Drama in the park

Shakespeare in Action has announced that Alphonse, by Wajdi Mouawad, will be coming to Little Avenue Memorial Park later this summer. Among many other rave reviews, the play was called a “lovely piece of writing” and “a runaway theatrical success by the Globe and Mail.

SIA says it’s a story of “Alphonse [who] is lost and walking along a country road, weaving an intricate web of stories, while everyone is searching for him: parents, friends, teachers, the police. What they find is the thing we often give up in order to grow up.

They also say it is Toronto’s “first outdoor theatrical production of the new COVID-19 era”.  All the safety protocols will be followed.

The play will run August 20 to August 23, starting at 7 pm. It’s general admission, but tickets ($0–$50) are being sold in advance.

Promotional photo
Photo by SIA

Farmers Market Opens for 2020

The 2020 Weston Farmers Market season got under way today in beautiful weather. As is normal for such season openers (usually in May), attendance seemed sparse and there was an added inconvenience for patrons to wait patiently until they were admitted into the market space.  The market, second oldest in the city, is in almost exactly the same place it occupied five years ago although narrower and today had fewer stalls.

For years, traders have insisted that the specially designed market area at the end of John Street was too small and wouldn’t withstand the weight of delivery vehicles. The B.I.A. saved the day with the solution to use the Toronto Parking Authority lot on the other side of the building.

For the last few years the market has used the highly visible UP Express and Weston Baptist Church parking lots. That option is off the table. Unfortunately, the location at the end of John Street is invisible to traffic passing along Weston Road and so it will be a challenge to lure fresh customers to the site. In addition, former anchor tenant and actual farmer, Joe Gaeta has moved elsewhere.

The entrance to the market on John street featuring new signs.

Patrons wait in line to be admitted.

The market cordoned off to allow for physical distancing.

Looking towards John Street, a panorama of the farmers market in almost the same location back in August 2015. Click to enlarge.

The much vaunted and intended home of the farmers market sits empty.

Because the market now occupies the parking spaces intended for use by people visiting the er, market, John Street was in effect one-way thanks to parked vehicles occupying the inbound lane. As patron numbers increase, parking will become a greater issue. Let’s hope that some of the kinks can be worked out quickly. Incidentally, Grandpa Ken’s was there today.

Extra credit: How the Weston Hub was financed here.

No; look over here.

There’s a couple of news items that have surfaced lately. One is a notorious chair throwing incident and another is a Metrolinx promise to a community.

Which is garnering the most attention?

Which is of greater consequence?

In February 2019, aspiring media celebrity Marcella Zoia, a teenager at the time, threw a folding chair from a downtown high rise. For some reason, the video of the incident was posted to social media and all hell broke loose. The press has given huge amounts of attention to the feckless Ms. Zoia’s case, hounding her during several court appearances where she eventually coughed up a guilty plea. After her sentencing (a hefty fine and community service), hanging judge John Tory has chimed in to  to say that Ms. Zoia (AKA Chair Girl) should have gone to jail. Apparently the mayor believes that without the deterrence of a jail term, others will be inspired to fling furniture from tall buildings – where will it all end? Mayor Tory had no hesitation in criticizing the work of Justice Mara Greene who wisely ignored the Crown’s recommendation of a 6-month jail term. Let’s not get into the purposes of jail but suffice to say that it should be reserved for violent offenders rather than idiotic teens. This isn’t Georgia or Alabama.

Let’s take a moment to be grateful that the mayor is in a position where he is relatively inconsequential and move on to another news item.

In this story, Councillor Anthony Peruzza is complaining that Metrolinx is breaking a promise to donate a chunk of land in the Finch Avenue West and Yorkgate Boulevard area for the purpose of building a community hub. Here, you’ll not find hordes of reporters breathlessly pursuing Metrolinx executives for an answer. Lazy members of the press and Mayor Tory find items like this tedious. There are no dramatic foot chases no videos and no public outrage. Metrolinx spokesperson Anne-Marie Aikins says that Metrolinx cannot donate land to the City but indicated that there’s lots of time. to work something out. Translation: there’s time for the public to lose interest and for the story to be buried.

Sadly, that sums up the news cycle these days. Councillor Peruzza represents one of the poorest wards in the city and instead of government agencies joining forces to build up an impoverished community, they conspire to work against it. The press largely doesn’t care.

This is reminiscent of the Toronto Parking Authority sale of the 16 John Street parking lot in Weston, a piece of land that once belonged to the old town of Weston (in another one of the poorest wards in the city) and which could have formed the heart of a stand-alone Weston Hub. It wasn’t to be. People were seduced by the promise of a glitzy new home for the Weston Farmers Market along with community space and live/work artist accommodations. Council was swayed by the next-to-zero cost and the only downside was to be a 30-storey tower and podium, something not envisioned by Toronto’s 2011 feasibility study.

The original spacious home of the Weston Farmers Market. (From Google Earth)

The intended home of the Weston Farmers Market. File.

When the Weston Farmers Market opens a week on Saturday (August 1), it won’t be convening in the space that was a big part of the selling job.

One of the concept drawings of the farmers market.

Apparently traders don’t want to use it because it’s too small and their trucks (which they need close by) would damage the paving.

The new home of the Weston Farmers Market (Google Earth).

No, the market’s going back to almost the exact location where it began on John Street. The ample parking promised for the farmers market turns out to be the new market space itself. The space is larger than the fancy concept one and the paving can withstand trucks. If instead of selling the parking lot, the Toronto Parking Authority (a branch of city council) had donated the land to the community, things could have turned out differently. Sadly the press was focussed on other things and the public was seduced by fancy drawings. That’s the nature of news these days.

Maybe we can invite Marcella Zoia to cut the ribbon on August 1st.

Shakespeare In Action is hiring

Speaking of job opportunities, Shakespeare In Action is hiring workers in the arts sector.

UrbanArts virtual show this Thursday

UrbanArts and Artscape Weston Common have been hosting “Run It Black” for the past few weeks, and this Thursday will be their third (of six) live showcases.

You can tune in at 6:00 on Facebook Live to see Mighloe, a Toronto R&B artist perform.

UrbanArts says the series came about to respond to current events:

 In response to anti-Black racism, Artscape Weston Common, in partnership with programming partner, UrbanArts, and non-profit organization, MANIFESTO, has launched the ‘Run It Black’ live showcase series to amplify voices of young black artists, celebrate the rich diverse culture in Weston and Greater Toronto Area, and provide paid and safe performance opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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?