Clean Train Coalition To Apply More Pressure

Are you dreading a steep increase in the number of diesel trains rolling through Weston when the Airport link is completed? The Clean Train Coalition would like to see electric locomotives instead and is holding an ambitious music festival on Sunday, September 26 in Sorauren Park (just south of Dundas on Sorauren Avenue).

The festival kicks off at 1:00 p.m. and will feature a charity barbecue, music and family activities. Keynote speakers will take to the stage at 3:00 p.m. For more information see the Clean Train Coalition website here.

Rally to be held at King and Elm to support Olympic Variety

The Weston Village Residents’ Association is organizing a night out at the corner of King St and Elm this Monday. The gathering is to “show support for Helen and John [the proprietors of Olympic Variety], to send out good vibes and to let the community know that we will not stand for our neighbourhood being bullied in any way.”

That intersection has had a fair bit of drama over the past few weeks. Olympic Variety was robbed last week, and there was a shooting the week before. Helen, a proprietor of Olympic Variety, was hurt in the robbery.

The gathering will start at 7:30.

Weston to get a media centre

Weston is one step closer to having a digital arts and computer skills centre. The centre will let youth explore “digital arts (animation, web design, digital photography, audio and video editing) and Microsoft curricula”.

In the last City Council meeting, UrbanArts, a neighbourhood arts and development organization, was given a green light to top-up the finding for the  “Pro Tech Media Centre and Youth Arts Hub”. The city was responsible for the bulk of the funding, but the program required that partners make contributions. Microsoft contributed $1 million citywide for the ProTech projects; UrbanArts contributed $95,000.

There are several ProTech Media Centres elsewhere in Toronto. Rexdale, Malvern, and the Eglintion East-Kennedy Park neighbourhoods have them already; the Weston-Mount Dennis centre is the last of the planned locations. The city says that the centres will “introduce youth to potential careers in new media while providing computer literacy skills and creating opportunities for self-expression.”

The first phase of construction will begin this fall.

UrbanArts holds Culture Shock festival

UrbanArts held its 6th annual Culture Shock festival today. Poets, visual artists, musicians, and dancers entertained audiences all through the afternoon and into the evening.

Artists performed in several places around the high school. Highlights included a fashion show, the York Lions Steel Drum band, and performances by local dance groups.

UrbanArts is a youth arts organization on John St in Weston. It is one of four ‘local arts services organzations’ in Toronto; LASOs work in priority neighbourhoods to make “the arts, in all its diverse forms, broadly accessible and affordable.” As well as preparing for the Culture Shock festival, this summer UrbanArts has been hosting camps and running a graffiti prevention project.

The Hub will open in September

Weston’s new ‘hub’ will open in September, according to Matt Brubacher, the Community Engagement Coordinator.

The hub will be a place where the community can find help with employment, women’s and youth issues, parenting, and health care. It will be in the old Food Basics on Jane St, and has been planned since at least 2008. York Community Services, the agency behind it, had said that the centre would open in June of this year.

Brubacher says that the hub is opening in Weston because it is one of 13 ‘priority neighbourhoods’ identified by the United Way. The United Way has plans to open eight hubs in total; the first one opened in January in Scarborough. When it is completed, Weston’s hub will be only the second or third.

Brubacher said that the priority areas generally have “higher levels of poverty, lower levels of service, and safety issues as well. Hubs are one thing that they’re doing to support the neighbourhoods”. The United Way says that these priority neighbourhood are in the inner suburbs, and are characterized  growing levels of poverty, few services, growing numbers of youth, and an increasing need for newcomer services.

Brubacher said that  they’ll be having events and “holding monthly gatherings to start talking about what [the community] would like to see happening at the Hub and once we’ve been open for a little bit, we’ll have a big opening celebration as well.”

‘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.