Shakespeare In Action is now Weston based.

Shakespeare in Action is a community group dedicated to making the works of William Shakespeare accessible to young people.  Yesterday, SIA announced that after 30 years as an itinerant company, they now have a home in Weston at the new Artscape Weston Common. They have also acquired office space at the Central United Church just a short walk away.

Read more in the Star here.

Upcoming events

UrbanArts has a lot coming up.

I’m particularly excited about the opening of Weston Road Flows, a

multimedia exhibition that explores the past, present, and future of the (former )[ed.] Village of Weston by reinterpreting the past through a modern context. For over 100 years, the current of Weston Road has been the center of the community. This project will honour and reflect upon the spirit of Weston through historical recordings, resident stories, vocal shout-outs, spoken word, and on-site sounds captured with modern beats.

The exhibition runs from the 14th to the 29th of March at 5 Bartonville.


On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, UrbanArts will also be taking part in
the second-annual I Heart Neighbourhood Charity Auction

This unique collaborative fundraising will help UrbanArts to raise much-needed funds to support vital programs and services.  Attendees will enjoy an elegant evening mixing delicious fare and beverages with both a silent and live auction, live entertainment, and the opportunity to learn about the work of five local charities.


 

Fire update

Tan Ya Collins of the Black Creek Alliance posted an update on the extended family whose home was destroyed in the fire at 43 Lambton Avenue. While there has been progress–and more than $10,000 has been raised–the families are “frantically looking for another home to rent or 2 apartments ideally in the same building..”

Collins is asking the community for leads. She says “This family is very loving and fighting hard to give their kids a good future. They are very appreciative of all the support the community has given them.”

If you happen to know someone with a place to rent in the range of $2100 a month, Collins would be grateful to hear from you.

Skating is ON in Pearen Park

I wouldn’t go tonight, but the Pearen Park skating rink is now open.

Every year, volunteers zamboni the ice and manage free skates for anyone who drops by. They even offer lessons to new skaters.

It’s all gratis (though donations are welcome). It’s a beautiful, community-organized, ground (ice?)-up endeavour.

The good people at the MDCA can always use a helping hand, and they’re looking for volunteers to help with staffing the skate hut, flood the ice, and offer lessons.

 

Fundraising tops $10,000 for fire-displaced family

Community members have donated more than $10,000 to support the family displaced by a house fire at 43 Lambton Avenue.

From Erin Ronningen

14 people in one extended family, including 8 children and 6 adults, were the victims of a fire that left them with virtually nothing. The Black Creek Alliance started the fundraising effort five days ago to raise money that would help them with “a new place to rent and get themselves organized and back on their feet.”

As of this morning, the community had donated $10,150 to the family, surpassing the $10,000 goal. Donations are still warmly welcomed.

 

Reading, STEM clubs

Frontlines and the Weston Library have started some neat new programs.

The library has started a book club for kids.

The library also has a club for those of us a little too old to be wimpy kids.

And, finally, Frontlines is starting a STEM program for kids, which willrun on the third Thursday of every month. The workshops are organized with STEMHub.

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.