GO Transit responds

The Weston Community Coalition says GO Transit wants to expropriate six homes in Weston to make space for the Georgetown corridor. Metrolinx would beg to differ. Sort of.

According to Manuel Pedrosa, Community Relations Manager, GO Transit is “not planning to raze any homes. [But] we’ve concluded that one of the best options is to purchase the property during the three to four years that we’ll be building the Weston tunnel.” When asked what GO would do if the homeowners didn’t want to sell, Pedrosa said that they would have to cross that bridge when they got to it. Like other large government agencies, Metrolinx does have the right to expropriate, however.

Pedrosa says that the negotiations with homeowners are at an early stage: “We’re looking at a dialogue with the owners to see what their perspective is. Our first step is to contact them. We’ve been going door to door and calling them to explain what the impacts are.”

The impacts could be severe. Some of the properties are only a few feet away from the construction and might be severely affected, he says. “A couple of properties are only two feet away. So there will be potential damage.”

Pedrosa said that he is “not at liberty to reveal how many homes we have contacted. This a private dialogue between the impacted property owner and Metrolinx.” When I pressed him and made the point that telling the community the number of homes without identifying which ones in no way compromises the privacy of the homeowners, he stuck to his guns.

The meeting tomorrow night will not be focused on the property issues, although GO is willing to discuss it. Instead, GO will discuss the tunnel design, its look and feel, and how it integrates into Weston.

Metrolinx now wants to expropriate homes

Metrolinx is now planning to expropriate at least six homes in Weston to make way for the Georgetown line expansion, according to Mike Sullivan, the chair of the Weston Community Coalition and a longtime Weston advocate.

Metrolinx had planned a public meeting this week to discuss the design of the cut-and-cover tunnel that will be put through Weston. The meeting announcement does not mention that they are now planning to expropriate houses, although this is surely the most salient aspect of the design. Further, according to Sullivan, Metrolinx has said in the past that no expropriations would be necessary.

The homes that will be destroyed are between Church and King streets, on both sides of the tracks. They are on King, Church, and Fern.

The meeting will be at Weston Park Baptist Church at 1871 Weston Road on Thursday, October 28, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Everyone is welcome.

Weston needs elves

The Weston BIA is looking for volunteers to help with the 31st annual Weston Santa Claus parade.

Santa’s visit is an enormous affair. More than 50 floats take over the downtown for several hours.

The parade needs volunteers to wear costumes, act as marshalls, and carry banners.

High-school students can use the volunteer hours toward their OSSD requirements.

GO seeking input on John St bridge

As part of the Georgetown track expansion, GO is closing the crossing at John St and building a pedestrian bridge. They are now seeking volunteers to help design that bridge as part of their community outreach.

According to an announcement this week, a committee of community members will select three bridges from a group of design submissions. Those three candidates will then be voted upon by the broader Weston community.

GO is seeking people who: “are members of the Weston community”, “have some knowledge of urban design, architecture, or urban planning”, and who are available for meetings through the winter.

Interested applicants are asked to submit an essay of 500 words.

Rob Ford will likely cut funding to Weston

On Thursday night, Rob Ford, the mayoral front-runner, said that he “hasn’t seen the benefits” of money sent to Toronto’s 13 priority neighbourhoods. Weston–Mt. Dennis is one of those neighbourhoods.

In a debate with the other mayoral candidates, Ford said “I haven’t seen the benefits from these initiatives. As you know, I coach football in a priority neighbourhood and I haven’t seen the benefits. I wouldn’t commit to anything… If we aren’t seeing results…. I can’t sit here and say I’m going to keep throwing money away at an issue that’s not getting results.”  According to The Star, he said “that as he has not yet seen any proof the initiative is working, he has trouble committing millions of city dollars to the program.”

Outgoing mayor David Miller says that scrapping the investments would be a “tragedy”. He says “the mayoral candidates should be competing to say how much more money they’ll put in. That’s how important it is”. He watched the debate with “incredible frustration and distress because what I see is candidates who want to tear this city down”.

The priority neighbourhood plan was started in 2005, and Weston–Mt Dennis was added to the list in 2006. The idea is to strengthen the most vulnerable neighbourhoods in Toronto by improving their community groups and social infrastructure , things like parks and play areas. The Jane St Hub, which will open next week, came to Weston as part of the initiative.

Joe Pantolone said “‘I would extend it, and I would expand it. The 13 neighbourhoods project has been very successful.”

George Smitherman extolled the community health centres he helped start as Health Minister and criticized the instability of funding to the neighbourhoods. He said, though, that funding shouldn’t be restricted to the 13 neighbourhoods:  “I support priority neighbourhoods…. But I’m interested in priority people. I think you have to sustain those funds for priority neighbourhoods. But don’t stop there… It’s not good enough to tell those young people that are struggling to find community space [in other areas] that because they’re not on the list, they don’t matter”.

Rocco Rossi criticized Ford to loud applause and said “the programs are working and need to be expanded.”

Jane St Hub to open on Tuesday

The new social-services hub on Jane St will open on Tuesday, October 12 after years of delays.

The Hub makes it easy for clients to access many social services in a central location. Health care, counselling, employment services, and settlement services are all available in the same place—the old Food Basics store at 1541 Jane near Trethewey. An article in today’s Globe and Mail extols the virtues of the hub philosophy: the proximity of the services creates synergies for both clients and staff. Clients are able to do ‘one-stop shopping’, and staff are better able to track and provide for their needs.

Weston got the Hub because it is one of the 13 priority neighbourhoods in Toronto. It was conceived in 2007, and had been originally (and optimistically) planned to open in 2008.

There will be an open house on Thursday, November 11 between 4 and 6 pm.