BMO bites it

Weston has lost another bank.

The BMO at Weston and John closed on Friday; the nearest Bank of Montreal branch is now at Jane and Wilson.

Two TDs, the BMO, the Scotiabank, and one Royal Bank have closed in recent years. (I could be forgetting some, and yet others have closed in Mount Dennis.) We now have only one major bank branch left: the Royal Bank at Weston and Lawrence.

While the major banks have left town, we do have at least 11 cheque-cashing  and money-lending businesses, demonstrating that residents do need financial services—but not ones the major banks will provide.

 

Another loss for Weston

I too will miss the loss of Weston’s last supermarket. Greenland Farms may have had an odour – show me a fish store that doesn’t smell- but it served the community well for many years providing a large selection of produce along with amazing foods from a variety of ethnic sources.
Sadly, we have a council, mayor and councillor bent on austerity; unwilling to do anything to mitigate the effects of uncontrolled development on our community.

No doubt our councillor will reassure us that the new building will have retail and food stores on the ground floor but the truth is that the community has lost yet another vital asset and the alleged replacement is many years away.
Surely Ms Nunziata must concede some measure of responsibility for Weston’s decline over the past decades of her incumbency? Her voting record seems to reflect a service to the development industry rather than to her actual constituents.

As former prime minister and reformed secular saint, Brian Mulroney famously observed, ‘You dance with the ones that brung you’.

And the music plays on.

zài jiàn, sayonara, annyeonghi gyesipsio, tạm biệt, Greenland Supermarkets

It looks like Greenland Markets has shut its doors for good.  The expansive room is empty, and the fixtures are gone.

I can’t find any development applications for the site, though it seems likely to be rebuilt. The business is also for sale, though, which seems odd. Your input is welcome.

I really liked the grocery my kids grew up calling “the stinky store”. It had a crazy mix of wildly different foods from all around the world, and it was cheap. I eventually changed my kids’ minds with Pocky and other gooey Japanese snacks.

They’ll miss it too.

Alessandro Candeloro, owner of Brioni’s, has passed away

Alessandro Candeloro, who owned and ran Brioni’s supermarket for more than 50 years, has passed away. Alessandro was married to his wife, Raffaela, for 55 years, and had three sons.

Several years ago, one of our young writers wrote about Brioni’s. You can read Lieselotte’s article here.

Wiff Restaurant gets a nod.

Somehow in the New Year’s celebrations I missed an article in Toronto.com about Weston’s Wiff Restaurant at 1804 Weston Road which serves a Somali-Italian fusion menu. Readers may have sampled their samosas at the Weston Farmers Market.

Read the article here.

Read Melissa’s Weston Web article from 2012 here.

New Year Predictions

As the new year progresses, it’s probably a good time to make some local and not so local predictions for 2019 and beyond.

Where we are right now.

During the regimes of the late Rob Ford and current mayor John Tory, Toronto has suffered almost a decade of austerity. Now that we have a premier who operates on the same policies, it looks as if Toronto’s public realm will shrink at a more rapid pace. While John Tory looks and sounds like a moderate politician, he’s as radically right-wing as either of the Ford brothers.
Austerity at the provincial level will add to Toronto’s woes, particularly here in Weston / Mount Dennis, especially after Ford gerrymandered Toronto Council by halving the number of councillors and basing council seats on outdated demographics. The current council will have enough support for John Tory to continue the decline of our city. The only differences between Mayor Tory and Premier Ford involve jurisdiction and style rather than political leanings.

A feature of the Rob Ford and John Tory mayoralties has been ignoring the planners and making awful decisions based on dogma and pandering rather than actual need. (Scarborough Subway, Gardiner rebuilding, dangerous streets and the failure of Vision Zero, lousy transit planning, an ineffective and demoralized police force, uncontrolled development…). Added to that, the refusal to charge an appropriate level of property tax has resulted in a lack of funds for city initiatives along with a dilapidated and inadequate public housing inventory. The late British actor Peter Ustinov once called Toronto, “New York run by the Swiss.“. I wonder how he would have described the 2019 version of our city.

