Let’s re-think cars on our streets.

The winning photo from the recent Toronto Complete Streets photo competition.
The winning entry from the recent Toronto Complete Streets photo competition.

Adam’s article on bike licensing has hit the nail on the head.

Right wing councillors such as Junior Holyday™ and our own Ms. Nunziata are keen to have lower taxes and lower government intervention but only when it suits their own personal agendas. When it comes to protecting the status of cars and therefore their own personal travel times, bureaucratic expansion and government regulation are deemed to be essential tools, hence the suggestion to license bicycles, the most efficient mode of transportation ever invented. The only rationale offered seems to be that there are reckless cyclists who break the rules. As Adam has pointed out, scofflaw cyclists pose very little threat, unlike scofflaw drivers who check their messages, mascara, shave or have a meal while imposing their presence, air and noise pollution through the city.

Motor vehicles are a hideous, expensive and dangerous blight on society and unfortunately, we have built our communities to the point where they are a necessary evil. Public transportation has been denied priority and is starved of funding so that it is slow, overcrowded and uncomfortable. Mayor John Tory’s idiotic request to the TTC for a 2.6% budget reduction speaks to the pervasive ‘cart before the horse’ mentality at City Hall.
If Councillors Holyday, Nunziata and other like-minded representatives were forced to use public transportation in order to attend to their duties at City Hall, can you imagine how quickly the TTC would improve?

Amazingly, Toronto is the only major city in the world without a year-round pedestrian-only street. Think about it; that doesn’t happen accidentally. Similarly, in our own neck of the woods, Weston has no dedicated bike lanes on any of its streets. It’s largely thanks to our representatives who seem to be mentally stuck in an episode of Happy Days.

As the winning photo from the Complete Streets competition illustrates, cars spoil the environment in our cities. Unfortunately the photo was not taken in Toronto. It was taken in Porto San Giorgio, Italy. The second place photograph was taken in Toronto and looks pathetic in comparison. The other Toronto photographs are embarrassing in comparison to what is being achieved in major cities around the world. We have nothing remotely like the Italian example on any street in Toronto.

Toronto's example is from a temporary art project on John Street downtown.
The runner-up photograph, taken in Toronto is of a temporary art project on John Street downtown.

Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that cars have jumped the shark and that walking, bicycles and public transit are our future.

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: rosscjr@hotmail.com

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

Lutong Pinoy: A New Filipino Restaurant on Weston!

 

There’s a new Filipino restaurant in town and correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s the first in Weston!

Front store of Lutong Pinoy
Nora preparing our food.

Lutong Pinoy is a Filipino restaurant that opened its doors on May 22 at 1754 Weston Rd.  (south of Weston and Lawrence), just beside the 89 bus stop at Wilby Cres., heading south.

Just a quick Tagalog lesson (Philippines’ official language): “Lutong Pinoy” roughly means “Filipino cooking.” Lutong= “cooking from”. Pinoy=informal way of saying “Filipino” (like describing Canadians as Canucks).

I’ll be straight to the point: they’ve got some good dishes, fair prices and of course…karaoke! I’ll highlight dishes I recommend in just a bit. But let me just say, we’ve definitely got a restaurant here that’s stayed true to its roots. No bells and whistles, just straight up good cooking. The main cook, Chef Lito Garma has years of experience cooking at Filipino restaurants in the Sherbourne area (one of the first areas Filipinos settled in Canada). So this is definitely not a rookie restaurant.

I had a chat with Nora Transfiguracion, the restaurant’s main front server when I went in for lunch with my cousin last week. Her brother Zobel Garma, and his wife Joy Garma are the restaurant owners, so it truly is a family-run business. They had always wanted to open a restaurant and it was only recently that they’ve been able to give this venture a shot. I found out they’re actually from Scarborough and are getting to know the Weston area slowly. They scoped neighbourhoods in Toronto and found out Weston didn’t have any Filipino restaurants. There are a few on Eglinton West, plenty on Bathurst St. (dubbed little Manila), a good number to choose from in Scarborough, the modernized (and a bit expensive) restaurants slowly popping up downtown and there’s also one popular restaurant in Rexdale. But none in Weston.

