Weston: Then and Now (Part I)

Natalie takes photos of early-to-mid-1900-Weston, originally posted on the TPL site, then finds the exact (or somewhat exact) location in present-day-Weston and allows you to take a peek at the continuity of human development.

Click to enlarge, and click ‘view full size’ for HD photos.

If any readers have photos they wish to contribute, please send them to [email protected] (photo credit will be given).


This post is brought to you by:

Luisa Bada, Sales Representative, Spectrum Realty Services Inc. Brokerage;  like you, living in Weston and loving it.

Mt Dennis art project sparks discussion

A controversial Mount Dennis $250,000 art project is finished and was unveiled last night.

“Nyctophilia” is a collection of streetlamps with bulbs of different colours—and in the daytime at least, it’s not pretty. Mike Sullivan, our MP, was a bit indirect in his criticism, but his comment “wherearethetrees” sums up, I’m sure, the critics who think that this art is too urban in an already urban place.

mike

 

But then look at this, a picture from the new proprietor of the Super Coffee shop in Mount Dennis

Or this one from TorontoSavvy

That’s not bad, not bad at all!

Maybe I’m stretching a bit here, but I think this art is ugly and urban and hides its potential—only to transform  overnight into something beautiful and a little startling.

I think it fits right in in Weston—Mount Dennis.

 

Thanks to KR for the tip.

Pan Am Path extension officially opens

Urban Arts entertains the crowd.
Urban Arts entertains the crowd.

Another link officially opened today in a major step towards completion of the much anticipated Pan Am Path. This 84km path is being created by linking existing shorter trails and will eventually allow pedestrians and cyclists to move from Brampton to Pickering without encountering motor vehicles. After the ceremony, a Jane’s Walk took pedestrians along the path and a group of cyclists followed later. Bike Share Toronto (formerly Bixi) had bikes for those wishing to try the new link. Dynamic youth support organization UrbanArts provided music and an art activity for the celebration.

Urban Arts art activity.
Urban Arts art activity.

One of the more distasteful aspects of these events is the unseemly scramble for credit. Political representatives from all three levels of government were jockeying for position. Freshly re-elected MPP Laura Albanese announced a $400,000 grant from the Trillium Foundation to be spent on projects covering the length of the trail (strangely the Trillium Foundation site has no trace of this in their list of grants). Councillor Frances Nunziata announced (again) the $48,000 worth of exercise equipment to be installed in Cruickshank Park (well before the Council election in October no doubt). This money was extracted from several developers in exchange for Council concessions. Another guest speaker, Etobicoke Centre Tory MP Ted Opitz prattled on about his support for the path despite the Federal Government contribution of precisely zero to this project. It takes some nerve to remove protection from the Humber River (as the Tories have done) and then bask in the glory of others’ work. Then again, there will be a federal election by October 2015 at the latest. Right leaning mayoral hopeful Karen Stintz was in attendance but mercifully kept a low profile (until the ribbon cutting). Incredibly, our own MP Mike Sullivan told me he was not invited and therefore didn’t get to speak. Organizers from Friends of the Pan Am Path claimed there had been an oversight.

Brent Chamberlain and Frances Nunziata cut the ribbon.
Brent Chamberlain (Friends of the Pan Am Path) and Frances Nunziata (with scissors) cut the ribbon.

Rail safety improvements on track

The Feds have promised that the dangerous rail cars that caused the Lac Mégantic disaster—and which run through Weston—will be phased out or fixed up.

DOT-111 railcars carry petroleum and other dangerous goods, and are an old technology. They are easily punctured and allow dangerous pressure to build up. The United States is also drafting regulations to reduce their use.

The Transportation Safety Board made recommendations after the Lac Mégantic disaster, and, according to the Globe, the new requirements are based on them.

Trains carrying dangerous goods won’t be rerouted around cities, according to CBC Radio. They will have a speed limit of 80 km/h—although the train in Lac Mégantic was going much slower than that: around 20 km.h.

Mike Sullivan is hosting a meeting on rail safety tonight at 7 at the York Civic Centre. Officials from Transport Canada will be on hand.

DOT-111 car
DOT-111 car

Environmental assessment for electrification complete

Metrolinx has released the environmental assessment for the proposed electrification of the UP Express. You can comment on the plans for the next 30 days.

