls soon. Despite the probability that he’s about to join a number of his colleagues on the unemployment lines the Minister seems to think he has bigger fish to fry than deal with a bunch of complainers in Weston.
Soon we’ll have an election call. Minister Murray will become Candidate Murray, when no doubt his tone will become a lot more conciliatory. Glen Murray will be just fine regardless of the outcome. He doesn’t care that people in Weston are asking for help. There’s always an institute or community college that will employ him now that he’s quite well known. He’ll be able to add cabinet minister to the long list of jobs on his resumé – ka-ching.
No doubt the Premier will be horrified to hear that one of her ministers is ignoring the concerns of residents and their elected representatives. Use this link to direct your concerns to the Premier directly.
Post Script: April 13: Metrolinx has agreed to stick with the original construction schedule. According to MPP Laura Albanese and Councillor Frances Nunziata,
Metrolinx has listened to the community and has agreed to suspend the extended hours it had intended to put into place in the King St area. Work will continue from 7 am – 7 pm on weekdays and on Saturdays, as has been the case thus far. We have been informed that Metrolinx will be providing information to the community early next week and will survey residents on the options for moving forward.
A follow-up meeting with Metrolinx will be held in the next 2-3 weeks.
So, who knew that provincial agencies have some kind of ‘diplomatic immunity’ in the City of Toronto? Who knew that they only obey city bylaws as a courtesy? On that basis, presumably workers can safely ignore parking and other regulations in addition to cheerfully dispensing mud everywhere for Metrolinx.
Phrasing this as politely as possible; Horse Puckey!
Private companies are doing the work and as such they are surely required to obey the by-laws in the jurisdiction where they operate, no matter who employs them. How Ms Nunziata was fobbed off with the old ‘we can do what we like’ nonsense is beyond comprehension. Besides, Metrolinx doesn’t want or need any more negative publicity. Surely some sharp words and righteous indignation from the councillor could have brought them to heel regardless of who can do what and where.