‘The Hub’ nearing completion

The paint is drying on a new community centre in Weston.

The long-empty Food Basics at 1541 Jane, near Trethewey, will soon be home to “The Hub”, a satellite office of York Community Services (YCS).

YCS provides “primary health care, legal services, counseling, case management, housing assistance, and community support”. YCS is partnering with five other charitable groups in the 20,000 square foot facility. Together, they will also give counselling, help with parenting and employment, and settlement services. There will also be a community kitchen and available meeting rooms.

The facility was to have opened as long ago as 2008, but final preparations now appear to be coming together.

According to Alan Tonks, YCS is looking for community members to sit on its advisory panel.

Weston community groups denied grants for AIDS projects

Two Weston community groups failed to get grants at the last City Council meeting. The grants would have run programs to slow the spread of AIDS and HIV among immigrants and addicts. Both applications were rejected by Council on the advice of the Board of Health.

Northwood Neighbourhood Centre applied for a grant of $29,ooo to provide HIV/AIDS awareness to newcomer parents. This application was rejected. The blow was likely worsened by the rejection of its other application for $31,000 to run a drug prevention program. It too was turned down.

The Weston King Neighbourhood Centre applied for a $83,000 grant to run a HIV/AIDS Harm Reduction Project. That grant was also denied.

Tn all, the city approved 41 of the 52 applications it received for AIDS/HIV projects. In total, it granted $1,574,960.

While more than 80% of the projects received city money, none of the projects from Ward 11 did.

Microloan program at UrbanArts

UrbanArts has started a new microloan program for youths. It plans to give $5000 loans to arts entrepreneurs from 18–24 to help them start their own businesses.

Microloans are the newest trend in economic development. The idea is to give loans to people who would not normally be eligible, in amounts that would not normally be profitable for lenders. The theory is that small entrepreneurs can put their knowledge of a community to use where outsiders couldn’t.

Lennox Cadore, the Arts Program Manager at UrbanArts, says that they are “creating opportunities for young people who want to start their own businesses. Artists really are entrepreneurs.”

There are 15 positions available in the business program. Upon graduation, the students will be eligible for the $5000 loans. The money comes from Alterna Savings and the City of Toronto.

According to the Toronto Star, the loans will be at prime plus 6%. If the loans are repaid on time, the 6% will be refunded. The loans must be repaid in three years.

Cadore says that he has already received some applications, and he expects many more.

A few spaces still available at UrbanArts camps

So you forgot to register your kids for summer camp. Big deal. Sloth is not a sin.

Oh wait.

Happily, UrbanArts still has a few spots available in their day camps.

Between July 26 and August 6, kids from 8–14 can attend the Community Arts Experience camp. Lennox Cadore, the program manager, says that the first week of the camp will be devoted to environmental leadership. “We’re integrating the environment with the arts”.

From August 9 to August 20, UrbanArts will be running a visual arts camp called the “Legacy Arts Explore Camp”. They will have field trips and fun daily workshops led by professionals and emerging artists.

All the programs are free; the money has come from the United Way, the City of Toronto, and an anonymous private donor.

Cadore says that UrbanArts is running the programs for free “to provide an opportunity for young people in the area. We’re creating an opportunity too for parents to leave their kids in a highly-supervised environment.”

He says the program is “open to everybody. We get a real mix of backgrounds. We have people from both sides of Weston’s tracks.”

You can register for the programs by contacting UrbanArts at (416) 241-5124.

UrbanArts to fight graffiti this summer

UrbanArts received more than $23,000 [1] from the city of Toronto to run a graffiti cleanup and mural painting program this summer.

urbanartsThe city has been funding graffiti and tag-removal projects since 1996; last year, 100 young people were employed by the Graffiti Transformation program. According to the city, the program targets “marginalized youth who face multiple barriers to employment.” The young people are trained in materials and workplace safety and, according to the city, for many the graffiti transformation project “is their first paid work experience”.

There are two benefits to the program. First, the murals discourage vandals and taggers. The programs also integrate the mural artists into their communities by giving them something they, and the community, can be proud of. They give the artists a stake in their neighbourhood.

Last year, UrbanArts painted two murals and received $22,950 in funding.This year they applied for a 26% increase, but the city turned it down and granted only a 2% increase.

UrbanArts was a little fortunate, however; many communities are interested in the graffiti removal program, but there was no money to expand it this year.

Image from UrbanArts
Image from UrbanArts

[1] Whoops. I thought the Community Development and Recreation Committee had the authority to grant this money. City Council will be voting on the issue today and tomorrow.