A failure of politics in Ward 5.

Just 8 days after NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited residents of Rockcliffe-Smythe, another heavy rainfall inundated the area and a nasty sewage mix flooded many homes. It must be the last straw for families who were flooded as recently as last year. Last week, resident Franco Ruffolo despaired that his house is uninsurable and unsellable because of the regular flooding. Franco, and many others in Toronto and particularly in Ward 5, York South-Weston, constantly dread that heavy rain will lead to the inundation of their homes.

The problem stems from  the fact that as more of the city becomes paved over, runoff from roofs, driveways and streets is dumped directly into channels, rivers and storm sewers which in many parts of the city are combined with the sanitary sewers. This means that rainfall overloads the combined sewers leading to raw sewage being dumped into rivers and eventually into homes – City News.

From Bergen Counties Utility Authority.

In the Rockcliffe-Smythe area, the creek that used to flow naturally through the area (Black Creek) was channelled into a concrete straight jacket. Thanks to heavier rains and more buildings, the channel overflows occasionally with horrible yet predictable results. In other areas, the extra pressure on a combined sewer forces sewage up into homes through basement drains.

What can be done? We need to plant more trees, put up green roofs, divert downspouts so that runoff from roofs drains onto ground where it will be absorbed rather than piped directly into sewers. We also need to separate storm and sanitary sewers so that raw sewage stays out of people’s homes and our rivers and creeks. A few years ago, Toronto instituted a mandatory program to disconnect downspouts where possible. Most of all, we need politicians and agencies to actually do their job and work for the people.

Councillor Nunziata in the City News clip blames the TRCA for dragging its feet. The horrible flooding of six years ago should have propelled all actors in this tragedy to get their act together and do something. Sadly, the councillor even voted against an innovative hard surface charge that would have made homeowners pay for the hard surfaces covering their property. This revenue would have been directed towards flood relief but Giorgio Mammoliti framed it as a roof tax and Council (including Mayor Tory and Ms Nunziata) voted against it.

Perhaps it’s time for politicians and agencies to stop the blame game and actually do something. We can start by accelerating the separation of storm and sanitary sewers in priority areas. Holding tanks can reduce the flow in the meantime and planting trees would help. We also need Council to take this issue seriously.

That’s without even considering the bizarre and troubling sale of 8 acres of Rockcliffe-Smythe flood plain land to St Helen’s Meat Packers Limited for less than $4 million – with the support of Councillor Nunziata.

Incidentally, St Helen’s President Robert Bielak donated (the maximum allowed) $1200 to Ms Nunziata’s 2018 campaign.

As Brian Mulroney used to say, “You dance with those who brung you”.

Weston GO and UP Express numbers may drop

The UP Express at Weston Station. (file)

Back in 2011, Weston Web reported that the old Weston Station on John Street used to see about 450 trips daily (weekdays only). That would translate into about 225 people using the station.

Metrolinx published Weston’s passenger numbers for UP Ex and GO last April and they were up sharply thanks to a $1.50 subsidy for people making one journey using both the GO and TTC (courtesy of the Kathleen Wynne government). This was possible only for passengers using the much loved Presto Card.

The latest figures from April show that between April 2018 and January 2019, GO passenger numbers increased by 21% while UP Ex numbers were up 15.8%. Weston station sees about 1100 GO trips daily while UP Ex has about 940. That’s about 1000 people daily going through Weston Station which is a huge increase from the 225 in 2011.

With the recent announcement that the Ford government will drop the subsidy, there is concern that people will get back in their cars and drive.

Metrolinx claims it is willing to throw in 75¢ of the rebate if the city of Toronto will throw in the other half of the rebate but as usual, Toronto, in its 227th year of austerity, is pleading poverty.

Over to you Councillors Nunziata and Holyday.

 

Jagmeet Singh promises flood relief

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited York South-Weston today and heard from local residents about flooding issues in the riding. Accompanying Mr. Singh were many well known NDP faces in the area including MPP, Faisal Hassan, upcoming federal election candidate Yafet Tewelde and local organizer Chiara Padovani who conducted the tour. Mr Singh, an affable and attentive man spent a couple of hours in the area.

The leader walked from Rockcliffe Court to Hilldale Road to hear some of the issues that have not been dealt with despite years of local flooding. The recent sale of 8 acres of city owned flood plain land at 200 Rockcliffe Court exposed some of the less savoury aspects of decision making in our fair city.

The contentious land at 200 Rockcliffe.

The land was sold off to a meat packing plant in spite of residents’ objections. This is an area that routinely floods after a storm and where nearby, in a recent event, two men almost drowned in an elevator as water flooded the building they were in. Read more in this excellent article here.

Chiara Padovani talks about the controversial city decision to sell flood plain land to a meat packer.
Faisal Hassan, Jagmeet Singh and Yafet Tewelde listen to the 200 Rockcliffe story.
Jagmeet Singh and Yafet Tewelde greet Hilldale Road residents.

At Hilldale Road, local resident Franco Ruffolo opened his home to show the extent of flooding he and his neighbours have faced in the past few years. Franco showed some video of the water levels and damage that his property sustained and outlined the inadequate settlements from insurance companies. Residents in the area worry that insurance companies will no longer issue policies on their homes.

Franco Ruffolo shows Jagmeet Singh video of his home flooding.

