Padovani tackles TD Canada Trust closing.

TD Canada Trust in Weston.

Chiara Padovani wants to be York South-Weston’s next councillor for Ward 11, replacing long-time incumbent Frances Nunziata. She has become quite active in the ward and among other things is closely monitoring the state of retail in YSW.

She recently promised that she would contact the Financial Consumer Agency regarding the recently announced closure of Weston’s TD Canada Trust branch. The closure was announced without any community consultation and Ms Padovani is seeking such a consultation by writing to the FCAC’s Commissioner, Lucie Tedesco.

Here is the letter that Ms Padovani sent:

Re: File with reference number 363484

Dear Commissioner Tedesco,

I am writing to request a meeting regarding the closure of the TD Canada Trust Bank located at 1979 Weston Road in Toronto Ontario (Branch Number 335).

This marks the fourth TD Branch closure in York South-Weston, a community that has become the target of predatory lending and payday loans. The bank has failed to fulfill its obligation to consult with the community, and many customers – myself included – did not even receive notice of the bank’s closure.

As a resident and local social worker in the community, I cannot stress the importance of providing fair access to financial institutions. Had TD Canada Trust consulted with the community, they would have become aware of the social and economic hardship that this closure will cause to the residents of Weston including but not limited to:

Proximity – The branch is within walking distance of over 10,000 residents. Many of these residents do not own cars and spending nearly $7 on the TTC fare required to get to the new location will be a significant barrier for low-income customers. In Forest Hill, a far less densely populated neighbourhood, there are seven TD Banks within close proximity of each other.

Accessibility – The branch is located in a neighbourhood where many residents are seniors and people with disabilities. These residents rely on this branch because they can access banking services without having to travel far.

Lack of financial alternatives – CIBC, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust branches have already closed down and left the neighbourhood. Predatory lenders are quickly filling the gap for financial services in York South-Weston. As you know, these institutions trap hard-working families in a cycle of debt and economic violence that will threaten the quality of life for too many in this community.

These are just some of the reasons I ask that the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada convene a public meeting between the community and TD Canada Trust to discuss and resolve the challenges posed by the bank’s imminent closure.

Sincerely,

Chiara Padovani

I contacted the MP for York South-Weston Ahmed Hussen a couple of weeks ago regarding the closure and a staff member tried to fob me off to the Ottawa office bizarrely claiming that it was not a local matter. After persisting, the staffer said he would inform the minister and call back but never did. Apparently that’s not an unusual experience.

If you would like to add your voice to the initiative, contact the FCAC at 1-866-461-3222 and mention file number 363484.

Mati’s Coffee official opening

Konjet Tadewsa and her son receive a City of Toronto congratulatory diploma from Business Improvement Association Chair Masum Hossain on Saturday May, 26. Husband, Derrge and other family members were on hand to lend support.

Mati’s Coffee is the latest addition to Weston’s ‘Main Street’ and is situated at 1947 Weston Road; just north of John Street on the west east side. Originally from Ethiopia (the home of all coffee), owners Konjet and Derrge Tadewsa are a true Canadian success story. Konjet worked at Tim Hortons for many years learning the ins and outs of customer service. She and husband Derrge (who did the renovations) are now taking the plunge with this new Weston business.

Aside from coffee and other beverages, Mati’s serves a wide selection of food, from home baked muffins to donuts, delicious cake slices and meat patties.

The official opening was held on Saturday, showcasing the beautiful renovation that has transformed the site of the old Weston Bun Bakery. In attendance were some familiar faces from Weston including Masum Hossain, Marion O’Sullivan and Debbie Gibson from the BIA and Suri Weinberg-Linsky from Squibb’s bookstore across the road.

Let’s give a warm Weston Welcome to Mati‘s Coffee and make a point of supporting this new business. Did I mention they have free wifi?

What about gentrification?

From The Economist.
Gentrification holds both a promise and a threat, depending on who you talk to.

The gentrification of an area, once under way, seems to be an inevitable and unstoppable process once wealthier people move in. This causes rising prices that drive a significant number of people away – perhaps some of the area’s more vibrant members. At least that’s the theory pushed by the left. On the other hand, gentrification proponents say that non-gentrified communities miss out on cleaner, better surroundings with people stuck in poverty while crime levels rise.

Gentrification is hard to study. If someone moves away, how do we know that gentrification is the cause? All neighbourhoods have a ‘churn’ with people arriving and leaving for various reasons. We do know that change comes slowly to neighbourhoods.
Toronto’s downtown area is expanding and gentrification of adjacent areas has followed. Forty years ago, the Junction was an artistic haven with cheap rents and property because of  its grimy industry and toxic residues in the soil. It’s been cleaned up since and is a now hot area. Bloor West Village the same. Mount Dennis with its vibrant residents’ association, new Crosstown Station and Net Zero initiative may be next.
Once gentrification starts in an area, more people want to live there and demand drives up prices. Is there a danger of this in Weston / Mount Dennis? A review of the literature on gentrification found that,
New fixed-rail transit has a generally positive effect on both residential and commercial property values, but its impact varies substantially according to context.
There are signs of greater investment since the UP Express became an affordable commuter train.  How then, can we keep people from being forced out as prices rise?
There is a fair amount of subsidized housing in our area. This is unlikely to change. In addition there are affordable rental apartments. Elsewhere, rent control keeps accommodation costs down but may stifle new housing.
 In a study of Philadelphia neighbourhoods, Richard Florida found that there are benefits to gentrification that are enjoyed by all but the poor and vulnerable. He also found that there are fairly unstoppable market forces behind gentrification when it occurs and the secret to minimizing damage is to ensure that the most vulnerable are still able to access housing and work opportunities and that their micro neighbourhoods are well maintained.
If the secret is to have a variety of housing and work options, it doesn’t help to have penny pinching councillors (as we do out in the boonies) who make it their business to keep taxes down and starve initiatives that help poor people.
Here’s an example. The expansion of Woodbine Racetrack was recently under discussion at council. More gambling will bring problems to the community. A motion was put forward to ameliorate the negative effects by requiring that the new gambling facility install a daycare for employees and also hire a percentage of local residents. Here are two motions put forward:
1. OGGLP provide a maximum of $5 million to develop and equip a child care centre on site or within the vicinity land and work with the Children’s Services division in recruiting a not for profit operator for the site and request that the selected operator provide extended hours of operation and provide casino employees with priority access to the centre.
The motion carried but local councillor Mike Ford voted against it.

