Mid-Humber Gap meeting

There’s been a lot of exciting news in Weston lately, and here’s one project I’m particularly thrilled about: The Mid-Humber Gap multi-use recreational trail project.

As a cyclist, in a community with rich cycling history (Weston was the home of CCM Bicycles), and with growing cycling enthusiasm among neighbours, this project can’t come soon enough. And this project isn’t just for cyclists… it’s for everyone who walks, jogs, wheels their way along the banks of the Humber River.

The first public consultation event will be held virtually on June 10th from 6:30-8:30pm, registration required. Participants should visit the project web page or this link to register.

Fixing the gap ought to create a seamless journey from the current north end staircase of the trail (near Weston & St Phillips) to Jane Crawford Memorial Park (about 1 block west of the Real Canadian Superstore). And it could be a lasting legacy to this community and everyone who lives near the Humber River trails. It will make our green spaces more accessible and provide affordable transportation options for generations.

Weston Clean Team

The Weston Clean Team is an awesome group of volunteers who regularly beautify parts of our neighbourhood. WCT has transformed many corners of Weston in the past and they will be in action this weekend, assembling Sunday at 1:30 on John Street south of the pedestrian bridge.

From their Facebook post:

1) We ask you to join us in the capacity that suits you best.**** Independently for 1- 2 hours at an area you want to change -or-**** Join the physically scattered group 1:30 -3:30 meeting on John, between Weston and the bottom of the pedestrian bridge.

2) If you find a shopping cart, place your garbage in it and text Mel Hamelin where it is.

3) Councillor Frances Nunziata has expressed gratitude for our efforts and will also be joining.

4) Please pick up one thing at a time to refrain from injury and contact of unseen items.

5) At the impromptu clean up last weekend, we brought our own bags and gloves. While we are organizing this in response to the request to join, we are not an organization and so do not have the supplies. Councillor Frances Nunziata Ward 5 indicated she will bring bags to the 1:30 meeting location

6) We are doing this simply because. Because we are a community, because we care.

7) If you yelled, ‘Thank you’ to us last weekend; if you liked our clean up post, please show your gratitude by joining us on this impromptu clean up.

Having been part of WCT clean-ups in the past, I can vouch that joining the group is a great way to meet some awesome neighbours while doing something positive for our community.

Report on Mount Dennis Eco Group meeting.

Megan DeLaire at Toronto.com has written a report on the recent meeting of the Mount Dennis Eco-Neighbourhood group. Mount Dennis through their community association has spearheaded a drive to make Weston’s southern neighbour into a net-zero community.

What is a net-zero community? The term isn’t clearly defined but in general, it’s a place where total carbon emissions are reduced to zero through conservation, by changing energy sources and by generating a surplus of non-carbon based energy that is used to offset carbon emissions. It’s a laudable goal and a determined group at MDCA has been pushing it for several years with considerable success. The gas-powered generating station that was to supply the Eglinton Crosstown with emergency power was nixed in favour of a large battery. This was thanks to concerns expressed by the MDCA and others that not only would the generator pollute the neighbourhood, it would also be used during times of peak demand, adding to local pollution levels..

It’s refreshing that all three local politicians seem to be behind this endeavour, MP Ahmed Hussein sent greetings by video message, MPP Faisal Hassan is strongly supportive and local councillor Frances Nunziata spoke to the audience. Nunziata seems open to supporting net zero in new buildings which is a good thing. This will be more expensive up front but the cost savings and lower pollution levels will last for the lifetime of a building. Check out this building in London Ontario.

From CBC.ca.

Read Megan’s report here.

What does a good neighbourhood look like?

From City of Toronto.

Developers have returned to Weston and Mount Dennis for two reasons:

  1. There is an opportunity to make money.
  2. See reason #1

The opportunity has arrived thanks mainly to government infrastructure spending, mainly in the form of improved transit. Developers are not benevolent entities so that’s why we have planning departments and civic government to protect us from their excesses.

Why have developers come here? The city is expanding and transit links have improved. The UP Express makes a trip to the airport or downtown quick and easy. The much awaited Eglinton Crosstown line will be opening in 2021 2022 and with good transit comes increased property prices and investment opportunities. The city will gain from the increased property tax assessments that new buildings and increased density will provide.

Win Win.

Unless…

We have all witnessed first hand the results of bad development. In fact Weston could be called the poster child for corrupt and shoddy development imposed on the community in the 70s and 80s. In addition, community housing has been allowed to deteriorate through bad management and constrained budgets. When Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris dumped responsibility for social housing onto the city in 1998 he promised that the transfer would be revenue neutral. Last year Ottawa announced funding to help ease the $1.6 billion repair backlog.

Anne Hidalgo has been the Mayor of Paris since 2014. The city isn’t perfect and they are looking at an idea that is gaining traction. The idea is that nobody in Paris should be more than a fifteen-minute walk or bike ride to everything they need in order to live well.

