160th Anniversary Celebrations

This past weekend, Weston Collegiate Institute celebrated 160 years in operation. The school hosted events beginning with a monumental football game on Friday and concluding with an Alumni hockey game on Sunday. Community members, staff, present and past students
alike all came out to celebrate the success of this amazing school.
The events kicked off on Friday the 13th when Weston’s varsity football team played a home game against East York CI. The boys fought hard but unfortunately suffered a loss. However, they kept their heads held high and went into the weekend excited for all the events to come.

Saturday, was when the party really started. The festivities began at 11 am, in the school staff lounge with a breakfast for staff new and old. Facility members who graced Weston’s halls as early as the 1970’s were in attendance, and enjoyed catching up with their old co-workers (and meeting new ones).

As the day drew on, the Alumni foundation continued to pull out all the stops, hosting a ‘pub night’ in the school’s cafeteria. This event was for all past students and staff and was the highlight of the weekend! Memorabilia from the schools past was on display around the café,
as old students reminisced about days past.

Old yearbooks, pictures and even a pair of old skates were all out for everyone to see and read, as they remembered the days they called
Weston home. Current students at the school even took alumni on tours to look at how the school had changed over the years, and to marvel at historic pictures that grace our walls. (Some of which,
included them!) As the night progressed the party grew, and there wasn’t a single person in the room without a smile on their face! Grads from nearly every decade (including a lady who graduated in 1944),
were enjoying catching up and remembering just how much of an impact the school had left on them!

As Sunday approached the final event did as well. Students and staff who had been involved in hockey during their time at Weston ventured over to the Weston Lions Arena to participate in a
friendly hockey match. This was an opportunity for the once students, to play against the people who taught them so many years ago. (Don’t worry no math teachers were mysteriously injured during the tournament.) Weston CI is truly a monumental and amazing school. Despite a rocky reputation, the school is full of some of the most loving and amazing people in the city. For 160 years Weston has never failed to produce outstanding grads who have nothing but amazing things to say about their time in the halls of 100 Pine Street. Here’s to 160 years of Iron Man memories. And many more to come!


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Bloor Bike Lane Report is out

Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration
This cartoon illustrates how much of our streets are dedicated to traffic. Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration

Cycling is experiencing a boom in many cities in the world. Here in Weston, other than a short stretch along Eglinton between Scarlett and Jane, there’s no space exclusively dedicated to cycling through our streets. We have ‘sharrows‘ along streets like Weston Road and bike lanes that are simply painted lines but these do little or nothing to improve safety levels for cyclists in a city where people in vehicles have killed 2 cyclists and 28 pedestrians so far this year. Interestingly, when police report that someone has killed a pedestrian or cyclist, it’s the victims of driver inattention who are consistently lectured to wear light clothing and use more caution. Motorists are never asked to be more vigilant. The advent of the mobile phone and lax enforcement of distracted driving laws has made our streets less safe. Transportation Services’ cycling maps are hopelessly confusing and out of date.

Here in Canada, society favours motorists but Europe seems to be re-thinking their cities and many have extensive car free centres.

While Toronto doesn’t even have a single car free street, it is moving timidly in a more car-centric direction and recently set up bike lanes along Bloor street between Shaw Street and Avenue Road as a pilot study. The expectation was that the pilot would fail. Cyclist lanes would be unused, clog traffic and bankrupt the merchants along Bloor.

A report has been delivered to council with the following findings

The negative:

  • Car journey times did increase
  • Merchants had difficulty with deliveries
  • Parking convenience was reduced (longer walks)

The neutral or positive:

  • Increased journey times were reduced 50% with traffic signal adjustment
  • Cyclists felt safer and cycling increased by 49%
  • Motorists felt more comfortable with bikes separated
  • Near miss collisions have been reduced
  • Parking revenues remained steady
  • Most merchants reported increased customers and sales
  • Store vacancy rates were unchanged

As a result of the successful Bloor pilot, the city’s Transportation Services are recommending that the bike lane be made permanent. The report will go before the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and despite the committee’s car-oriented membership the recommendation will go forward to Council next month because as a result of the report, Mayor Tory supports the bike lanes. T.S. Committee members are: Christin Carmichael Greb, Stephen Holyday (Vice Chair), Chin Lee, Giorgio Mammoliti, Anthony Perruzza and Jaye Robinson (Chair).

Where does that leave Weston / Mount Dennis streets? Still dedicated to the traffic that mainly uses our area as a conduit to other places. Metrolinx is supposed to be investigating the extension of the West Toronto Railpath into our area but inquiries take weeks for a response and answers are vague or simply unhelpful. Even Toronto’s own Transportation Department doesn’t seem to bother to update its cycling information.

Toronto Cycling Map
A detail from the City’s latest cycling map showing our area. They still have the GO station in its old location. Click to enlarge.

Councillors in the suburbs tend to be very car-centric and ours is no exception. Ms. Nunziata’s support base may be called many things but cyclist tends not to be one of them. It remains to be seen if the Mayor’s turnaround will influence other members of Council when it comes to local bike lanes and public car-free areas. If this is his way of not being Doug Ford then long may it last! Perhaps he can also turn his attention to adequately funding the TTC and cancelling that idiotic $3.45 Billion one-stop subway.

Nunziata votes for Ford-dome

Frances Nunziata was one of few city councillors to vote to rename Centennial Stadium “Rob Ford Memorial Stadium”. Ford and Nunziata were long-time colleagues and friends before his death.

Image from The Globe and Mail

The motion to rename the stadium was defeated 24 to 11.

GTA Transit Planning Revealed.

