Weston Common Sold

Artscape Weston Common and the residential rental units in 2020. File.

Another stage of the Weston Common story has unfolded with the announcement yesterday that the entire complex at 22 John Street has been sold to three sections of a real estate company by the name of Dream. The purchase includes the Artscape managed Hub, both the old and new rental towers along with the 26 artist live/work studios. According to an article in RENX.ca the company stated that, “Dream’s intention is to increase the number of affordable units provided on-site as per CMHC’s definition of affordable rent for the area.”.

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.”