Mount Dennis was in the news this week, with a flattering portrait by David Nickle.
Robert Caplan is optimistic about the future of Mount Dennis — and has been for a long time now, even as he admits that right now, the sparse business district at Weston Rd. and Eglinton Ave. W. is not much to look at.
That may soon change. In 2021, the Mount Dennis station on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is slated to open and the owners of the rundown storefronts along Weston will almost certainly make some modifications.
But for now?
“The whole street is waiting for the development to happen — to see what’s going to happen,” said Caplan, who owns Caplan Appliances and is chair of the Mount Dennis Business Improvement Area (BIA).
Only a month ago, The Star published an article that said Mount Dennis is the “most affordable area of the city”.
The short story: everybody is on board for a more prosperous, better-connected Mount Dennis. Alex Bozikovic wrote in the Globe:
Spread new growth across the neighbourhood. Focus on jobs and mix up jobs with some housing. Bring lots of people to live near transit. It sounds simple, but would require some changes to the city’s usual planning approach.
Interestingly, many locals are on board with this agenda. Mike Mattos, who heads the Mount Dennis Community Association, says the group largely welcomes the ULI proposals and, in places, development. “We need more people in the area,” he told me. “We don’t think the retail strip is going to survive with the current population. And we need more of the right kinds of jobs.” With all that, and some inventive policy, this could become a more prosperous place without becoming any less interesting.
The Kitchener GO line will soon have a new stop at the Woodbine racetrack. The stop will be paid for by the owners of Woodbine, and it will replace the Etobicoke North station.
Metrolinx has said that the UP Express eventually may stop at Woodbine station, though no plans were announced this week. This would be great for Weston; the more that commuters use the line, the less likely we are to lose our stop–and that’s a concern because the train will stop at the new Mount Dennis transit hub.
Frances Nunziata voted against building 18 youth hubs, including one in Mount Dennis, at City Council this week.
The hubs already run at 10 libraries across the city. Each costs about $130,000 a year. Included are a dedicated staff member, and “laptops, iPads, MacBooks, digital cameras, DJ equipment, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, gaming equipment (PlayStation, Xbox and Wii), board games, and more!”
They offer homework and employment help, workshops, and a place to de-stress.
According to The Star:
“The youth spaces that exist now have proven to be wildly popular.
A briefing note released by library staff earlier this year showed the number of visits to its youth hubs nearly doubled from 2016. That bump, staff said, is because new hubs became available — meaning the more youth hubs the city built, the more youth showed up.
A 2016 survey of participants found more than 70 per cent felt the program increased their feeling of safety and that they felt comfortable asking staff for help, the briefing note says.”
A couple of posts ago, I asked if anyone had data on the poverty in Weston. You can all put your calculating machines away. I think I’ve done it.
I’d heard for ages that Weston is the second-poorest postal code in Ontario. I confess, I was sceptical, since I heard this very same second-poorest thing when I lived in a bad part of Vancouver. That struck me as too odd a coincidence. I know I like neighbourhoods that are a little rough around the edges, but really.
And, it turns out, I was right. We don’t live in the second poorest. We live in the 40th poorest.
Don’t get smug, though. That’s still really bad. Weston is poorer than 92% of the rest of Ontario. The average Westonian makes $33,422, while the average Ontarian makes $54,000.
To make the comparison, I downloaded 2015 tax data (the most recent year available) from Revenue Canada. Obviously, we don’t all live in a single postal code, but we live in a single FSA—a Forward Sortation Area: M9N. (Mount Dennis shares M6M with a few other communities.) I eliminated all the FSAs that didn’t start with L, M, N, K, or P, the postal codes for Ontario.
With a bit of Excelling, I came up with the following:
Mount Dennis is in the 21st-poorest region in Ontario, poorer than 95% of all postal codes.
Weston is the 40th poorest region, poorer than 92%.
The poorest area is Thorncliffe Park, Toronto, and part of Jane and Finch is the second-poorest. Residents there make less than $25,000 per person per year.
Lawrence Park has the highest-income residents. They make $212,000 a year, per person.