Never tried Filipino food before? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

I recommend trying their BBQ pork skewers ($2.50/skewer but oh so so good), bistek (marinated, tenderized and sliced sirloin) or the very famous adobo chicken dish. If you’re more adventurous, they have a good number of dishes for you to try from oxtail with peanut-based sauce, to the popular pancit canton/bihon noodles. Since the food is laid out buffet style, you can pick and choose whichever dish catches your eyes.

BBQ Pork Skewer
BBQ Pork Skewer

 

Bistek on styrofoam
Bistek

For dessert, I would absolutely recommend turon, or simply, fried banana. For $1.25 a piece, you get a good size and they do not skimp on the sweet bananas!

2 pieces of turon (fried bananas)
Turon (fried banana)

Dishes and Special Combos

They currently have two regular combos: For $6, you can have any main dish like the ones above, with rice or noodles. For $8, you can get two main dishes with rice or noodles. But they also have a special deal on Tuesdays: fried chicken with rice or noodles for only $4. And finally on Wednesdays, you can have a rice and main dish for only $5. The portions are fair; one main dish was enough for me, and I almost couldn’t finish it—so you’ll be well fed if you have a couple of toonies to spare.

Combo #1 at Lutong Pinoy
Regular Combo #1- 1 dish + rice or noodles
Combo #2 at Lutong Pinoy
Regular Combo #2-2 dishes + 1 rice or noodle

In addition, Lutong Pinoy also does catering! They have a catering menu with detailed pricing and a long list of dishes to choose from. I know for my family, we won’t need to trek to Bathurst or even St. Clair when we make large orders of pancit or dinuguan.

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from on Weston Road, and this only adds to the many choices. The karaoke machine is running if you’re in the mood also, and maybe, just maybe, the chef will sing along with you ;).

Kareoke at Lutong Pinoy
Karaoke time!

Hours of operation:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-8pm
Sunday: 10am-6pm
(416) 264-6975
(647) 988-5494

5 Fantastic places to eat for under $10

Who doesn’t love trying foods from all over the world? While trying amazing dishes from all over the world is great, we can’t exactly hop on a plane whenever we want some piping hot juicy jerk chicken.

But, you can take a spin through Weston, and Mount Dennis, to find an array of amazing, and authentic restaurants, without breaking the bank!

Here’s a list of my personal favorite places to eat, in no particular order, in the Weston and Mount Dennis area!

Sun Crisp Fish and Chips: 2047 Weston Road

weston web 6

I have never been the biggest fan of seafood until I tried the fish and chips here. Sun Crisp serves up an array of fish and seafood, served with the fluffiest French fries I’ve ever tried. With options of halibut, cod, haddock and more, cooked up in a soft batter, it’s hard to not like fish after trying a plate from this amazing joint! Throw on some vinegar, and you have the perfect meal! Not a fan of fish? No worries! Sun crisp also serves up shrimp, scallop, and chicken! Plus, everything tastes good with a side of fries, so you can’t go wrong with whatever you order from this friendly little restaurant

Brioni’s: 169: Gary Drive

IMG_7628

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve mentioned before how much I adore this place. But I cannot stress how amazing everything here is! If you’ve got a taste for veal, veggies, pasta, or anything in-between, you will fall in love with Brioni’s! With friendly owners and a life changing tomato sauce, Brioni’s will be loved by your entire family. On top of all that, the portion sizes are huge! If you head to Brioni’s for lunch and get a serving of $5.50 lasagna, it’ll be enough for lunch and dinner! You can taste the love in this food, and will fall in love with it as well.

Golden Star: 1690 Jane Street

weston web pic 1golden star

Need a great lunch? Only have $5? Golden Star will be your savior! This Asian noodle house has some amazing food, for dirt cheap! A small, which is more so large, lunch special will get you an order of either spicy chicken or chicken wings and fried rice or noodles (and it’ll only cost you $3.80)! Golden Star is run by some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and their food is mind boggling! They also serve up delectable entrees such as beef and broccoli, hot and sour soup, sesame chicken and countless others

Kings Delight: 1658 Jane Street

weston web 3 weston web 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close your eyes after having one bite from King’s and you’ll question if you’re in Toronto or somewhere under the palm trees in the luscious Caribbean. Spicy pull apart chicken, mouth watering rice, beef patties and any other Caribbean dishes you can think of are severed here. After one bite, you wouldn’t be able to stop eating! Kings serves up some amazing food and drinks from all over the Caribbean for prices that will blow your mind! It’s no wonder this adorable restaurant is called Kings, it’s built for one!

