Today, the Weston Farmers Market officially began its 39th year and a trio of local politicians was there to celebrate. Local folklore as recorded by Councillor Nunziata claims that there’s never rain on opening day and this year was no exception. The Market is in its second of three years at the UP Express parking lot.
Today was a busy one in Weston. The Weston Farmers Market was open with a few stalls. Next week will be bigger and better. According to vendors, business was brisk. Everyone I spoke to was pleased with their sales.
The Farmers Market wasn’t the only activity happening today.
Down in the Humber Valley, exercise was on the minds of many.
Next week, the Parks and Environment committee will consider a $1 million proposal to give free trees to residents through the TreeForMe program. We could get in on that, but someone needs to organize a community event to make it happen.
Currently, Toronto has between 20% and 28% canopy cover, and Weston–Mount Dennis is roughly average, with about 25% coverage. However, the trees face serious pressure from Asian longhorn beetles, ash borers, and climate change; and canopy cover has barely grown over the past decade. The ash borer alone could kill 8.4% of the trees in the city. The forestry department is also facing an after-inflation budget cut.
To fight the dangers, the TreeForMe program will give one or two of a large variety of native trees (I got matched with a serviceberry!) to interested participants who participate in a community event. The good people of Rockcliffe–Smythe, to our south, have organized one, and are expecting to distribute about 150 trees on May 13—an effort upon which residents might piggyback.
But wouldn’t it be better to host one ourselves, perhaps to distribute at the grand opening of the Farmers’ Market in June? Think of the benefits: more clean air, habitat, shade… and community spirit.
I know it’s just an artist’s drawing but the image posted on Artscape Weston’s site does not give the impression of a big enough space available for the market. Will it be possible to shoehorn the traders from the 2016 market into the 2018 one in the new Hub location?
My suspicion is that the space will not be sufficient leading to either a loss of traders or the market simply moving to another location.
Here’s an overhead look at the old market.
The market was to have been an important component of the Hub. Traders cannot be forced to use the space if they believe that it won’t be worth the effort, or if there is no room to set up an adequate space. Additionally, in the past, stall holders were able to overflow their pitches without penalty. If space is tight, such flexibility will be impossible.
Today was the last day of the Weston Farmers’ Market. I went with my family at midday, when the vendors were beginning to wind down. There was a pronounced melancholy in the air, along with the threat of rain.
The three local politicians were there, announcing to a small crowd a new—and quite nice—mural facing the GO parking lot. It has a quite different aesthetic than most of the murals in town: more abstract, with an 1980’s colour palette.
Ever since Scotiabank pulled the plug on its Weston and Lawrence location, speculation has been mounting regarding the future of the corner site. It’s a bit of a historic building in its own right and might even be preserved in some form when redevelopment inevitably takes place.
When the discussions (Charettes) around planning for the UP Express were taking place back in 2011-12, the site was bandied about as having a possible future institutional use – perhaps a community college (George Brown) or a YMCA facility – later deep-sixed by the YMCA themselves. George Brown’s objection was that without all day GO Train service, the location would not be considered. Now that we have (a sort of) all-day service and as an added bonus the newly affordable UP Express, perhaps the college will reconsider but it may be too late.
Next door to the Scotiabank site, the Weston Park Baptist Church (WPBC) community has made no secret that they would be interested in selling up, together with their parking lot received as a donation several years ago. They also expressed an interest in being part of any new development of the site. Incidentally, the WPBC parking lot saved the Farmers Market’s bacon earlier this season when in spite of years of advanced notice, Metrolinx puzzlingly fell mute on permission to use the UP Express parking lot on Saturdays. At short notice, Weston Park’s minister saved the day and the market was able to operate on WPBC land until Metrolinx’s vast bureaucracy was prodded into spitting out the necessary paperwork.
Added together, these two locations plus any land that Metrolinx throws in, would form a site with considerable development potential. In the original Charette plans, it was deemed that the street frontages of any new buildings on Weston and Lawrence would be low to mid-rise while anything built further back from Weston Road near the tracks could go higher. Rumour has it that a deal has been in the works for some time and that once the details are carved in stone, the public will be invited to comment.
We all know by now that City building guidelines go out the window whenever a developer offers a few crumbs to the community so cynical readers will know to expect some tall residential buildings on that corner. Add a rubber stamp from the ever-so-accommodating Weston Village Residents’ Association (representing a tiny fraction of the thousands of people in Weston) and yet another golden opportunity will have been lost.
One side-effect of having the WPBC parking lot out of commission is that in 2018, the Farmers Market will be dragged kicking and screaming back to a much smaller space in the newly built and pristine Weston Hub. Unlike the current set-up, space will be at a premium so traders’ vehicles will have to be parked relatively far away. Traders are very unhappy about this. Removing the WPBC parking lot as an alternate site will reduce the possibility of a mutiny on the part of these traders, a feisty and vociferous bunch who have enjoyed increased sales at the more visible Weston Road location and are murmuring about boycotting the new Hub site. This lack of an alternative location will be a win for Councillor Nunziata who would have some ‘splainin’ to do if the ‘Farmers’ were able to boycott the new digs. It still remains to be seen whether or not the traders (some of whom are actual farmers) will be able to fit into the smaller spaces more suited to selling pickled condiments than pumpkins and unshucked corn.
Whatever happens, you can guarantee that the people who actually live, work and shop in Weston will be the last ones to be consulted or informed.