John St to be transformed project tomorrow

John Street will be transformed tomorrow night and for the rest of the summer. Metrolinx, the City, and the Urban Land Institute will be stringing lights, adding street furniture, and planting flowers to start the process of revitalizing the corridor.

The plan calls for the temporary narrowing of the roadway – with the space given over to a public “sidewalk-café-like seating area surrounded by flowers and crowned with festive lights strung from one side of the street to the other. …

This street furniture installation, which will remain throughout the summer, will be constructed in the afternoon and early evening of Friday, June 15. Urban Arts Community Arts Council (located on John Street) will be painting the pavement with colourful graphics to enliven the area.

 

Everyone is invited to the grand opening and flower planting from 4 to 8.

 

Events this week

 Saturday, June 16th: Official Grand Opening of the Weston Village Farmers’ Market

Official opening day on Saturday, June 16th, combined with the Best of Weston Festival.  The market will have vendors at the market whose fruits, vegetables and spices will reflect the variety of cultural groups who reside in Weston.  This years market will also be more “kid friendly” with lots of activities planned for the younger generation. (Face Painting, Entertainment weekly and “Tune Up Your Bike” on May 12th only)  Our closing day is Saturday, Oct 27th. Please join us.

Saturday, June 16th: Annual Best of Weston Festival

Grammy artist and 3 time Juno Award recipient – Liberty Silver

Opening Ceremonies : Little Ave. Memorial Park Free BBQ Lunch

TC3’s African Drummers, RC Jazz Trio, Progress/Reggae Artist, Go Glee Club, Somalian, Bobby Dreadfull, Voice and Dance performances, Spoken Word and more!

Fire jugglers, face painting, tattoo artists, bouncy castle, mini soccer, caricature artist, GO and BMO bears, prizes and more!

Sidewalk Sale – Businesses on Weston

It’s not an Airport Link, it’s a subway!

Mike Sullivan (L) and Jonah Schein

Mike Sullivan had a crowd of at least 60 people on hand last night as he outlined some of the latest news in the ongoing Airport Link saga. The level of interest and concern was indicated by the fact that nobody left before the end. Guest speaker, Davenport MPP Jonah Schein spoke about the need to lobby politicians for change and how important it is that citizens make their views known. His riding is to be similarly affected by the noisy diesels of the Airport Link.

The latest developments range from the mundane to the outrageous. The bottom line, if Weston wishes to be treated like a doormat, all we have to do is lie here passively and politicians, autonomous government organizations and developers will trample all over us.

Here are some of the highlights:

Trains and Transit

The province is still determined to build a diesel rather than an electric link. The Japanese class 4 diesel trains are ordered but not built. Because the electrification study recommended electrification, people have been fooled into thinking that the line will be electrified immediately but as it stands, will not be for several years.

Class 4 diesel trains pollute to the same standards as those for city buses. GO trains pollute more. In spite of this, the proposed rail link will create more pollution because estimated passenger numbers are only about 12 per carriage or 24 per train. 24 cars would pollute less.

The Airport Link trains require a different platform height to GO trains and need a separate platform.

The City of Toronto Official Plan calls for a GO station at Liberty Village. GO has no plans for this.

Weston has the second highest intersection of public transit routes in the city yet is not considered a ‘Hub’ because the links do not intersect at right angles. Other hubs are sparsely populated while 10,000 people live in Weston’s high rise buildings not to mention other forms of housing.

Great Idea from an audience member:

This line could meet the definition of an above ground subway. Subway trains would allow more stops along the line without increasing the Pearson to Union travelling time. Subways have much lower noise and pollution levels.

Failing that—the Japanese trains are alleged to be convertible to electric operation—why not do the job now?

Bridges and Tunnels:

The John Street pedestrian bridge is down to four contenders. The pedestrian bridge across Lawrence will not be built for a couple of years. It will be to the west of the railway bridge. It would have been nice if the extension to the rail track and the pedestrian bridge could have been built together rather than putting motorists through two sets of delays.

There will be two tunnels under the railway lines; one at the station itself and another at the south end parking lot. The station tunnel should logically go under the CP tracks but CP is being ‘difficult’. If it went under the CP tracks it could emerge by the Tim Hortons parking lot.

Desirable Institutions:

We are #3 on Humber College’s list of possible sites although they would love to have a campus at the station.

The YMCA is looking for a site to build a facility and has expressed interest in opening a Weston branch.