Papino’s Pizza: 1788 Jane Street

weston web 2

This place is more than just the name. Not only do they serve some amazing pizza, but they also specialize in amazing fries, wings, and wedges! Amazing pizza with a huge variety of toppings, and wing flavors, Papino’s will make you forget about your one true love, pizza. This joint serves up some great fast food, for great prices. If the cheesy pizza doesn’t win you over, the crispy wings and fries will. Dipped in cool garlic sauce, Papino’s Pizza will transport you to an Italian villa. (or maybe just be the best fast food fix you


This post was brought to you by: Patricia, who thinks that you should get out and enjoy the Humber River.

Weston collegiate’s multi cultural night

May 25th 2016 marked Weston Colligate Institutes 11th annual Multi Cultural night. The night was jam packed with exciting events, delicious food and an amazing talent show. All volunteers at the event were dressed in cultural attire, and many hosted the games that were being played around the crowed cafeteria.

At 6:00pm guests started flooding, dressed in cultural attire, and seemed to run around the cafeteria to participate in all the different events. From family feud, to a photo booth, every event was extremely successful and everyone who participated had a great time.

image2

While all the events took place, there was also a buffet of delicious food for guest to enjoy. Tables were filled with a plethora of piping hot, delicious foods from all over the world. Dishes included steaming spring rolls, saucy lasagna, tres leches (three milk) cake, and every dish in-between. Everything served was amazing, and everyone went back for seconds.

When guests weren’t feasting on the delicacies of the night, they were able to purchase raffle tickets, and bid on a variety of gift baskets in a silent auction. The school was auctioning off baskets full of sports memorabilia, luxury chocolates, movie tickets, and the schools merchandise! Visitors could also buy raffle tickets, so they could have a chance to win prizes including Beats headphones, $100 gift cards and even a drone camera!

image1

Once the event was in full swing, a small fashion show took place through the area where guests were seated. Music was played and students were able to strut down the isles of the cafeteria, to show off their cultural attire.

IMG_7777

Just when the excitement seemed to be slowing down, the talent show began. Students and guests alike filed into the school’s auditorium to see spectacular performances.
Performers played songs, danced, sang and there was even a pair who did a breath taking spoken word poem. The show concluded with a teary eyed performance of One Love by Bob Marley from the grade 12 students who completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

image6

For eleven years Weston Colligate institute has been hosting this event, and it has always been a success. All proceeds from the event go towards the schools International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Funds help give scholarships to students pursuing post secondary education, as well as the annual Algonquin Park trip that takes place in September, for 9th grade and graduating students.

Weston’s Multi Cultural night is extremely popular with the school and community. Everyone in attendance always has an amazing time and talks about it for nights on end.

The official name of the event is A Taste of Weston IB with a Multi Cultural Twist, but it should really be called, Around the world in one night!


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

22 John St–my view:

I am not opposed to rental buildings on John Street. The Rockport Group developers—and Daniel and Jack Winberg in particular—are genuinely nice people, honestly concerned with doing a good job, and they want to give much to the community. We should welcome them and Artscape.

But Weston should get the most out of this deal, and we should be careful.

In particular, I am not thrilled about the 30-storey tower nor the self-storage facility. The original design, which called for a shorter tower and a wider base, was more like the Weston I love.

As I understand it, this shorter tower was overruled by city planners, who said that developments in Weston must adhere to the “Tall Building Guidelines”. The city planners are wrong—these guidelines are just that, guidelines, meant to be adjusted for neighbourhoods. I think we should be furious with them for overruling wise architecture and community sentiment. But it is likely—certain, even—that this ship has sailed. If we are getting a tower, it’s going to be a big one.

Maybe that’s not true of the self-storage facility. Right now, the plan calls for the long-empty space at the ground level of 33 King to be converted into a very large storage area for residents, artists, and the community.

This is a waste.

