Possible flooding solution rejected in 2017.

A man walks under Weston’s Lawrence Avenue bridge the day after the floods of July 2013 (file).

One of the problems of living in a big city is that much of the surface is paved over. When it rains, water drains quickly and can raise river and stream levels as well as create flooding in low lying areas. The solution is well known. Plant trees, build green roofs and where possible create temporary holding tanks for sudden water flows. To pay for this, staff last year proposed charging homeowners for the amount of non-absorbing roof and parking surface on their property. These are the people creating the problem so it’s fair that they should help pay for the solution. When Toronto’s Executive Committee considered the matter, following the Mayor’s direction, they recommended voting against the charges.

Councillor Nunziata voted with the mayor when the matter came to a full meeting of council but today has issued a helpful email itemizing what to do if your basement floods. That will be of small comfort to the many people whose lives have been disrupted yet again.

Running a big city costs money. Without a mayor and council with the courage to do the right thing, ordinary people are left to suffer the consequences. Charging people for the runoff they create would encourage a reduction in stormwater runoff and help pay for larger-scale flood prevention measures.

Instead of following staff recommendations, Mayor Tory and Councillors Mammoliti, Nunziata and others seemed place their trust in the short memory of voters, believing their re-election chances are more important than flooded basements. Kindred spirit Giorgio Mammoliti framed the charge as a ‘roof tax’ that would not play well in the suburbs.

Are voters really that stupid?

Nunziata challenged to refuse corporate and developer donations

It’s well known that a small number of people finance the election campaigns of most councillors in this city, especially incumbents. In Ward 12, much of this money comes from outside the ward and is no doubt given in expectation of future considerations. Brave are candidates who refuse such money as it’s harder to collect small amounts from a larger number of people.

Strictly speaking, only individuals can donate to a councillor’s election campaign and the cap on such donations is $750. In effect though, wealthy business owners can exert an undue influence as very few people can afford to donate so generously – even with the rebates that the city gives to donors. Toronto keeps track of complete donation lists on this website.

Here is a list of $400+ and/or well known donors to Councillor Nunziata‘s 2014 campaign. Few of these people lived in the ward the time and in fact more than a third of her donors didn’t even live in Toronto. Ward 11 residents are marked in blue.