Adapted from: Le Paris du ¼ heure. From Paris en commun. Click to enlarge.

Clearly, if people could live close to everything they needed, life would be a lot better. People would be healthier thanks to exercise and reduced fumes from vehicles. Is this a possibility for Weston and Mount Dennis? We certainly have the parks, outdoor exercise opportunities and fresh air (given the constraints of local highway pollution). Access to a doctor / health care is probably reasonable (readers may wish to comment). The things our community seems to lack are cultural opportunities, good produce stores, a decent bakery (mmm baguettes) and a bigger variety of workplaces.

Charlottesville Virginia has become a walkable city. From c-ville.com.

It doesn’t help that in the past 20 years the bike network in York South Weston seems to have grown at the same rate as a sloth’s fingernail. Toronto routinely fails to spend its annual budgeted allocation on bike trails and lanes. In 2016, the City’s 10-year cycling plan was supposed to create 560 km of bike lanes and cycle paths. Two years later, 33 km had been built. The City claims it’s because of the environmental and other assessments that need to be done beforehand. I think it’s a lack of will. On this side of the pond, Charlottesville has made their city walkable. So it is possible if the will is there.

Rio de Janeiro’s version of Lakeshore Boulevard (oh the irony) is closed to traffic every Sunday. File.

We need to impress on politicians that traffic-clogged streets and car-dependent neighbourhoods are harmful to our health. Developers and city planners should be working towards the day when everything is within walking or cycling distance. This is why we as a community should be vigilant and not allow poor design, rampant greed or both to be the deciding factors in what gets built here. We need to be vigilant for the people who will make Weston and Mount Dennis home over the next 50 years.

Air pollution an issue in YSW.

Megan Delaire has written an article about traffic related air pollution (TRAP) in toronto.com today and the accompanying gif is a telling reminder of why the shift to electric vehicles cannot come soon enough for the health of people living in Toronto near major highways and downtown.

The article uses a gif that rotates a series of four images showing the levels of four pollutants measured and published in 2017.

The gif showing the four maps.

Here are the four individual maps in a static format so they can be viewed more easily. York South-Weston is outlined in red. It’s clear that the greater volumes of traffic on the 401 and downtown create more TRAP. The first two maps show particulate matter in two sizes. Small particles are insidious because they can irritate the lungs. The smaller the particles, the bigger the risk to health.

Read more on particulate matter here and here

 

Nitrogen Dioxide is a pollutant that irritates the respiratory system and can trigger asthma.

More on Nitrogen Dioxide here.

 

Benzene is a particularly nasty chemical associated with gasoline. More on benzene here.

It’s clear from the maps that living near major highways provides a greater exposure to contaminants. Noise is just one of the toxic by-products of major highways. The faster we can move to electric vehicles, the better for our health. More on TRAP from the University of Toronto here.

Megan promises a follow-up article describing what can be done to reduce TRAP levels. Read the article here.

 

Jagmeet Singh promises flood relief

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited York South-Weston today and heard from local residents about flooding issues in the riding. Accompanying Mr. Singh were many well known NDP faces in the area including MPP, Faisal Hassan, upcoming federal election candidate Yafet Tewelde and local organizer Chiara Padovani who conducted the tour. Mr Singh, an affable and attentive man spent a couple of hours in the area.

The leader walked from Rockcliffe Court to Hilldale Road to hear some of the issues that have not been dealt with despite years of local flooding. The recent sale of 8 acres of city owned flood plain land at 200 Rockcliffe Court exposed some of the less savoury aspects of decision making in our fair city.

The contentious land at 200 Rockcliffe.

The land was sold off to a meat packing plant in spite of residents’ objections. This is an area that routinely floods after a storm and where nearby, in a recent event, two men almost drowned in an elevator as water flooded the building they were in. Read more in this excellent article here.

Chiara Padovani talks about the controversial city decision to sell flood plain land to a meat packer.

Faisal Hassan, Jagmeet Singh and Yafet Tewelde listen to the 200 Rockcliffe story.

Jagmeet Singh and Yafet Tewelde greet Hilldale Road residents.

At Hilldale Road, local resident Franco Ruffolo opened his home to show the extent of flooding he and his neighbours have faced in the past few years. Franco showed some video of the water levels and damage that his property sustained and outlined the inadequate settlements from insurance companies. Residents in the area worry that insurance companies will no longer issue policies on their homes.

Franco Ruffolo shows Jagmeet Singh video of his home flooding.

Jagmeet Sing is proposing that instead of matching funds with the city and province, an NDP government would pay the whole cost of flood remediation work so that homeowners in flood prone areas are better protected and don’t need to wait for all three levels of government to agree. He is promising $2.5 billion to respond to disasters and support communities like York South – Weston to adapt their infrastructure to withstand floods and other extreme weather events.

The tour went off well and made some strong points. Mr. Singh delivered some concluding remarks at the end of his visit and then spoke live to the media.

Local candidate Yafet Tewelde added some remarks.