Prediction 1: Poverty is about to get real in Weston / Mount Dennis.

Ford has frozen the (already inadequate) minimum wage at $14.00 an hour. It was due to rise to $15 this January 1. This roughly translates to a $2000 annual loss for minimum wage earners, only slightly offset by a tax cut. Basically, general taxes subsidize the wages of minimum wage earners while companies keep the savings and remove them from the community. Other austerity measures include removal of funding for repairs to Toronto schools and public housing (the money would have come from Cap and Trade). Less money and fewer job opportunities will mean more poverty and crime.

What can we do to fight this? Patronize only those businesses that pay workers $15 or more hourly. Call out companies that don’t. Support organizations that fight poverty.

Prediction 2: Massive decisions based on hunches and rewarding friends.

Arbitrary decision making and cronyism has only just begun. When you have lots of friends and lots of jobs to fill, there’s no end to the possibilities. Ford is a big proponent of subways regardless of need, cost and location. He famously suggested building a casino at Exhibition Place and and a ferris wheel on the Port Lands. Now that he’s in charge, the sky will be the limit. The TTC’s subway system will soon be handed over to the hopelessly inept Metrolinx. These are the people who are bungling the Presto Card implementation  The subway takeover plan will involve selling building rights on top of subway stations. The TTC will become a bus service. Incidentally, Metrolinx seems to taking measures designed to suck up to Ford – things like removing electric vehicle charging outlets from GO stations.

Prediction 3: A fire sale of provincial assets.

In order to balance the books and pay for Ford’s re-shaping of Ontario, the private sector will be called on to provide financing. Obtaining private money will involve selling precious public assets such as the LCBO and Ontario Place.

Prediction 4: A two-tier health care system.

Our health care system eats up $53.3 billion or about 39% of the Ontario budget. Ford would dearly love to find ‘efficiencies’ here. He may want private companies and hospitals to set up shop in Ontario. He may also entertain the possibility of people jumping the queue for a fee. A big obstacle is the Canada Health Act and that is why Ford is openly campaigning against Justin Trudeau in the hopes that a Conservative federal government will repeal or amend the act to insert some private health care. The new system might look like the  U.K.’s National Health Service which runs alongside a private system. When the rich (and politicians) are able to jump the queue, you can guarantee that health care for regular folks will suffer.

Prediction 5: Less information and more secrecy.

Many decisions made by the Ford government are made to reward his cronies or appease his fringe supporters and don’t hold up well under scrutiny (1998 Health Curriculum, Ron Taverner…).  Look for Ford and his government to distance themselves even further from accountability and awkward questions from the press. They spread the word through Ontario’s taxpayer funded version of Pravda.

Prediction 6: Local lefty initiatives to end.

Now that Councillor Frances Nunziata has been re-elected, look for her pre-election moderate stance to be dropped. Lefty frivolities such as bike paths and pedestrian safety measures will be quietly shelved. Ms Nunziata will continue to be the councillor most likely to vote with Mayor Tory.

Glimmers of hope for Weston /Mount Dennis:

The Weston Hub will open in February along with many new residents in the 360+ rental units. A small colony of artists will occupy the live / work spaces. Construction on the site will end allowing the area to flourish.
The Weston Farmers Market will have an attractive new home in the centre of Weston that will attract people from outside the area. Two cultural organizations, Shakespeare in Action and UrbanArts hold anchor positions in the new Hub and will also attract visitors to our community.

More businesses are opening up as the UP Express provides a rapid and regular link to downtown.

On Weston Road, retail stores are being renovated and a payday loan company has closed.

A small number of affordable units at 22 John Street will be made available through a lottery held between eligible applicants. Use this link to apply (the link becomes live on Monday January 14; the application process will close January 28).

Interesting Possibilities:

Prime Minister Trudeau will perform a minor cabinet shuffle on Monday and unpopular York South-Weston MP, Ahmed Hussen may be moved laterally or demoted. A lateral move might be part of an effort to distance Mr. Hussen from the burdensome immigration file and boost his chances in October’s general election.