  • Constantine Alexiou, (Ward 11), $600
  • Palvinder Aujla, (Mississauga) $750
  • Pritpal Aujla, (Mississauga) $750
  • Alex  Bela, (Richmond Hill) and Jack Matrosov (North York) $2000 – Checker Taxi
  • Maurizio Bicci, (Ward 17) $400
  • Gloria Bielak, (Forest Hill) $750 – St Helens Meat Packers
  • Adam Brown, (Yonge/Sheppard) $500
  • Roslyn Brown, (Downtown Toronto) $750
  • Fran Caplan, (York Mills / Yonge) $400
  • Frank Caruana, (Mississauga) $500
  • Paul Caruana, (Junction) $400
  • Chau Yan-Thoai, (Etobicoke) $400
  • Carlo Corsetti, (Richmond Hill) $400
  • Ettore Corsetti, (Newmarket) $400
  • Patrick Corsetti (East Guillimbury) $400
  • Manuel DaCosta, (King City) $750
  • Debra DeMonte (High Park) $400
  • Rueben Devlin, (North York) $200 – Former President & CEO Humber River Hospital
  • Robert Deluce, (Summerhill) $300 – President of Porter Airlines – Donated $3930 to 10 candidates (Holyday, Colle, Minnan Wong, Kelly Crisanti), 8 of whom won.
  • Sean Didierserre, (Forest Hill) $600
  • Thomas Erlich, (St Clair East / Mount Pleasant Road) $600
  • Bob Foley, (Ward 11) $400
  • Karla Ford, (Etobicoke) $750 – Doug Ford’s Wife
  • Masum Hossein (Mississauga) $200 – Weston BIA Chair
  • Gabriella Galli, (Ward 11) $400
  • Mitchell Goldhar, (North York) $350 – SmartCentres Real Estate Income Trust. Donated a total of $3300 to 9 candidates, all of whom won.
  • Khalid Irshad, (Milton) $400
  • Cameron Johnstone, (Georgetown) $600
  • John Johnstone, (Ancaster) $400
  • Jose Lourenco, (Davenport / Dufferin) $750
  • Terry Mantzukis, (Ward 11) Realtor $400
  • Alex Matrosov (Richmond Hill) Wheelchair Taxi business $750
  • Bela Matrosov (Richmond Hill) $750
  • Pina Morelli, (Woodbridge) $750
  • Holly Murdoch (Mississauga) $400
  • Tim Neeb (Mississauga) $400
  • Aleksander Nikolovski, (Eglinton / Spadina) $400
  • Frances Nunziata, $20
  • Frances Nunziata, $1613.42 – Signs and office supplies from previous campaign
  • Cormac O’Muiri, (Mississauga) $500
  • David Paiva, (Dufferin / Dupont) Luso Canadian Masonry Ltd. $750
  • Matthew Pantalone, (Etobicoke) $750 – Developer
  • Pat Pelosi, (Woodbridge) $750
  • George Politis, (Bolton) $400
  • Frank Raso, (Etobicoke) $400
  • John Ruddy, (Gloucester, ON) $750 Ottawa developer
  • Dero Sabatini, (Etobicoke) $400 Mississauga – TD Bank VP
  • Marvin Sadowski, (North York) $500 – Former Developer?
  • Stacey Scher, (Aurora) $600  – All Canadian Self Storage
  • Bruno Schickedanz, (Kettleby, ON) $750 – Developer and Woodbine horse owner
  • Conrad Schickedanz, (North York) $250 – Developer
  • Tony Scianitti, (Maple) $750 – Developer
  • George Seretis, (Thornhill) $400 – Easy Plastic Containers Vaughan
  • Darryl Simsovic, (Oakville) $400 CEO – Trillium College (Private career college)
  • Marcel Stirpe, (Woodbridge) $200 Toronto Chrysler
  • Paul Sutherland, (Grafton ON), $200, Former Toronto Councillor, now lobbyist. Involved in TPA Emery Village land purchase.
  • Tim Tallon, (Etobicoke) $400
  • Alan Tonks, (North York) $200 – Former YSW MP
  • Chris Tonks, (North York) $300 – TDSB Trustee
  • Alan Tregebov, (Deer Park) $200 – Architect
  • Steven Upton, (East Toronto) $600 – Tridel
  • Lou Vavaroustos,  (Woodbridge) $750 – Old Mill Cadillac
  • Susan Vavaroutsos, (Woodbridge) $750
  • John Ward, (Etobicoke) $500 – Ward Funeral Home
  • Jack Winberg, (North York) – $200 – Weston Hub Developer
  • Hua Yang, (Downtown Toronto) – $500
  • Don Yuill, (Ward 11) $500

Oddly, none of Ms Nunziata’s 135 donors donated less than $200.

The generous rebates offered to donors – even those living outside the city.

Chiara Padovani is  running against Councillor Nunziata (and if Doug Ford has his way, Ward 12 Councillor Frank DiGiorgio). She has stated that she will not accept donations from any business interests including developers.

One can ask if this is a strategic mistake that will hamstring Ms Padovani’s campaign or will voters choose to reward a candidate who does things differently?

United ward spells trouble for Nunziata and DiGiorgio

From CTV News.

Under the proposed new municipal setup, councillors will represent federal ridings and as a result, Wards 11 and 12 will become one. In York South-Weston, two incumbents, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio will be battling for the same job and will likely split the vote since they are both right-leaning, developer friendly and often vote in unison with Mayor Tory. Left-leaning Chiara Padovani has been mounting a solid campaign, canvassing extensively in old Ward 11 and from today will no doubt begin to make an impression on voters in old Ward 12.