Highlights:

  • Despite assurances that the diesel trains are low-emission, “air quality within the UP Express corridor will improve” when they are converted to electrical, even accounting for extra the power generation.
    • But the difference might be small. Diesel trains will consume about 140 L of fuel passing through Weston each day.
  • It doesn’t look like the electrification will result in any additional expropriations in Weston.
  • There are plans for a new station in Mount Dennis.
  • Construction will, of course, be irritating, and will last two to three years
  • The Humber River bridge is culturally significant for its history, engineering, and importance to the community.
  • Electric trains will be no noisier than diesel trains. They might be quieter.

Weston to remain a priority neighbourhood

For better or for worse, Weston will remain a “priority neighbourhood” when City Council votes next week. The designation dings our reputation but brings in pots of money for infrastructure, outreach, and youth.

The city’s Community Development Committee approved a report on Monday that renames priority neighbourhoods “neighbourhood improvement areas” and re-evaluates Toronto’s communities according to new criteria. Weston and Mount Dennis are in good company—almost a quarter of the city’s 140 neighbourhoods are now improvement areas.

The new criteria measure economic opportunity, social development, health, political engagement, and physical surroundings; and they confirm what you already know: rich people live downtown and north of the city. Less rich people don’t.

Weston benefits from this report, though—and in unexpected ways. Oddly, the city split Weston into two parts: Weston and Pelmo. The division is unnatural but works to our advantage: Weston qualifies for improvement funding because it is not pulled up by Pelmo, which scores higher.

Toronto neighbourhoods were given grades between 0 and 100. The cutoff for neighbourhood funding is 43.

Our neighbourhoods’ final grades were:

  • 26 for Mount Dennis, the third lowest in the city
  • 36 for Weston
  • 54 for Pelmo

Weston got particularly low marks in:

  • High school and postsecondary graduation rates
  • Social assistance rates
  • Premature mortality

Pelmo Park, bizarrely, gets a red card for walkability. It gets another for post-secondary graduation rates.

Mount Dennis gets red cards for

  • Unemployment
  • Social assistance rates
  • High school and post secondary graduation
  • Municipal voting
  • Meeting places
  • Walkability, bizarrely
  • Preventable hospitalizations

Now, dear reader, before you rend your garments and gnash teeth, ask yourself whether these things matter to you. These are not indicators of how nice a neighbourhood is. That Weston has a high diabetes rate doesn’t make me or you any more likely to get diabetes, nor does it make a bit of difference to walking your dog, having a barbeque, or raising your kids.

Also, the criteria are stacked against us and all suburbs. Walkability, for instance, is measured by how close you are to commercial areas, not how nice your neighbourhood is to actually walk in. Social assistance rates, too, are higher in the burbs because poor people find it hard to pay rent downtown, where housing is scarce and rents are high.

Nor should some other criteria be interpreted as Weston’s failings. I think that WMD is poor because poor people live here, not because we have all become poor. Sure, we don’t have Kodak or CCM, but Toronto is a short train ride away. It’s easy to have a high-paying job and live in Weston.

Our neighbourhoods are poor for another reason—because they are nice places for poor people to live. And I’m going to wager that post secondary graduation rates are likely to be lower where there are poor people and new immigrants who may find it hard to pay for school. That’s a failing, to be sure, but it’s not Weston’s failing.

Finally, some very important things were not considered. There are no marks for good transit or commute times, even in the measurements of infrastructure. Nor are marks deducted for crime—which would have punished downtown, where assaults and robberies are most common.

Happily, there are no grades for restaurants and coffee shops either, probably the only area where Weston has long and truly failed.

I’m sure many people will see our label as a mark. I, for one, don’t. Our label will entitle us to redistributed money from downtown, for which we should be happy, and grateful, not ashamed.

Sullivan picks up the slack left by the city.

Mike Sullivan says he went to his councillor for help; got nowhere and ended up doing the job himself.

After the latest storm to hit York South-Weston, a political one may be brewing. While out canvassing on march 14, Sullivan observed that the only working sidewalk under the Lawrence Avenue rail bridge was in a dangerous condition. Federal Member of Parliament Mike Sullivan is the opposition deputy critic for persons with disabilities and thought that even with the stretched resources of the city, after two days, something should have been done. According to Sullivan, he left a message with his councillor Frances Nunziata and after waiting a few hours with no action, Sullivan and his assistant Branden Valente did the job themselves. Sullivan described the process in the video below and is openly critical of the level of service given to York South-Weston which is a Priority Neighbourhood. While there’s no love lost between the two representatives, Sullivan’s action will resonate with those who feel that York South-Weston has been neglected for years.