Another Consequence of Covid-19

The (now deceased) Bank of Montreal branch on Weston Road and John Street. The bank where time stood still.

According to a friend in the banking business, online banking has expanded hugely during the pandemic. People who until recently have resisted modern technology are being been forced into the digital age. Huge resources have been diverted into teaching these customers how to use internet banking over the phone and apparently once they have tried it, many have found it surprisingly easy and have indicated they will continue after Covid goes away (2022?). They have been pleased with how easy it is to move money between accounts and don’t miss waiting in line although many also regret losing contact with a human teller.

As a result of the adoption of online banking by many more people, my source tells me that bank bosses are accelerating plans to close branches earlier than they dared hope a few months ago.We’re down to a precious few branches in Weston. Let’s hope that some will remain.

Thought of the day:Did you ever imagine that one day you’d put on a mask and enter a bank?

Gaeta Farms open for planting season.

Take a trip to Grimsby and on Mud Street West in a place called Grassie (really), you will find some familiar faces. Joe Gaeta who used to sell his produce at the Weston Farmers Market has a family run nursery and farm there and is now open for business with an excellent variety of vegetables, annuals and hanging baskets. Joe wasn’t there yesterday but his wife Olga and daughter Sabrina were.

Olga and Sabrina Gaeta at their family farm in Grimsby.

If the drive to Grimsby is a bit far, you’ll (hopefully soon) find Joe and his family on Saturdays at the Humber Bay Shores Farmers Market or on Sundays at the Eglinton Way BIA Farmers Market  – 125 Burnaby Boulevard (Eglinton near Bathurst).

Note that at the moment all Toronto’s farmers markets are closed – Weston’s until July 4th at the earliest.

Gaeta Farms and Greenhouses is at 174 Mud St. West, Grimsby, Ontario L0R 1M0.

New bike shop in Weston

There’s a new little bike repair shop in Weston: Cheel’s Wheels.

Mark Cheel says “I was recently let go from my project management position due to COVID-19 and I figured, while I was on the job hunt, to get back to my roots and jump back into bicycle repair”, an industry he has more than a decade of experience in.

His prices are very fair: $30 for a tune-up, which includes a lube job, gears and brakes, wheel truing and a safety check. For $15 he’ll pick up or deliver, too.

And, because you can’t be too safe, he wipes down the bike before and after any repairs.

Call or text Mark at (416) 951-8950 if you have any questions.

More thoughts from the lockdown.

It’s hard to get our heads around this pandemic. Let’s start with the important stuff instead of (note to self) watching the gong of doom all day.

How to avoid catching Covid-19.
Knowledge is power. For starters read this excellent blog post from an epidemiologist, it’s well worth the investment of your time as well as this article by Jonathan Kay that inspired it.

Bottom line: “Any environment that is enclosed, with poor air circulation and high density of people, spells trouble.”

Wrong advice:
We were first told that face-masks were ineffective. Canadian medical officers of health are still tepid as to their protection value. Despite that, it appears that masks are very effective in containing the spread of Covid. Look at this comparison of jurisdictions and their use of masks along with testing and contact tracing.

from #Masks4all. Click to enlarge.
From #Masks4all.com
Frequent wearing of masks and better masks drives virus transmission towards zero (blue zone). From Researchgate.net.

Despite the evidence, health experts continue to twist themselves into pretzels and argue that their conflicting advice was correct each time.

Long term care homes:
The infection and death rate in profit-making homes is significantly higher than in non-profits  and it’s even lower in civic-run homes.  Legislation from an earlier P.C. government and low funding from Liberals along with decreased inspections has cost lives. Legislated staffing ratios and more frequent inspections are needed for all facilities. This is something that the Ford government doesn’t seem interested in. All Personal Support Workers – even those from agencies – should be paid well with benefits and restricted to one location only. Do we want anything less for the most vulnerable members of our society? (ambiguity intentional)

Paradox:
Isn’t it odd that many of our (now) most important workers were stiffed by Premier Ford when he blocked a minimum wage rise back in 2018. Now he’s offering some of them a temporary (4 month) $4 an hour raise, no doubt until it’s safe to ignore these essential workers once more.

B.S. O-Meter:
We’re hearing a lot more from politicians and health officials these days. The B.S. alarms should go off when any public figure says:

  • …thoughts and prayers…
  • You won’t believe…
  • We’ve made historic investments…
  • Each and every…
  • Let me be clear…
  • We’re gonna be laser focussed…
  • We’ll put an iron ring around our seniors…
  • Don’t go to your cottage to check on the plumbing…
  • …my career
  • Sentences using the first person pronoun (I).
  • No-one likes _____ more than I do…

Things that will never be the same again:

Office work:
Many office-based businesses have discovered that work can carry on from home quite efficiently with the added bonus of employees ponying up the accommodation and utility costs. Will we need as much office space in the future? Probably not. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Some friends work from home and hate the lack of social contact with colleagues along with the intrusion of work tasks into all hours of the day and night. If business can solve these issues, there will be a lot fewer commuters and less need to live in the city.

Spitting athletes:
The act of spitting can carry huge virus loads. If basketball, golf and tennis players can go a whole game without spitting or firing snot rockets, hockey and baseball players, cyclists (and everyone else) can and must.

Handshakes and hugs:
The ancient custom of bowing or the namaste hand clasp is looking better and better. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci.