If Ward 11 largely votes for Nunziata and Ward 12 for DiGiorgio, depending on the strength of the votes and the turnout, Padovani could scoop the progressive Ward 11 and 12 votes and come through the middle – even with a relatively small percentage of York South-Weston’s overall vote.

No doubt Ms. Padovani will join the chorus of protests at Doug Ford’s move to shrink council but it should work in her favour. Look for strategists on both incumbent teams to set their sights on Ms Padovani once campaigning gets under way in earnest. It won’t be pretty.

Ford disrupts Toronto Council

So it’s official; Doug Ford, disrupting in the style of Donald Trump, will soon present legislation to axe the number of Toronto wards from what would have been 47 to 25. Ford, looking confident and as if he is hitting his stride, made the announcement at a press conference this morning. Calling Toronto Council, ‘The most dysfunctional arena in the country’, he  revealed that city wards will be gone; instead, councillors will represent areas that are identical to federal / provincial ridings. After the next election, Wards 11 and 12 will be known as York South-Weston and represented by just one councillor.

Locally, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio represent York South-Weston at Council and one of those two will not be returning after October if they both choose to fight for the YSW seat.  Many other familiar faces will not be back after October. The bad news is that it might be harder to get in touch with a councillor who will now have twice as many constituents. On the plus side, a smaller number at council meetings will find the process of passing legislation quicker and easier. A smaller number will mean greater name recognition, scrutiny and accountability for individual councillors.

There will be a lot of people very disappointed with the decision. There will be worries about a loss of democracy and representation. There may be a legal challenge. The bottom line is that in Ontario, city councils are ‘creatures of  the province’ and the higher level of government holds sway.

I don’t think anyone will miss a larger council’s decisions despite the recent flurry of common sense legislation coming from the rotunda this week (apart from ShotSpotter). Frankly, the record of Toronto Council is lousy. These are the people who have brought us neglect and mismanagement of public housing and transit, a subservience to developers, a proposed one-stop subway, threadbare infrastructure and dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists. On that basis alone, at least half deserve to be turfed. Will fewer councillors produce a less democratic council? With many wards failing to achieve a 50% election turnout, probably no less democratic than it is today.

Nominations for council have been extended until Sept 14 but the election date will still be Oct 22.

ShotSpotter is a misguided response.

Apparently this unfortunately named thing is an expensive, microphone-based technology designed to triangulate on the sound of gunfire and pinpoint its location. The company responsible admits that its technology is only about 80% accurate in identifying gunfire yet charges a hefty amount for the installation plus an annual monitoring fee of around $300,000 for a city the size of Toronto.

Microphones throughout the community. From YouTube.

Councillor Frances Nunziata, the newest member Toronto’s Police Board was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, “We’re all fed up with gun violence” and, “It’s enough playing political games, we need to get this done”.  Ms Nunziata, in office since 1988 has herself played political games for decades by voting for low property taxes and against efforts to ease poverty. The results of the city’s collective failure to deal with poverty are becoming evident in Toronto’s recent surge in gun crime.

ShotSpotter is a technology that gets around the need to work with a community to report crime. Instead, it is imposed on them and treats a community as hostile by using the police as an occupying force.

Readers may be aware that Michael Tibollo, Ontario Minister of Community Safety has been heavily criticized for announcing that he donned a bulletproof vest and went on a Toronto Police night shift in the Jane / Finch area. (To their credit, Mayor Tory and Premier Ford chose to take the same excursion without the vests.) Not to be outdone, council self-promoter Giorgio Mammoliti got in on the act Friday, doing the same tour (Jane and Finch is in his ward) and seeking the protection of a vest. As of Saturday morning, there was no indication that the councillor had survived his ride-along. Mammoliti has been representing the people of Jane and Finch since 1995. Sadly, most of his efforts seem to go into self-promotion and erecting a giant flagpole rather than doing anything to help constituents.

The new minister and veteran Councillors Nunziata and  Mammoliti ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of people live and work in areas like Jane and Finch every day of the year yet have no protection from crimes and other dangerous random events. Minister Tibollo’s accusers have called him a racist but his ignorance of community safety issues does not bode well either.

