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.

City to 1821 Weston developer: Try again.

The subject properties at 1821 – 1831 Weston Road. From Google. Click to enlarge.

The City has responded to a 36 storey proposal for developing this pair of properties on Weston Road just south of the UP Express station.

The consolidated property consists of a former movie theatre (Biltmore Odeon) now used as a place of worship (Bethel Apostolic Church) and a two-storey mixed use building.

The site and proposed development from the Toronto Planning document.

The developer is BSäR Group of Companies with a mostly positive reputation with this exception where in 2017, BSäR pleaded guilty to four counts of recovering possession of a rental unit unlawfully and was fined $14,000. Like many developers, BSäR has a minimal web presence. Established in 2007, its Principal is Tarek Sobhi and its President is Tyler Hershberg. The architects are Turner Fleischer.

Spoiler alert – BSäR wants to erect something too large for the site and build closer to the tracks and neighbouring properties than Metrolinx and the City would like.

Some lowlights highlights of the proposed building:

36 storeys
6-storey podium
454 apartments
261 resident parking spaces
29 visitor parking spaces
5 retail parking spaces
463 bicycle parking spaces.

Spaces:
10,000 square feet (approx) of communal indoor space spread over 3 floors
10,000 square feet (approx) of communal outdoor space on the podium roof.
At grade retail on the first floor.

Apartments:
74% 1 bedroom or bachelor
16% two bedrooms
10% three bedrooms

City Planning Staff Concerns:

  • Maximum allowed floor plate for tall buildings is 750 square metres; developer wants 820 square metres.
  • Minimum allowed setback from property lines is 12.5 metres; developer wants to shrink to 10 and 7.5 metres.
  • There will be strong shadow impacts on the UP Express station plaza.
  • The development may limit the potential of future development on adjacent land.
  • Rooftop communal area would be subject to uncomfortable and unsafe wind levels.
  • There should be fewer bachelor and one bedroom apartments and more two and three-bedrooms.

Section 37 money.
(Section 37 money is a ‘fine’ paid by developers in exchange for crappy architecture or overbuilding on a site.) Here’s where the City thinks the money should go:

  • Affordable housing or the securing of purpose-built rental housing at mid-range or affordable rent level categories.
  • An on-site day care facility or funding for one.
  • A contribution towards the revitalization of Weston Library.
  • A contribution towards the replacement of the Falstaff Community Recreation Centre (not even close to Weston).
  • Improvements towards local parks.

Other concerns from the City:

  • Planners haven’t been told if the BSäR Group are building rentals or condos. They would like a range of affordable rentals / ownership units.
  • Is the old Biltmore Odeon Theatre worthy of a heritage designation? Planners intend to find out.
  • Dog relief stations will be needed to ease pressure on local parks.

Bottom Line:
Staff have told the developer to revise the proposal so that it is more in keeping with the City’s guidelines.

At the moment, City staff are sending notices about this development only to people living within 400 feet of the site. If you would like to comment or to be added to the mailing list, contact City Planner Rory McNeil at: (416) 394-5683 or,
[email protected]

Large crowd at WPBC development meeting.

The consolidated property. Adapted from Google Maps. Click to enlarge.

About two hundred people attended a veritable love-fest at Weston Park Baptist Church on Monday evening. The long anticipated meeting was arranged to get some feedback on the development of the iconic property that includes the old Scotiabank ‘wedge’ building, the church itself and its substantial parking lot next to the UP Express station.

Steve Rowley leads the meeting on behalf of the church. Click to enlarge.

The meeting started with a history of WPBC and its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century. WPBC stresses that it has chosen to stay in Weston during all these years and has helped the community during that time by setting up community support organizations such as the W.A.E.S. food bank and Frontlines youth centre to name but two. Watching the presentation of the church’s history gave me an impression of some compassionate yet canny real-estate horse traders with the long game in mind. To that end they did a considerable amount of homework before deciding on the developer, Castlepoint Numa – represented at the meeting by President Alfredo Romano and several staff from the company. Mr. Romano’s passion for the project came through loud and clear and it was apparent that this will be something special.

 

Some interesting information came to light during the presentation; in 2005, the church pitched purchasing and sharing the current UP Express station site (at the time a Chrysler dealership that was up for sale) to GO Transit, the predecessor of Metrolinx. GO turned them down but before a deal could be made with Chrysler, GO came back to the table and partnered with WPBC leading to the current property setup. Plans have been worked on for some time to develop the site and now the church is asking the community for input.

The point of the meeting was threefold: to introduce the community to the church and developer Castlepoint Numa (with whom they recently signed a memorandum of agreement) and lastly to get some ideas from local residents.

A few ideas were also proposed by the church, one of which was to extend an invitation to the YMCA to operate out of the new development. This has been an idea for many years now.

Some of the ideas for Weston from the charette held in 2011. File. Click to enlarge.
File. Click to enlarge.
File. Click to enlarge.

Developer Romano expressed his wish that there be a retention in some form of the two iconic buildings on the site.

Residents at the meeting were asked to ‘vote’ for their preferred options using supplied red dots.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The church has promised many more consultations before anything is decided.

Community Service Opportunity

The people at Toronto Bell Cote Heritage Preservation are holding an open house and orientation session on Sunday November 24 between 1 and 3pm. The purpose is to encourage high school students to learn about and participate in volunteer opportunities with the charity that looks after this important landmark in our neighbourhood. All Ontario high school students are required to volunteer 40 hours to a community organization in order to graduate.

Incidentally, this building is one of the few in the area using geothermal heating and cooling throughout the year.

For more details, contact Subhas Mukhopadkyay at [email protected]

Hurricane Hazel remembered September 29th.

The Toronto Bell Cote will be hosting a remembrance of Hurricane Hazel’s impact on Toronto some 65 years ago. Readers may remember that the building was known as St Matthias Anglican Church in 1954 and served as an operations centre during the rescue and relief efforts following the event.

“A small, white frame church (provided) non-stop service of mercy … St. Matthias Anglican, capacity 88 churchgoers — and the parson, Reverend Paul Glover, 24, wearing mud-stained jeans and jacket — administered to the urgent needs of the flood-devastated area of the Westmount flats.”  The pews were piled high with clothing, blankets, food and other life necessities brought by neighbouring families, and the church was billed as “a haven for the homeless”. 

In the light of climate change and increasingly damaging hurricanes, guest speakers will discuss the likelihood of whether a similarly catastrophic event could affect our community and how we can be prepared. After the discussions, participants are invited to visit the commemorative plaque in Raymore Park.

Here is their flyer advertising the event.


Toronto Bell Cote Neighbourhood Bazaar this Sunday

The heritage preservation people at Toronto Bell Cote at 691 Scarlett Road are holding a fundraising bazaar on Sunday August 25 between 1 and 3pm. Funds raised will go to support local artisans and the maintenance of the former St Matthias church.

It’s never too late or too early to stock up!  Please come to the Toronto Bell Cote Heritage Preservation’s Neighbourhood Bazaar. Flowers, baked goods, handicrafts, paintings will be on sale to support local artisans and an award-winning Heritage Building.”