Judicial review to go ahead.

A piece of good news has emerged from the life that was going on before COVID 19 hit.

As a reminder, in 2018, St Helen’s Meat Packers somehow managed to buy an 8-acre parcel of contaminated flood-plain land from the city after the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, normally fiercely protective of flood plain land, gave permission for its sale and use as a meat packing plant.

TRCA says that the land doesn’t help protect adjacent locations from flooding. Community consultation meetings became raucous affairs with St Helen’s employees ‘packing’ the meeting in matching t-shirts.

The cost for 8 acres of land in our fair city? $3.19 million.

Incidentally, Robert Bielak, president of St Helens is a Ford family friend and his wife donated (legally) to Ward 5 Councillor Frances Nunziata’s 2018 election campaign.

The site borders Rockcliffe Boulevard, a street where homes are flooded in severe rain events. The last hope for residents to stop the plant’s construction is a judicial review in which a judge will check to see if all protocols have been followed. Reviews are expensive but the $25,000 cost has been raised through a combination of public fundraising and private donors. Landscape architect Devin Tepleski organized the successful fundraiser. Incidentally, and in keeping with the councillor’s style of appearing to support both sides; one of  the donors to the fundraiser was none other than Frances Nunziata.

Frances Nunziata protesting in an Acorn march in October 2018. From CTV.

Read more here, here and here.

Floodplain fundraiser almost there

Thanks to a private donor, the gofundme fundraiser to launch a judicial review of the floodplain lands purchased by St Helen’s Meatpackers and approved by the TRCA has received a boost thanks to a donation of legal services. St Helens intends to build on the land in the face of common sense and community opposition.

The floodplain land opposite Rockcliffe Court. File.

According to team fundraiser, Devin Tepleski, the fundraising target is less than $2500 and the deadline is March 23.

From the fundraiser webpage:

“Since the TRCA decision, two men nearly drowned footsteps away from the creek, and homes in the area  flooded twice in one year.  How can the TRCA  claim to have a mandate to protect communities from flooding and at the same time allow easement on to city land so it can be sold to a meat packing plant?  This is same land they TRCA recommended be used to mitigate flooding in one of their own Environmental Assessments (2014).”

To donate click here.

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.

Another important development meeting.

This land will be developed at the corner of Weston and Lawrence. The old Scotiabank ‘wedge is on the corner and the church property extends to their parking lot currently used by UP Express commuters on weekdays. Adapted from Google Maps.

It has been a well-known ‘secret’ for some years that development is coming to the Scotiabank wedge site along with the Weston Park Baptist Church land at Weston and Lawrence. Rumours have abounded for years regarding this mega-site, painting all kinds of scenarios incorporating housing, a community / recreation centre as well as a replacement church. A new home for Frontlines was also mentioned in the rumours.

A ‘preliminary discussion’ meeting has been set up by Councillor Nunziata with the idea of ‘gathering input and ideas’.

WPBC entered into a joint venture with developer, Castlepoint Numa in June last year and according to their website the church was expecting to be shown proposals for the entire site by last fall. Based on that information,  I imagine that the ‘input and ideas’ stage has passed – but I then tend to be cynical.

Castlepoint Numa seems to be well regarded however, it was in the news a few years ago after one of their developments in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood failed, disappointing about 150 people who had paid deposits. The building would have been a ten-storey condo. According to the Star, one of the people left high and dry was none other than a son of Mayor Tory. Although the deposits were refunded, buyers were left several years behind in the ever rising tide of Toronto home prices.

Castlepoint Numa’s failed project in the Junction area of Toronto. From lowerjct.com

The explanation given for cancelling the project was Castlepoint Numa’s inability to obtain financing thanks (they claimed) to the city’s slow approval process. Read more here and here. There is evidence that Castlepoint Numa may have done this more than once.

This will be another important community meeting that will help guide the development of our ‘downtown’. We all know that development is inevitable and probably a good thing if it results in a building that works to enhance Weston rather than detract from it (as so many have done in the recent past).

Date: Monday February 24
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: Weston Park Baptist Church; 1871 Weston Road.

Funding for youth spaces proposed for 2020 budget

Frances Nunziata , John Tory, and Councillor Michael Thompson announced yesterday that the proposed budget will include $6 million to curb gun violence by, among other things, “creating new youth hubs [and] opening new youth spaces”—one of which seems likely to be on Falstaff Avenue and one of which may be in Mount Dennis.

Toronto is an extremely safe city, but there was quite a lot of gun violence last year, including in York South–Weston. There were 9 murders in 12 Division in 2019, triple the number in 2018. (12 Division includes many other neighbourhoods)  There were 490 shootings in Toronto last year—and shootings have increased dramatically since 2014.

From The Globe and Mail

The locations for the youth hubs have not been announced, and the funding must be approved by City Council, but that Nunziata and Tory made the announcement at Falstaff is encouraging.

In 2018, library staff also proposed opening a youth hub in Mount Dennis. In 2018, the TPL’s manager of youth services, Lisa Heggum, told The Star

The library has always been a space for youth…. Especially in more disadvantaged neighbourhoods, youth rely on access to computers, WiFi, books and other resources. The hub adds another space to connect with teens, she said.

She stressed their role is facilitation not supervision in a space where teens are encouraged to be loud and librarians aren’t shushing anyone.

 

 

Upcoming events

Tomorrow, the LEF will host a job fair and résumé critique from  11 to 2. The résumé critique might be particularly useful, because…


On Tuesday, February 11, Frances Nunziata is hosting a youth hiring event for job seekers from 16–29. The job fair will be at 50 Falstaff from 3 to 7 pm. Registration is free for youth.


The Artscape Weston Common is really hopping. This weekend, Piece of Mine Arts presents Black Women in Theatre, with an opening show on Friday night.

There are also ongoing drama programs for kids 4–14 and a robotics program. Good grief!


Speaking of Artscape, if you’re looking to get out of the house with your one-true-love on Valentines’, Kachan Quinlan Design Studio at Artscape is hosting a kids’ night with treats and painting.

WVRA’s Dave Bennett interviewed

WVRA Chair Dave Bennett is interviewed in this 18-minute video by local realtor Louisa Bada and talks about the work that goes on at the Weston Village Residents Association.

A few points of note in the video:

The developer of the subsidized rental retirement building proposed for 2346 Weston Road has resubmitted a new design. Bennett says the senior building was to be a ‘mish mash’ of one, two and three bedroom apartments with only one elevator. Now it will have only one and two bedroom apartments along with two elevators and a, ‘floor for guests’ where people can stay overnight. (I looked for the guest floor in the city report but it only mentions 188 square metres (2023 square feet of community space)). There will be a walking path on the top of the building. According to Bennett, it will be a place where, ‘I would put my mother’. I’m not sure if Bennett is claiming credit for the changes.

Bennett, says the City’s 28-page report on the 1956 Weston Road (Greenland Farms) development is a, ‘daunting document’ but the WVRA will put a link to it on their site with their own highlighted notes. Weston Web covered the contents of the report on January 4th -for our summary click here.

Comment: It’s great to see the WRVA opening up about what they do. I’m sure they mean well and do a lot of good in the community but if they are to truly represent all the residents of Weston, their meetings and decisions should be public and transparent. This will avoid the perception that the association is being used by Councillor Nunziata to legitimize questionable developments to the detriment of the public interest. Daylight is a good disinfectant.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions for the WVRA:

  • Residents should be able to join online.
  • The Constitution, by-laws and meeting minutes should be online.
  • Meetings should be publicized and open to any member of the public – especially those where developers and other lobbyists are present.

Here’s the video.