Jagmeet Sing is proposing that instead of matching funds with the city and province, an NDP government would pay the whole cost of flood remediation work so that homeowners in flood prone areas are better protected and don’t need to wait for all three levels of government to agree. He is promising $2.5 billion to respond to disasters and support communities like York South – Weston to adapt their infrastructure to withstand floods and other extreme weather events.

The tour went off well and made some strong points. Mr. Singh delivered some concluding remarks at the end of his visit and then spoke live to the media.

Local candidate Yafet Tewelde added some remarks.

Canada Day fireworks over by 10 p.m.

For some reason, the Canada Day fireworks started about 15 minutes before their scheduled time of 10 p.m. last night. The show was all over before 10 p.m., taking some people by surprise and disappointing those who had planned to arrive just before the scheduled time.

Ahmed Hussen’s spokesperson told me that the MP was at the Amesbury fireworks there and couldn’t shed any light on the reasons for Weston’s early start. There was nobody available at Councillor Nunziata’s office when I called but will update any response received.

Whose party is it anyway?

July 1 preparations in Lions Park this morning.

Did you ever get an invitation to a party where you are footing the bill?

You have now. Toronto city councillor Frances Nunziata and MP Ahmed Hussen have sent invitations to ‘their’ party – that you are paying for.

Nunziata’s reads,

I am thrilled to co-host my first Amesbury Canada Day in Amesbury Park from 12-10PM. Mayor Tory will be stopping by for the fun. Flea market opens at 9 AM. Fireworks show at 9:45PM!

I am also hosting my annual Canada Day party in Weston Lions Park from 5-10:30 PM. Fireworks at 10 PM!

Bring your family for all the food, fun, and celebration!
I look forward to seeing you at one (or both!) of these exciting events!

Hussen’s goes like this,

I am hosting my annual Canada Day party at Weston Lions Park (Weston Road and Lawrence Ave W) from 5pm-10:30 PM. I warmly invite you to bring the whole family for an evening of food, fun, and celebration! There will be food trucks, inflatable rides, and entertainment for all. Be sure stick around for the fireworks show at 10 PM! I can’t wait to see everyone there!

At least MPP Faisal Hassan isn’t claiming credit for your Canada Day celebrations.

Let’s hope we’re not at the banana republic stage where politicians have to dispense largesse in order to stay in office.

Oh wait; Doug Ford. Peel me a $20!

Good news for Pan Am Trail cyclists.

The Pan Am Path passes through Weston, albeit grudgingly. Cyclists wishing to take the trail north of Cruickshank Park are forced to take a steep climb up the steps to the intersection of Weston and St. Phillips roads. In order to re-join the trail, a dangerous stretch of Weston Road must be traversed safely – from personal experience, this is no easy picnic.

The good news is that the multi use trail will have some new intersections as it crosses the Humber heading towards Dundas. Scarlett Road will be getting bike lanes along that stretch.

Looking south from Scarlett Rd and St Clair Ave W
The proposed new and improved intersection at Scarlett and Dundas.

The driving force for this comes from surveys and a public meeting held in late 2017 to discuss issues around the upgrading of the intersection at Scarlett and Dundas. Plans are to widen the space under the tracks and lower Scarlett to end the traffic bottleneck and height restrictions at that location. At the public meeting, among other things, the need for separated bike lanes was expressed. Plans were modified over the past year to include these as seen in the map and cross-section below.

Map of bike lane (cycle track) along Scarlett Road from the Humber River to just north St. Clair Avenue at Bernice Crescent. Options for cycling connections to Scarlett Road being considered for the future include Eileen Avenue to Pritchard Avenue or Eileen Avenue to Corbett Avenue.

A meeting to discuss the latest plans will be held early next week.

Date: Monday, April 29, 2019
Time: Drop in 6:30 to 9 p.m.. Presentation at 7 p.m.
Location: Lambton Park Community School, 50 Bernice Cres., Wheelchair accessible.

This meeting was requested by local Councillor Frances Nunziata who will be in attendance alongside Councillor Gord Perks.

For more details, click here.

Council to ask AGCO to yank licences after shootings

City Council will ask the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to pull the liquor licences of establishments that have “been the scene of gun violence or where patrons have been in the possession of handguns or where the police have found handguns on the premises”.

Frances Nunziata said that his measure is necessary because

They’re open all night, it turns into a booze can or it turns into an after hours club, and they party on the streets and the next thing you know there’s guns and there’s gun violence….

They suspend their license for two or three weeks, and then they reopen….

People are afraid to walk down the street when they have that amount of violence.

Start video at 1:24:00 if it doesn’t do so automatically.

I’m pretty sure none of this is true. I come home pretty late on Friday nights, and I often ride my bike from strangling class. Of course, I’m not everywhere all the time, but I’ve never once seen a party on the streets. (Nor have I seen guns or gun violence).

The data, such as they are, back me up. There have been two shootings in Weston in 2019. Neither happened after hours. One happened in broad daylight, outside a convenience store—perhaps we could pull their lottery-tickets?

Nunziata’s efforts to clamp down on gun violence should be applauded. But this is neither a real effort nor clamping down. It’s a waste of time.

Worse, it’s an embarrassing slander against our town. Nobody wants to live in a place like she describes—but her riding is nothing like she describes it.

If Nunziata were serious about preventing crime and keeping kids safe, she could have funded after-school programs at libraries.