3 – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Joe Mihevc (Lost)

That City Council amend the Community Benefits Agreement with the Ontario Gaming Greater Toronto Area Limited Partnership set out in Attachment 1, as amended, in accordance with the following:

a. amendments to the employment and hiring terms to provide that:

i. OGGLP will hire a minimum of 50 percent new hires through social or local hiring, of which at least half must be local hiring; and

ii. after two years of operation, at least 60 percent of employees shall have full-time employment;

This motion lost narrowly by 19 to 23. Guess who voted against that? Local Councillors Mike Ford,  Vincent Crisanti, and yes, our own Frances Nunziata.
It’s voting like this that does not help vulnerable residents.
Here’s another example; living in a rooming house is probably quite cheap but the city fights rooming houses and accommodations that don’t fit into the middle class mindset e.g. the alleged illegal dwellings above the Weston Station restaurant.  Surely there is a way for these accommodations to be cleaned up, made safe and licensed – especially when housing is in such short supply.
If we had affordable housing spread evenly throughout the city, gentrification would not be an issue. The city did help recently with a ban on Airbnb basement apartments but unless some brave city or provincial politicians enact legislation to insert affordable housing in every area of the city, we’re going to be stuck with the present model of an expanding gentrified zone spreading out from the core and no amount of protests and marches will stop that.
The left needs to get its act together and figure out a way to embrace the positive benefits of gentrification without allowing it to drive people out of the area. They haven’t done that yet. The right needs to understand that cutting services to the poor simply entrenches poverty and the consequential crime that comes when people have no route to prosperity.
Finally, a well managed community has room for everyone regardless of income or personal circumstance. The mark of a good society (and good people) is how well it takes care of its most vulnerable.

Pot shop pops up

Weston’s least favourite store is back in business. California Cannabis has reopened, and has promised to donate a portion of its proceeds to Black Lives Matter–a move frustrating to those who see it as a donation to an anti-police group.

The CBC has a quite funny article  with an interview of Grey, um, Greenwell, an employee. He said he didn’t know much about the donations, and said

“I think it’s more of like a front for everybody that thinks we’re bad. You know, it’s like, ‘Oh, potheads go there,’ or ‘If you smoke weed, you’re like evil,'” he said.

“It’s kind of like to show we’re not, you know, like horrible people. We’re not criminals.

Right.

Grey Greenwell, photo by the CBC

The police have already promised to raid the illegal dispensary again–the fifth time it will have been shut down. Frances Nunziata says “The investigation will remain open until the store has been permanently closed.”

Sneak peek inside Mati’s Coffee

Mati’s Coffee will be opening at the old address of Weston Bun Bakery at 1947 Weston Road. Yesterday as I was passing, workers were installing a new window and a clear view of the interior was visible.

The worker at the front wasn’t too happy at my presence but the interior looks quite spacious with a grey tiled floor, brick accent wall, some comfortable furniture visible at the front and standard tables and chairs towards the rear.

Still no web presence. Let’s hope for a quick opening.

Weston New-Music School open house Saturday.

Local musician, 27-year-old Juan Paulo Cunanan, better known as Japs Cunanan is opening a music school. Originally from the Philippines, Japs is a talented musician with a degree in music education. His music school will teach students a variety of instruments at any age and any level.

He will be hosting an open house at Victory Assembly Church at 2125 Weston Road on Saturday at 12:30pm. Snacks and soft drinks will be provided. Here’s his invitation:

Japs Cunanan

 DIRECTOR, Weston New-Music School

My name is Japs Cunanan, I’m a musician, producer, composer, arranger and I have a degree in Music Education. Now I am starting a Music school that caters to young and adult alike for a minimal cost in the Weston community because I believe in the power of music. It’s so powerful that it can make you happy, or sad; angry or calm. It can even mend a broken heart. Most of all, It is the only universal language we have; because it speaks to our emotion. You may come from any country, age or orientation, but I’m sure that you know music when you hear it, because it’s already inside you. Now we are here to help you tap into it.

Let us help you and your young ones discover the music within. Our goal in Weston New-Music School is not only to help you understand music, but bring out your own creativity. It doesn’t matter the age; long as you can understand and accept instruction, we know you’ll be able to harness that unique style that you already have. It’s never too late to learn music.

As the world becomes more saturated with technology, skill and competence dry out. Let us bring back the insight and intricacy in the music of tomorrow by letting our kids learn it today.

Give us a call at 416-804-9942 and take advantage of this unique opportunity to enroll and we will teach you how to harness the power that is the music inside you and your children.

WESTON NEW-MUSIC SCHOOL

2125 Weston Road Toronto, ON.  416-804-9942

Open House: Saturday April 7, 12:30 pm