An artistic takeover

Rainy afternoons in October usually call for hot chocolate and Halloween movies; however, this October 1st, the Falstaff Community centre, and Urban Arts hosted a spectacular event. For almost a year, thirty dedicated youth from the York South-Weston area gathered together to create a phenomenal mural that is now covering the outer walls of the Falstaff Community Centre, located at 50 Falstaff Avenue. October 1st, 2016, was the official unveiling.

img_8471img_8472

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the course of over eight months, thirty students from the  area worked with Adobe Photoshop, photography, silk screening, and even got trained to use a scissor lift, all to create a masterpiece that would soon become a landmark in the area.

img_8470

I was told by Shah Ashraf Mohamed, a program manager at UrbanArts (and one the people who ensured this program did so well) that “the best part of this whole project was watching the youth transform from knowing so little about art, to finding passions and loving the work they did.”

img_8481 img_8473

All the students involved began their artistic journeys differently; Italia Santoyo and Dylan Kitchener, who were both involved in the mural’s creation, found out about the program from their art and photography teachers, whereas Jerlie Thorpe, who is extremely interested in the arts, was encouraged by the girl’s group club at her school. (which is also run by UrbanArts). Despite coming from different backgrounds, all the young artists were brought together by one thing: a love and passion for art.

“I’m so grateful for UrbanArts. I love art and all the time people tell you that art is so hard to get into and you’re never going to get a job if you want to study anything in the arts. But Urban Arts helped me see that it doesn’t matter if people don’t believe in you. If art makes you happy, make art” –Italia Santoyo.

The mural is composed of visual art, photography, silk screen and Photoshop work, all comprised into the masterpiece that is now complete. Students worked with various groups including Gallery 44, a non-profit center committed to photography, who taught them skills about their passions, which they then used to create the artwork.

UrbanArts is a community group dedicated to bringing arts programs to communities in the city of Toronto. Every program run by the group involves professional artists and helps develop and engage culture into communities in need. With partners including the Ontario Arts Council, Microsoft, TELUS, UrbanArts has been making a difference in the lives of many kids since they started.

img_8487

With art being one of the most highly criticized and toughest paths anyone can take, many young people feel intimidated and scared about pursuing their passions. UrbanArts is changing that. From speaking to the young people involved, and seeing how passionate the program organizers were, I could tell that this project has made a difference. Being a creative person, I know how intimidating and worrisome perusing my passions can be. Seeing fellow creative people flourishing and doing something they are passionate about gave me hope. I am proud to say I live in a community that hosted such an amazing event, and I hope any aspiring artists that see all the amazing work that went into this project will be motivated to keep perusing their dreams.

img_8479


This post was brought to you by: Maureen Lennon, who loves Weston and great writing.

A piece of history is going

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 1.27.01 PM
The building was a backdrop to the Farmers Market opening day ceremonies in 2013.

The tiny building that was home to the Weston Farmers Market is to be demolished. The building stored essentials, housed a washroom and provided power and water to the old Farmers Market.

The application to demolish is from Kathryn Randle of 22 John Street Developments. Oddly, the building (and presumably the land where the Weston Hub will be built) still belongs to the Toronto Parking Authority. According to Council briefing notes, “transfer of the ownership is still outstanding at this time”.

Image from Artscape https://artscapeweston.ca/2016/07/07/official-groundbreaking/
Image from Artscape
https://artscapeweston.ca/2016/07/07/official-groundbreaking/

Why the transfer delay? It could be a formality or perhaps a more serious problem but does explain why the site is so quiet in spite of a cast of thousands shovelling mightily at the June 2016 groundbreaking ceremony.

Summer sights along Weston Road…

It’s the height of summer and some things are happening yet some things stay the same.

Cruickshank Ford is still open but its main building is being demolished to make way for a more updated showroom. Sales now take place in a trailer on the site and service is still in the old location for now.
Cruickshank Ford is still open for business but its main building is being demolished to make way for a more modern showroom. Sales now take place in a trailer on the site.
The temporary sales office.
Cruickshank Ford’s temporary sales office. Service is still in the old location for now.
Weston Towns are nearing completion.
Weston Towns: This development quickly sold out with prices starting at $399,000. They are being built on the former Beer Store site and some will be occupied this year. These at the rear are the most complete and will be the first to be occupied.
Later phases of the townhomes closer to Weston Road.
Weston Towns: Later phases of the townhomes closer to Weston Road. According to the builder, First Avenue Properties, the first 16 owners will be moving in on November 17 this year.
Not much is happening at the future Weston Hub apart from some rehabilitation of the parking garage that will provide the parking for residents of the 30 storey rental that will be placed on the old Farmers Market site.
Weston Hub: Not much seems to be happening at the future Weston Hub apart from some rehabilitation of the parking facility that will provide parking for residents of the 30 storey rental soon to be placed on the old Farmers Market site.
Looking over the Hub site towards John Street.
Weston Hub: Looking over the Hub site towards John Street.
The beautiful flower display by Weston's war memorial contrasts nicely with James Gove's stonework.
Little Avenue: The beautiful flower display along Little Avenue by Weston’s Cenotaph contrasts nicely with James Gove’s famous stonework.