John Street Parking:

The Toronto Parking Authority owns the current GO parking lot where the Farmers’ Market is held. It has tendered out to a real estate broker with a view to selling  to a developer but the details are confidential. This is Weston land and belonged to Weston Village before amalgamation. The site might be ideal for the YMCA with space for a farmers market and residential housing.

Postscript:

Councillor Nunziata has contacted WestonWeb to say that the John Street parking lot is being developed to accommodate a year-round farmers’ market, cultural hub and affordable condo living / workspace for artists. She goes on to say that nothing is being done behind closed doors. Perhaps she can shed some light on this topic on March 14th.

Schools:

Students from St. John the Evangelist Catholic School are currently being bused 40 minutes each way to Brother Edmund Rice during Rail Link construction. Their school is slated for an addition / rebuilding but the Toronto Catholic School Board and the Province haven’t got their act together. Mike Sullivan wonders why work isn’t going on now while students are already inconvenienced.

Billboards:

The giant billboard on CN property is still a go. This is to be a giant TV screen four times larger than the current static one. The company that runs these things is looking for extended hours so that the lights will be on longer. There will be a meeting to discuss the issue and strategies to oppose the billboard on March 14 at 1901 Weston at 7:00pm. This will be the start of many such abominations throughout the city.

Bottom Line:

The minority provincial government is in a precarious situation and is anxious that support not be eroded further. The Province is behind the project and tells Metrolinx what to do. The Premier and MPP Laura Albanese need to hear the message that people are not happy with what is going on.

Residents of Weston are asked to contact politicians at all levels and encourage them to support electrification along with the points noted above.

 

John Street Bridge Designs Detailed

‘This bridge will make people want to leave the train at Weston and have a look around.’ Three architects outlined the concepts behind four bridge designs selected by the John Street Pedestrian Bridge Community Advisory Committee on Saturday March 3rd and this seemed to be their common refrain. One architect even simulated the view of his bridge from a train.

The turnout was fair – perhaps 20-30 citizens although each level of government was represented by MP Mike Sullivan, MPP Laura Albanese and Councillor Frances Nunziata along with a number of Metrolinx and Council officials.

In an effort to provide a noise barrier for residents, GO and Airport Link tracks are to be lowered through part of Weston and John Street will be closed to traffic at the railway tracks. This will probably happen late next year and a pedestrian bridge will link the two sides. Metrolinx has budgeted $6m and the citizens’ committee has been hard at work for quite some time. Designs all meet height and electrification upgrade requirements.

The meeting was held so that citizens could examine designs and concepts in detail and question each responsible architect. Bridges range between 4 and 5 metres in deck width and are designed to accommodate pedestrians and (the wider ones) bicycles. Two are truss designs traditionally associated with Ontario railway bridges and two are more ‘out there’ with bicycles as their inspiration. Because the GO tracks are being lowered, the bridge steps and ramps will not need to be as high. Apparently it’s not possible to lower the CP tracks so one bizarre annoyance is that the bridge will not cross all the rail tracks. Hopefully pedestrians and cyclists will not assume that the CP tracks are abandoned – some kind of barrier will be in place to close access when a train is coming.

There was concern that a planned pedestrian bridge which will run alongside the railway bridge across Lawrence should have a matching design. Other residents asked about maintenance, snow removal and vandalism.

Attendees were given an opportunity to submit written comments and there is an online version here.

Regardless of the final choice, with a wise selection, the new bridge will be a further impetus for regeneration in the years to come.

Council wants to hear from you about Weston 2021

Frances Nunziata wants to hear from you about Weston’s future.

Etobicoke York Community Council will be meeting on February 14 to discuss the big changes to Weston discussed in the “Weston 2021 Revitalization Strategy”, which in turn sprang out of the consultations of the past year. Among them,

  • The new creative hub and Farmers’ Market at the John St parking lot
  • The redevelopment of John Street
  • The ‘renewal’ of the troubled buildings at 1765 Jane
  • New street furniture, widened sidewalks, and improved signage
There is a lot of information in the reports (I’ll try to put some of the highlights up over the next few days), and this meeting looks like it will be important.

Community Council will meet in the Council Chambers of the Etobicoke Civic Centre at 399 The West Mall. You should register in advance if you want to make a deputation. contact Rosemary MacKenzie at (416) 394-8101 or at [email protected]. If you can’t make it, you may submit written comments to [email protected].

Frances Nunziata says,

I look forward to hearing your feedback on the Weston 2021 Revitalization Strategy and encourage you to send your comments or attend the Community Council meeting on February 14th!