Sullivan to unveil Humber protection bill

The entrance to Cruickshank Park will be the scene of a press conference to be held at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 30 by York South-Weston MP Mike Sullivan. He will unveil a bill to enhance ‘environmental protection of the Humber River by amending the Navigable Waters Protection Act‘.

The event will take place at the pedestrian entrance to the park at Weston and Church.

Attempted kidnapping at Lawrence and Weston

Eric Coplin−Duran
Eric Coplin−Duran

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.

Urban Park Rangers – coming to a park near you.

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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.

Welcome and not so welcome signs of spring.

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.

A pair of mallards swim by the Humber.
A pair of mallards swim by the Humber.
A recumbent cyclist passes by the newly green grass of Raymore Park.
A recumbent cyclist passes by the newly green grass of Raymore Park.
A carpet of bluebells flows like a river in Cruickshank Park
A carpet of bluebells flows like a river through Cruickshank Park
Tennis players are out in force at Weston Tennis Club.
Tennis players are out in force at Weston Tennis Club.

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.

A beggar (face obscured) adds the finishing touch to a bedraggled looking Weston Road.
A beggar (face obscured) adds the finishing touch to a sorry-looking Weston Road.

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.

This litter brought to you by folks too lazy to walk to a bin.
This litter brought to you by folks too lazy to walk to a bin.

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…

Graffitti by the talentless under the Lawrence Avenue bridge.
Graffitti by the talentless under the Lawrence Avenue bridge.

Murray stonewalls on mud and noise.

April 13th: a worker scrapes  mud off the roadway at a construction exit on Church Street.

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.

Province can do what it likes? Perhaps not.

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.

Weston featured in CCTV video surveillance article

Saturday’s article in the National Post didn’t do Weston any favours. As a result of crimes such as repeated muggings in prominent locations, long promised security cameras have yet to be installed along Lawrence at Weston, Pine and Jane. In the story which dealt with the growing number of such cameras around the city, our councillor cheerfully painted a grim picture (contrary to the reality of falling crime levels) of how crime-ridden we are in Weston. Do we really need to give people the impression that we live in a lawless area with bullets flying?

Much of the criminal activity occurring was phone theft. While serious and traumatic for victims, these are not major crimes. When allowed to continue however, they represent a failure of policing in that they were happening regularly in the same locations and little was done to address the problem. Petty thieves became emboldened and escalated their activities. Instead of staking out these known locations or setting up foot patrols where officers walk the beat and get to know a community, TPS uses a system in which police spend much of their shift waiting for calls. Hence the common appearance of several cruisers at a crime scene. We did have a group of provincially funded TAVIS officers in the summer of 2011 but one-off solutions are ineffective. The TAVIS team rarely ventured out in groups of less than five or six and rather than being ambassadors for the police, they seemed quite intimidating on occasions.

Once criminals know about cameras in a particular location, they will simply move to another spot in which to commit their crimes. The answer to crime prevention is not simply cameras and cell-phone legislation – we can’t have cameras in every public place surely?  Then what? Does crime prevention become a matter of employing teams of people who spend all day watching monitors? Perhaps send a drone over to check things out? Four million such cameras are currently in use in the U.K. They seem to do little to prevent criminal activity.

The answer is getting officers out of cars and walking the beat while getting to know a neighbourhood; especially in times and places when and where crimes are most likely to occur. The benefits will be immediate – healthier officers, better relations with the community, lower pollution levels and less crime.

In the meantime, don’t hold your breath for the cameras to appear anytime soon. In spite of a 2011 recommendation that they be installed, Toronto Police still have to ask permission from Toronto Hydro to use their poles.