From bms.co.in

The latest news of how transit gets built in this area comes as no surprise to most people in the GTA.  In the latest outrage, straight from the manual of how to operate a corrupt government, Provincial Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca possibly acting in a craven bid to keep his own seat, seems to have pressured Metrolinx into approving two unnecessary GO stations. One in his riding and another $25 million station which was (literally) forged into existence, in order to satisfy (Rob Ford in sheep’s clothing) Mayor Tory’s ill-conceived SmartTrack needs. With a wink and a nod to voters in next June’s election, Del Duca could point to the $100 million GO station as a reason to re-elect him. One might speculate that the March resignation of Bruce McCuaig was a reaction to this nonsense, knowing that the truth would eventually come out.

This chart illustrates the weekly passenger loads on TTC lines and routes. The downtown relief line would serve four times as many people as a Scarborough Subway. Click to enlarge. From reliefline.ca

The $3.35 billion, one-stop Scarborough Subway is another example of how transit planning is perverted by politicians for their own re-election purposes. Torontonians will be paying for that white elephant for the next 50 years while knowing that a much better LRT was already planned and paid for. Line 1 is overcrowded with 731,000 passengers weekly. Line 3 has only 40,000. In the meantime, politicians like Glenn de Bearemaeker and John Tory stick to the same nonsense that Scarborough deserves a subway. Even our own councillor, Frances Nunziata supports this obscenity presumably because she wants to Tory to keep her on as Council Speaker.

Closer to home, the UP Express was originally designed to be built privately and run non-stop to the airport. It was going to cost taxpayers nothing while barreling at high speed through our neighbourhood. Luckily the community got involved in the form of the people of Weston and the Clean Train Coalition. As a result of community pressure, Weston got its own station and a tunnel was built to put some of the line below grade. In spite of common sense, we’re still stuck with the CP tracks not going in the tunnel with the other lines, broken links between streets like John Street and a sell-off of the old GO parking lot for development without any community input. On the plus side, we now have an inexpensive, quick and frequent train to the airport and downtown but in fairness, no politician planned this; it was forced on them by community pressure.

Sadly, most politicians will do whatever they need to do in order to get elected. Public vigilance and pressure is the only answer. Being well informed and vocal is in every citizen’s best interest.

From Smart Citizen Engagement – Power to Sense: Dr Mazlan Abbas. Keynote Presentation at Asia Pacific Smart City Forum 2016

There is an old saying that war is too important to be left to the generals. Along the same lines, governing is too important to be left to politicians. Demanding and participating in community consultation events has never been more important. Especially since there is about to be a huge surge in redevelopment in Weston. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat’s resignation on Monday will only serve to stress the importance of informed citizen input.

Greenland Farm to develop old Loblaws site.

Greenland Farm Supermarket in January 2016 (File).

Greenland Farm at 1956-1966 Weston Road is a one-store supermarket that occupies a site once used for the same purpose by Loblaws many years ago. If you like fish, or a wide variety of products from all over the world, then GF is a great place to shop. It has for example, more types of hot sauce than you would find in a lifetime of searching through any chain supermarket.

It turns out that the owner would like to develop the site which is quite large as it includes the supermarket itself and a fairly substantial parking lot also fronting onto Weston Road. According to the latest newsletter from Councillor Frances Nunziata, there is interest in, “…redeveloping the site with commercial uses at grade level and residential above.”

Greenland Farms occupies a large site and parking lot in downtown Weston (from Google Maps). Click to enlarge.

In many ways, this is a vote of confidence in Weston but the quality of the proposal, the appropriate use of land and the height of the residential component will need to be carefully scrutinized.

A meeting will be held to discuss the owner’s thoughts and for residents to provide feedback so that a submission proposal can eventually be drawn up and presented to the City (which will be represented at the meeting).

In the formative stages of this idea it’s probably a huge opportunity for Weston residents to make their ideas and opinions count.

The meeting will be held at the York West Active Living Centre, located at 1901 Weston Road.

  • Date: Tuesday, August 29
  • Time 7:00 pm
  • Location: 1901 Weston Road

Mayor Tory schools Nunziata in compassion.

Last year, it was announced that up to 15 new homeless shelters would be built in wards throughout Toronto. One of them, a temporary shelter located at 731 Runnymede, just south of St. Clair Avenue West was proposed with a lease of 10 years with two 5-year extension options. Much effort has been put into ensuring that the shelter was to be state of the art after addressing many community concerns.

Early this morning, Ms Nunziata came up with a way of killing the shelter by cleverly proposing that the shelter site be leased for only 5 years at a time, effectively rendering the proposal dead given the uncertainties of the short time frame.

For some time now, Ms. Nunziata has been taking credit for chopping the proposed 100 bed shelter down to 50 but was shamed into voting for the temporary shelter’s 10-year lease when Mayor Tory gave the councillor and her allies a strongly worded lesson in compassion. Ms. Nunziata also managed to accuse city staff of misleading the council about the project but was forced to withdraw her comments by the mayor.

Her allies on the motion were Cesar Palacio and one of our many deputy mayors, Denzil Minnan Wong. No doubt it helps that Mayor Tory has the power to strip these councillors of their privileged positions on council.

Watch the whole process unfold here:

and part 2 here (Mayor Tory’s speech is in this one):

Perhaps Mayor Tory isn’t the worst mayor ever…. We’ll see.

Read more in this Toronto Star article.

Nunziata seeks advice on cycling

Frances Nunziata is looking to form a Pedestrian and Cycling Safety Committee “whose mission will be to help plan and promote safe and enjoyable ways for pedestrians and cyclists to travel throughout the ward.”

Her office is looking for a few good people to help give input on safety and planning, and the first meetings will be in May. You can contact her, if you’re interested, through her website. I hope to see you there!