The blue jays and the lions

Fresh buttery popcorn, steamy hotdogs, and an amazing game; that’s what baseball is all about! With the Blue Jays immense victories, Weston has never been closer to the vast culture of the city than it is right now.

The Weston Lions Club has been working with the Jays for an amazing 39 years and are a huge part of why going to see the Jays is so spectacular.

Ashley and the Jose army!

If you have ever been to the dome, you know occasionally they give out some amazing merchandise. But you may ask, who are these friendly people giving me these Jays gems? The answer to that question is the Weston Lions Club!

Jim and Jose

At the doors of the dome, members of the Lions give away everything from Blue Jays bobble-heads to Jerseys to bucket hats! Thousands of Torontonians, flood into the Rogers Center excited for the game and the giveaway. They are almost as ecstatic to get their presents as the Lions are to give them away!

DSC00598

However, the Weston Lions Club wasn’t always down at the dome! 40 years ago, another Lions club was doing these giveaways! Unfortunately, they were unable to continue, but the Jays still wanted a community group to take over the deed. As soon as the Weston Lions heard about this, they jumped on board and took the place the previous lions left behind. Teaming up with the original Blue Jays fan club, and local teenagers looking to get their community hours; the Lions were down at the dome almost every weekend handing out Blue Jay’s goodies.

What the Lions are doing isn’t just for fun, however. The Blue Jays donate money to the Lions, for them to give back to the community. Over the years The Weston Lions club has raised over $600,000 for the Weston Community, by doing these Jay’s giveaways, and hosting many other fundraisers! They’ve managed to purchase 7 service dogs and have given countless scholarships to students perusing post-secondary education. The list goes on and on for the amazing work the local Lions do.

20160724_103412

“Working with the Jays is amazing. The best part about it all is seeing happy people at the dome all while helping the community and knowing what you’re doing is making a difference.” Enthusiastically exclaimed Jane Ross, past president of the Weston Lions Club, when I spoke to her about the work the Lions do.
She told me all about how people of all ages help out down at the dome. The oldest volunteers being in their late 80’s and the youngest in their early teens; the Jays and Lions alliance only ever does good for the community.
“we’re like the silent heroes of the community. Everyone knows about the money that gets put into the community, but no one knows where it comes from. This is where it comes from” She continued.
Interested in being part of this amazing team? You can contact Jane at: [email protected]

The Lions are always looking for more people to aid in their work with the mighty Jays, and getting to help Weston and see the jays in action? What could be better than that?


This post was brought to you by: Luisa Bada: Living in Weston and loving it

Planning Studies in the works for Weston and Mount Dennis

At the recent Etobicoke York Community Council, two strikingly similar motions were passed. Both give the go-ahead to Toronto City Council to review the current planning framework for two stretches of Weston Road, receive input from the community and report back with recommendations. Here is an extract from the Parke to Wilby stretch:

That Etobicoke York Community Council:
1. Request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to:

  1. undertake a review of the current planning framework for the study area including: built-form, density, height, and public realm of the properties on Weston Road between Parke Street and Wilby Crescent/Wright Avenue;
  2. consult with the community, including landowners and other stakeholder groups, together with the Ward Councillor, to understand the community’s concerns and to develop a vision for future development in the study area; and
  3. report back on the findings of the review and to provide recommendations for changes, if necessary, to the planning framework for the study area.

2. Request that the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning prioritize this planning study on the work program for 2017 or earlier.

Pic 1
Weston Road from Parke Street to Wilby Crescent
Weston Road from Ray Avenue to Humber Boulevard.
Weston Road from Ray Avenue to Humber Boulevard.

Both reviews are at the prompting of Councillor Frances Nunziata. Read the letter regarding Weston Village here and the one for Mount Dennis here.

According to the councillor, we need to re-visit the planning frameworks because of transportation changes like the UP Express and the Crosstown Line’s new Mount Dennis station.

Call me a cynic but we had a very nice plan for the northern section of Weston Road corridor keeping building heights to between 3 and 8 storeys but it was easily circumvented when the Weston Hub was approved.

Why bother coming up with a ‘vision’ and planning by-laws when these things are carved in jello and so easily put aside?

Weston Cultural Hub asking for clients

Artscape is looking for tenants for the new Weston Hub. They are asking for “expressions of interest” from program providers and prospective tenants. 

It’s all a bit complicated, but they say that this is not a rental application. It seems to be an application to apply. Still, if you are interested, you should have at it.

Your humble correspondent would like to see a business lounge, drone flying area, indoor park, brewery, and bakery. You can call me a dreamer.