From Osho News

Transportation:
TTC ridership is down 80%. Many people are fearful of travelling on any form of transit. Projections are that when numbers recover after the pandemic subsides, they will climb to less than 50% of pre-pandemic levels. This includes airplane and cruise line traffic.

We need more:

Pedestrian and park space:
We need more and it seems that Toronto is cautiously (what else) moving to improve pedestrian space so that people are able to occupy more of the road space since they are now in the majority in many parts of Toronto. How great would it be if Toronto restaurants could occupy patios outside their establishments with a minimum of red tape? Then again we live in Toronto the Careful™.

Cycling expansion:
When Toronto Council right-winger Denzil Minnan-Wong proposed to “…direct the General Manager, Transportation Services to explore the feasibility of implementing new technology including heated pavement to promote year-round cycling., our own Councillor Nunziata voted to defeat the motion. Doncha know there’s a pandemic on?

Oddly Mr. Minnan-Wong voted against his own motion. Toronto Council never fails to entertain.

Vote (Adopt Item)Apr-30-2020
Result: LostMajority Required – IE12.8 – Infrastructure and Environment Committee Recommendation 9 only
Yes: 8Brad Bradford, Joe Cressy, Paula Fletcher, Mike Layton, Jennifer McKelvie, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Kristyn Wong-Tam
No: 16Paul Ainslie, Ana Bailão, Mike Colle, Gary Crawford, John Filion, Michael Ford, Mark Grimes, Stephen Holyday, Jim Karygiannis, Cynthia Lai, Josh Matlow, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frances Nunziata (Chair), James Pasternak, Michael Thompson, John Tory
Absent: 2Shelley Carroll, Jaye Robinson

Bless the Diavolitsis family although it’s sad that we need to raise charitable donations for our hospitals.

Local Weston and Mount Dennis business needs our patronage more than ever.

Canadian inventiveness and ‘Made In Canada’ labels may become a more common sight as we realize the sense of supporting local industry.

Education:
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has got his wish of increased distance learning and almost every student in the province is taking part in a giant online / distant learning experiment. The original goal of the Ford government was to cut education costs by requiring high school students to take four online credits. After an outcry the number was reduced to two credits but the pandemic may make online learning a necessity.

Lastly, universities coining gazillions of dollars from overseas students are learning that their golden goose has been cooked by Covid-19. In early 2020, more than 600,000 foreign students made Canada their learning playground. There’s simply no point in overseas students paying top dollar for courses at U of T or McGill if they can’t have the physical student experience of skipping classes and getting shitfaced, which is after all a major point of the exercise. No doubt accommodation and other repercussions will echo across the land when the students’ $22 billion and 170,000 related jobs disappear.

We live in the sweetest little town in Toronto

All kinds of great things are happening in Weston even while we’re cooped up.

Old Mill GM has donated a car to Frontlines to help the local community organization “deliver breakfast, lunches, and groceries as well as pick up all times to serve the community”. The donation was accompanied by a COVID key-toss. Kudos!

In other wonderful news, World of Cake Decorating sent 338 cupcakes to West Park Healthcare’s frontline workers.

And finally, Frontlines is offering free online Zumba lessons every Monday from 2–3 pm. 

Have I mentioned lately that I love our big little town?

 

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.

Business Networking Group is online

If you have a small business and are looking for help getting through the COVID mess—or even just to meet new people—the M9N Business Networking Group is meeting online every other Wednesday, and they’d love to hear from you.

Photo from Brigitte Sachse

Currently, the group includes:

  • Bee Video Production– we are a full service corporate video production company. (Check this one out.)
  • Credit Coalition: A boutique, solutions-driven finance broker who provides credit writing, documentation and funding support for the commercial equipment leasing industry.
  • Paula Ruiz Psychotherapy & Counselling Services: Providing psychotherapy and counselling services in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Weston Eyecare Optical and Optometry, A full scale practice.  “Our office offers a price beat guarantee on glasses (no brand and designer brands).”
  • Jonny Reps Fitness – Offers one-on-one coaching to achieve any fitness goal.  National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Weight Loss Specialist.
  • The Shepherd Group:  “We can review all of your policies to ensure that you are properly protected with the best premium.  This includes your home, cars, business, group benefits, life insurance and even your investments.”
  • Livi Solutions provides Salesforce consulting and Project Management services to a diverse set of clients throughout Canada.
  • Zumba with Fatima Dias—now offering online Zumba dance fitness classes.
  • The Carriage House Studio: Rebeautifying antique & vintage furniture in the heart of Weston Village, Toronto and offering our spring Take & Make Kits for curbside pickup, ready to go for you and/or the kiddos!
  • Serenity Path Psychotherapy Services: Angie Gorenc is a registered Psychotherapist with a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology. “I’ve been working in the field of mental health for over 16 years, and have a private practice located right here in Weston.”
  • McDonald Estate Services Ltd. providing the following services:  preparing and filing Trustee Applications (Probate) and Professional Executor Services.
  • Katie Rodas– Independent Consultant with Arbonne International “I empower people by helping them develop and nurture their mind, body and skin to be the best versions of themselves.
  • Genevieve’s Cakery: Each cake is made from scratch and made to order with only the best ingredients, real pureed fruits and vegetables. Simply delicious!

Other members of the M9N Business Networking Group include Westonminister Dog Grooming, Joanne Acri (Recruiting), Luisa Bada (Real Estate).