The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has released a comprehensive listing of affordable housing along the length of Weston Road. Many of the landmark high-rise buildings in Weston are included along with their history, focus and occupancy numbers. Among the interesting facts contained in the document are:
the privately owned buildings at 1765-75 Weston Road have received $1.8 million in ‘interest free forgivable loans’ (essentially a gift) in order to fix up the place.
a 10-storey apartment building is planned for Wilby Crescent (on the site of the old Vehicle Licence Office).
Metrolinx has contributed $1.1 million towards developing a creative/cultural hub on the site of the former GO Station parking lot.
If you ever get a chance to watch Cable 10’s live broadcasts or webcasts of Toronto City Council meetings, you’re in for quite an interesting time. This is where politics, personalties and dogma come together to exchange verbal blows and while the result isn’t pretty, it’s compulsive viewing for political junkies. It’s also a chance to view our councillor, Frances Nunziata in her other main role as Council Speaker.
Toronto blogger Cityslikr has written a scathing indictment of Councillor Frances Nunziata’s performance in this other role. Cityslikr puts our councillor’s performance right up there with the antics of wildly controversial Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, both tireless, partisan defenders of Mayor Rob Ford and his team. According to Cityslikr,
Hectoring, nakedly partisan, she has maintained the fractious, contentious tone bestowed on council chambers by Don Cherry in his inaugural address.
Last June, at the end of a year-long process of consultation, Metrolinx revealed the Weston Station Master Plan through a presentation followed by a discussion and question and answer session held at the Active Living Centre. The plan itself was not available in document form at the time but has now been finalized and released as a stand-alone 80-page document. The plan outlines the vision created when planning experts’ ideas have been combined with those of the community to produce a fascinating look into the future of Weston.
As residents we should all take the time to review this important document and take note of the implications for ourselves and future Weston residents.
As Adam has noted with regard to recent thefts from the new station’s bike racks, it is hoped that all aspects of the vision can be implemented with a clear eye on the realities of an urban environment.
The current unseemly squabble going on at City Hall surrounding a report from Fiona Crean, City Ombudsman is worthy of examination from a Weston viewpoint.
First, some background. There are 120 city boards and agencies that run the services provided to residents. For example, the Toronto Police Services Board establishes overall guidelines for the running of police services in consultation with the Chief of Police. While the Chief runs the day to day operations, the Board provides a framework but must keep clear of individual matters. On this board, the province picks three members, and the city gets to pick one. Most other Boards are made up of largely city selected citizens, and councillors. In the case of the Toronto Zoo, the current board comprises eight citizens (selected by the city) and six councillors (it should have eight citizens and four politicians).
The role of citizens on these boards is an important one. Applicants should be chosen carefully so that they are truly representative of the population and not with a hidden agenda or beholden to a special interest group. With this in mind, boards are mandated to advertise vacancies widely, outlining qualification requirements, some of which are quite rigorous. Citizens apply for board positions whenever vacancies arise and en masse after the election of a new council. Staff screen applicants checking that they have the required qualifications and are not lobbyists or in any other conflict of interest.
The Ombudsman’s report clearly finds that protocol was not followed in seeking citizen board members. Among other things the Mayor’s Office:
shortened candidate screening and evaluation timelines from the usual four weeks to just one.
directed staff to remove statements in ads encouraging minorities.
directed staff to boycott Toronto’s largest circulation newspaper (the Toronto Star) when placing ads for positions.
The Ombudsman referred to allegations that the Mayor’s Office had drawn up a list of preferred candidates but that this could not be proved.
In the aftermath since the release of the report some councillors have attacked the credibility of the Ombudsman. Our own councillor, Frances Nunziata acting in her role as speaker correctly asked York West councillor Giorgio Mammoliti to apologize after Mammoliti accused Crean of going beyond her mandate, declaring the report to be politically motivated. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Ms Nunziata from taking her own pot-shots at Crean by accusing her of not including comments from right-wingers in her report.
What is to be made of this? Should we be worried that the Mayor’s Office has attempted to substantially alter the process of citizen selection? That the Mayor’s office seems willing to discourage diversity among appointees? That an independent investigator whose job it is to protect the public is attacked and accused of bias? Should we be concerned when our councillor (representing one of the most diverse wards in the city) aligns herself with such behaviour?
NDP MPP for Davenport Jonah Schein revealed a sharp rightward shift by the McGuinty Liberals during Question Period in the Ontario Legislature today. The TTC will not be running the new LRT service along Eglinton through York South-Weston. Instead, a private company (presumably for profit) will be handed the task by Metrolinx. In fact, all the new lines under construction will be privately operated. This marks the beginning of the privatization of Toronto’s transportation – an alarming prospect to many. This month your reporter was charged the equivalent of $6.75 to travel two stops along the privately operated London Underground; not what you would call good value for money.
No doubt the Liberals will be soon telling us that the private sector can do things more efficiently. Unfortunately, the profits for private corporations will likely be coming out of taxpayers’ pockets in the form of higher fares and subsidies. The sale of the 407 in 1999 was a painful example of the dangers of privatizing public assets.
One is left to wonder if the Premier feels his minority government will fare better when aligned with the Tories rather than with the NDP. If so, look for similar announcements in the coming months. Watch the video of MPP Schein’s question here.
Quietly advertised in Lennard’s commercial real estate website is a 252 x 245 foot irregular property known as 16 John Street. It was the old GO Station’s parking lot and is currently home to the Weston Farmers Market.
The Toronto Parking Authority wants to sell the development rights to the site and asks that the purchaser build a 70-space parking lot for use by the TPA (and presumably the Farmers Market). The mls.ca listing says that:
Area Is Undergoing Significant Change With Other High Rise Condominiums Planned In The Immediate Area. The Site Will Also House A Cultural/Creative Hub And Provide For Surface Parking For The Toronto Parking Authority.
It might be nice to know what other condominiums are being planned for the ‘immediate area’. In addition, one can only hope that the bidding process is transparent.
Start saving your pennies; the due date for submissions is 12 noon on October 4th. A PDF of the listing is here.