Space2 copy

The storage space will be five times larger than the cultural hub. It will be three times larger than the outdoor community space. In a real way, we can see this development as only an apartment and storage facility—together, they add up to 97% of the total developed area. The hub and the market are tiny in comparison.

Space copy

We can do better.

33 King has been empty for years, which might make one think it is a white elephant, a failed idea without potential. I don’t think so. It is empty because it can’t make money. But there are hundreds of happy potential customers with a million great ideas and endless energy—but no money except their allowances.

33 King is at the intersection of two schools, a cultural hub, and the library. It should be a space given to children and education. We could have

  • A daycare—our last  one closed several years ago
  • A tutoring facility
  • A maker-space
  • A community centre with recreation facilities
  • A huge indoor play area for the harsh winters
  • An indoor garden and park

But, more than anything, I think we should be creative. We should ask the schools and the libraries what they would do and what they could use. This is too good a space to waste on dusty books and broken lamps. It should be a space for fresh learning and bright lights.

Weston Cultural Hub – the issues, Part 1.

This is the first of a three-part series on the proposal to build a cultural Hub in Weston.

The idea of an artistic community sparking gentrification is an old one, well documented in many cities. The idea is that artists move into a run-down community, attracted by low rents. They enrich the area causing young professionals to move in, attracted by the cool vibe. Demand boosts property values and the area revives and gentrifies. Unfortunately, the artists are then priced out of the area and begin the process elsewhere.

Brewing for quite a few years has been the idea of a Cultural Hub that will spark an upturn in Weston’s fortunes. Like many good ideas it has several parents but a few individuals have been key in pushing the ideas along. More on that tomorrow.

Artscape is a ‘not for profit urban development organization’. It specializes in partnerships with the City of Toronto and (sometimes) developers to convert vacant or underused properties into cultural hubs. These are places where artists can live in subsidized live / work studios and at the same time, cultural organizations can rent space at a reduced cost.

Toronto City Council recently endorsed the plans to have our very own Cultural Hub in Weston. Let’s look at an Artscape project that is seen as a model for Weston.

Wychwood Barns

Wychwood Barns is in the affluent Bracondale or Hillcrest community of Toronto. It was built in 1913 as a streetcar maintenance and storage facility. After it was abandoned and sold to the city for one dollar, plans were made for its demolition. Councillor Joe Mihevc initiated the idea of re-purposing this heritage building. As always with such ideas, the process was long, involved and controversial but eventually with funding of $19 million the new Wychwood Barns Community Centre, including a greenhouse, beach volleyball court, leash free zone for dogs, artists’ housing, offices and green space emerged in 2011.

The old Barn building that originally stored street cars.
The old Barn building that originally stored street cars.
Inside the main building.
Inside the main building. There is community rental and office space upstairs.
One of the community organizations using a subsidized space.
The Children’s Art Studio. One of the community organizations using a subsidized space.

There is a well-attended year-round farmers market every Saturday that focuses on organic and sustainable produce. A waiting list of vendors applying to operate there is needed because of demand.

Outdoor Farmers Market stalls on Saturday May 23.
Outdoor Farmers Market stalls on Saturday May 23.

As mentioned, the project cost $19 million and was funded entirely by Artscape, the Federal Government, the Provincial Government, and the City of Toronto. Not one penny of developer money was needed for the project. The area around Wychwood is quite affluent with many streets of million dollar plus homes and but a single apartment building nearby.

The lone apartment building near Wychwood Barns.
The lone apartment building past Wychwood’s grounds and across the road at 580 Christie. As a co-ownership building, it cannot be converted into condos in order to preserve the rare affordable housing it provides for the area.

The impression of Wychwood Barns is one of purposeful activity. The place is a magnet for the area and affluence seems to be the order of the day. It is well attended with hordes of upwardly mobile young professionals, many with children in strollers. Outdoor market stalls sell what you might expect but also esoterica such as fancy mushrooms, sheep yogurt and hemp drinks (all organic of course). There is an art gallery, crafts stalls and even a theatre group engaging in loud, enthusiastic rehearsals in the main barn.

Could something like this work in Weston?

Tomorrow: Artscape’s plans for a Cultural Hub in Weston.