Weston Artists’ Good Food Market

From humble beginnings great things are possible.

That’s my take on the launch of the Weston Artists Good Food Market at the Weston Common.

This exciting weekly summer event is focused on making fresh produce accessible to our community, at cost. One neighbour was so surprised when her large bag of produce came to $3.75, that she handed over a $5 bill and asked if she could just donate her change to the cause.

Philip Sutherland, the organizer, said the fresh fruit is popular—fresh raspberries, blueberries, and mangoes went fast. (They’ll have more next week.) He added that the Artists’ booth was postponed due to windy conditions, but it’ll be back soon. And he hopes to hear from more local artists, bakers, butchers, chefs and cooks who want to be a part of the Wednesday market.

But there’s more to this event than affordable produce. It’s organized by a few of the artists living in our community. They have brought their friends from Collective Arts Brewing along, selling some of the most original craft beer, sparkling teas, cider, and bitters I’ve ever seen.

The labels are adorned with literal art from unknown and emerging artists. The two staffing the booth were thrilled to be discovering Weston, “all the neighbours are so friendly and happy to see us…and we’re busier here than we are at our other two markets.” They’ve applied to be a part of the Weston Farmers’ Market starting Saturday June 5th.

This event is organized by the West Toronto Photography Club and sponsors like Access Community Capital Fund (a non-profit that makes small loans for people with big ideas).

The Artists’ Market is every Wednesday from 3pm–6pm until September 1st.

Happy (belated) 456th Willy.

From cathtatecards.com

April 23rd is Shakespeare’s official birthday. He was born in April 1564 and while there is uncertainty about the exact date, he definitely died on that date in 1616 and a convenient legend may have been established since April 23rd is also the feast day of St. George, patron saint of England (among other places).

Shakespeare was no stranger to pandemics and plagues. He may have written King Lear while in quarantine. Theatres were closed over a five-year period beginning in 1603 so the current pandemic, while a lot less deadly, would be familiar to him.

Here in Weston, we have an organization dedicated to bringing Shakespeare’s works to young people, Shakespeare in Action. SIA is one of the two anchor artistic organizations resident in the Weston Hub. They are currently organizing an activity open to all but aimed at people over the age of 55.

Read on below:

Did you know Shakespeare wrote his play King Lear in quarantine?  Come join Pete Smith and Shakespeare in Action in our free online drop-in story-telling workshop for folks over 55.  Tell a story. Tell your story.

Using Shakespeare’s King Lear as a springboard, you’ll receive guidance, be offered tools, and be inspired, to write, and tell compelling personal and fictional tales.

Through this story-sharing, we hope to create an ensemble and collect stories to turn into a community-based theatre production when social distancing is a thing of the past.

When:  Mondays @ 10am – 11am
Dates:  May 4th – Jun 1st, 2020 *excluding May 18th*Where: Zoom

Who: Priority for folks over 55 living in York South – Weston, but also open to anyone of any age who wants to be part of this project.

How: If you’re over 55, Email Danna at York West Active Living Centre at [email protected] or click the links below.

Why: Feeling isolated?  Want to share stories?  Come join!

Farmers Market to delay 2020 opening

Weston Farmers Market in August 2004 at the old John Street location. (file)

Weston’s farmers market can’t catch a break.

Run by the Weston Village Business Improvement Area, the market was supposed to open in its spanking (if constrained) new Hub location on John Street in 2018 and when the site wasn’t ready, the market was able to survive thanks to the generosity of Weston Park Baptist Church. They loaned their parking lot by the UP Express station.

The new WFM space photographed last November.

The 2019 booting out of long time trader (and actual farmer) Joe Gaeta was another setback and then as luck would have it, the following week, city inspectors withdrew the Farmers Market designation because of insufficient, er, actual farmers.

Joe Gaeta at work in August 2018. (file)

In yet another blow to the WFM, the BIA announced yesterday that the market will delay its 2020 opening until Saturday, July 4 at the earliest.

From the Facebook post announcing the delay:

“On behalf of the board of the Weston Village BIA, I regret to inform you that because of Covid19,and the city’s restrictions with respect to gatherings of 5 and over, we are delaying the opening of the 2020 market to Sat, July 4th or until restrictions are lifted by the city.