As for ShotSpotter – it’s something that will allow the Police Board to say that they have done something but it’s largely ineffective. What is needed from our short sighted Police Board and Council, is money spent on citizen outreach so that police aren’t seen as an occupying force but rather the arm of every community in this city. That’s what will achieve results, not gimmickry. We also need money consistently spent on fixing public housing and anti-poverty programs, not one-time reactions to perceived crime waves.

Incidentally, ShotSpotter is listed on the Nasdaq exchange and its price has risen more than 54% in less than two months. Coincidence? With North America’s fourth largest city about to sign up, you be the judge. Let’s hope that decision-makers holding the stock have declared a conflict of interest.

 

Bike Workshop on Saturday

This Saturday, Cycle Toronto will host a one-hour workshop on basic bike maintenance at Weston’s treasure of a library on King Street. Rain or shine – meet in the library parking lot if the weather is fine and if not, the basement will be used. All ages welcome.

Numbers are limited so registration is required and can be done in person before Saturday or by phone at 416-394-1016. As of Tuesday, there was still room for a few more people.

Now if only we had some actual bike lanes in Weston / Mount Dennis! Over to you Councillor Nunziata.

10 Wilby apartments: zoning amendment and Section 37.

Toronto City Council and its local equivalent, Etobicoke York Community Council is a strange beast. Its decisions often leave people scratching their heads. This time they’ve managed to do something right. You’d think it was an election year or something.

On July 4, the Community Council dealt with rezoning the land at 10 Wilby. Readers may remember that non-profit builder, Options for Homes has proposed a 22-story, 233-unit condo apartment building at that location. OFH prides itself on making home ownership affordable. What they do is supplement an owner’s down-payment by up to $75,000 so that the mortgage is reduced. When the owner eventually sells, OFH gets back their contribution along with a proportional increase if the apartment has appreciated in value. As a tradeoff, features like swimming pools and gyms are eliminated so that prices are held down.

The address of 10 Wilby is an interesting one as it is at the top of the Humber Valley with potential access to parkland and the Pan Am Path. Our longer term residents may remember it as the former site of the Ministry of Transportation licence office.

The 10 Wilby site as it appears today. Hickory Tree curves around the corner. Wilby Crescent is on the left. The Humber Valley lies beyond the trees and informal (but steep) trails lead down to beautiful parkland, the river, the Humber footbridge and the Pan Am Path.

10 Wilby is above a curve in the river so views from the new building’s upper floors will be spectacular.

As an added bonus, Weston GO and UP Express stations are a short walk away.

From Toronto.ca

In order to erect a building on the smallish Wilby site, a land swap was arranged with the business opposite so that there was enough room to meet code requirements.  In rare and sensible use of Section 37 money, the Community Council on Wednesday approved rezoning and a plan that would see OFH donate and spend $800,000 in order to:

  • Make a cul-de-sac at the end of Wilby
  • Build a sidewalk along Wilby and connect it to Weston Road
  • Plant 25 new trees on the property and adjacent city land
  • Convert the Hickory Tree Road lands abutting the subject property to parkland conditions
  • Improve local parkland and connectivity of local parkland to the Humber River valley; and
  • Provide streetscape improvements along Wilby Crescent, Weston Road and Hickory Tree Road which comply with the Streetscape Manual and are to the satisfaction of the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning.
  • Perform an archeological study

The Community Council also thought it would be prudent to warn purchasers that local schools may not be able to accommodate pupils from the building.

The section of Hickory Tree Road that will be naturalized. The 10 Wilby site is on the right.
The proposed naturalization of the land opposite the site. From Toronto.ca

For readers who are puzzled by the site actually being on Hickory Tree Road yet having the 10 Wilby address; you’re not alone. The comments following this earlier article may help.

Incidentally, there was one dissenting vote opposing the rezoning amendment; that of Ward 7’s very own (and almost Brampton MPP), Giorgio Mammoliti.

Next stop, City Council on July 23.