The market is a wonderful community gathering place, but, right now, the health and safety of our customers, vendors and market staff are the main priority.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

Stay Safe. We are all in this together!”

For extra credit; read more here.

NOW Magazine puts spotlight on 22 John

NOW Magazine used the 22 John St rental building to highlight how a change in rental laws has hurt renters: new buildings aren’t covered by rent control.

“We now have two classes of tenants in Ontario: those who live in units built pre-November 2018 that have rent control measures and those who live in units built after where the landlords can raise the rents however much they want ever year,” says Toronto Centre MPP Suze Morrison, the NDP’s housing critic. “22 John is one of the first buildings where we saw this loophole being utilized.”

 

Tenants’ union pushes for smaller rent increases

The new York South–Weston Tenant Union is asking the owners of 22 John to hold their rent increases to 2.2%, and they’ve signed up many community groups in support, in addition to Frances Nunziata and Faisal Hassan.

Late last year, the owners of 22 John wanted to raise rents on month-to-month tenants by as much as 25%. Tenants who signed yearly leases were asked to bear a smaller increase: about 6%. The owners later backed down on the largest increases.

The Tenant Union says that the building was “subsidized through millions of dollars in public investments”. This isn’t quite what it seems. The below-market units were subsidized, but there are also also at-market rentals built with the developer’s own money. These rentals received no subsidies, and the developers—rightly or wrongly—are entitled by law to increase those rents.

In the press release, Chiara Padovani said

“This is what York South-Weston is all about. When our neighbours are struggling, we step up and help each other out. Stable housing is key to building a healthy community, and we’re all part of this community.”

 

 

Weston Development (29 Storeys)

At the Community Meeting about the proposal for the development at the Greenland Farms site (Weston and Little Ave.), the developer’s agent tried to justify the immense building on the basis of the province’s plans to increase development around ‘Major Transit Stations’.  Weston GO station (as long as we keep our GO trains) is such a Major Transit Station.  The new provincial plans (now called ‘A Place to Grow’) require a planned density of 150 persons and jobs per hectare (1/100 of a square kilometre) around GO Stations.  From the city of Toronto, this definition:

So, what does this mean for Weston?  First, the 500 metre radius looks like this.

The Greenland Farms development will clearly be within that circle which extends north to almost King, south to part of Sykes, east along Lawrence to Pine, and west to just into Etobicoke.

But the real question is, how much density do we need to achieve the provincial plan?  Do we really need to permit several 29 and 36 storey towers?

The answer can be found in the 2016 Census.  Here is a map of the west part of Toronto with densities in different colours – dark blue being the densest.

The Census data is in persons per square kilometre.  Weston is already the densest part of the west end, with the possible exception of part of Dixon Road.  And the densities of the areas closest to the proposed development are already substantially more than 150 persons per hectare, not counting any jobs which may exist.

By small census areas, here are the actual densities.

35204426 – West side of Weston Road, Little to St. Phillips – Density 153.3 persons per hectare

35204415 – East side of Weston Road, King to John to tracks – Density 181.73 persons per hectare

35204414 – North side of Lawrence to John St, Little to tracks – Density 177.57 persons per hectare

35204413 – South side of Lawrence, Hickory Tree to Weston Rd. – Density 292.12 persons per hectare

35204412 – South side of Lawrence, Weston to Pine and south to Denison – Density 69.19 persons per hectare

35204411 – West side of Weston Rd., Bellevue to Wright – Density 133.72 persons per hectare.

The 2016 census was before the building at 22 John was occupied.  So the density is already greater.  And the count does not include jobs, which takes the count even higher.

Weston is already plenty dense enough.  Developers cannot point to the provincial growth plan and claim a right to make it denser.  Even the legally allowed 8 storey maximum for development on Weston Road would significantly increase the density.

The city can and should say no to any more monstrous buildings in Weston. And defend such decision at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (successor to the OMB) should the developers appeal.  Developers who thought we’d be an easy mark can think again.