Mount Dennis to become eco neighbourhood

Mount Dennis is trying on the idea of becoming an “Eco Neighbourhood” with the goal of being having a more  “resilient, livable, equitable, healthy, and prosperous future with a much smaller community environmental footprint”.

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The MDCA is looking at a plan that will include low-cost, high-impact activities like tree planting, markets, street events, and partnerships.

Remember Leonard Arthur

Able Seaman Leonard Arthur was from Mount Dennis. The 22-year-old son of Freeman and Alice died in the St Lawrence River when the HMCS Charlottetown was sunk on September 11, 1942. He died within sight of shore.

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A German U-Boat, the U-517, sank the Charlottetown in broad daylight as she was returning to base; it stalked Canadian ships in the Gulf of St Lawrence in September, 1942, sinking nine before she returned to Europe.

Most of the crew survived. Leonard Arthur was probably killed when the depth charges the boat was carrying exploded as the ship sank.

Arthur’s name, along with the names of 54 other young men from the community, is inscribed on the memorial plaque which hangs in Weston CI.


Thanks to Anne and the  Weston Alumni Association.

 

SmartTrack is at a fork

John Tory’s administration is releasing some of the proposals for the signature SmartTrack plan that pulled him into office. All of the proposals will affect Mount Dennis; some will affect Weston, too. There is a good chance, though, that none of them will come to pass.

The SmartTrack train will, according to Tory’s plan, run above- and under-ground in a U shape from roughly the airport, through downtown, and out to Unionville. Importantly, the original plan called for a sharp turn in Mount Dennis, and an impossible trip along Eglinton. It was a poorly thought out idea.Smarttrack

In February, City Council asked, among other things, for a rethink of the Mount Dennis section, and now that rethink has been released.

There are six proposals, each with deficits.

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The first proposals (1A, B, and C) run along the proposed (but not funded or built) Eglinton Crosstown route along Eglinton Avenue. They do not stop in Weston. They would have very serious, and sometimes deleterious, effects on Mount Dennis—including a train through the park at Eglinton Flats. They would also require adding two more tracks and a widening of the corridor from downtown.  On the other hand, Mount Dennis would get an excellent station that would connect cars, trains, LRTs and 12 bus routes.

In the second group of proposals, the original plan is abandoned, and the train instead runs north, through Weston, and out to the airport. These proposals are less disruptive to Mount Dennis, but would still require more tracks and “significant modifications to recent rail improvements in the Weston and Junction areas.”

There is also a lot of duplication in this plan. The UPX and GO Train already run all day from Weston to downtown, GO will likely run more often in the near future. SmartTrack through Weston, in other words, would provide a third way to get downtown on the same track corridor.

 

 

 

Hussen blows it.

The Federal election campaign has been running for, well, a whole campaign now and some strange things have been happening on the road to Ottawa.

Ahmed Hussen was the surprise nomination of the York South-Weston Liberals back in December last year. Many had expected YSW Liberal Riding executive Jules Kerlinger to be a nominee but he inexplicably withdrew from the race quite early and wouldn’t talk about it. Rumours were that he’d been invited to step aside by the Liberal Party but confirming those rumours proved elusive. Riding Association President, Ryan Ward was unable or unwilling to open up on the subject, referring me to Ottawa functionaries. Jules himself declined to respond.

Former Toronto councillor Bill Saundercook was then expected to get the nod but during the voting process, a strange turn of events took place. Large numbers of people came by the busload to vote and somehow, a bottleneck occurred at the membership and credential checking process. Late in the afternoon, with time pressing, organizers decided to close the polls before everyone was able to reach the voting booths. Outsiders shrugged and thought that this was simply business as usual for the Liberals.

Bill Saundercook.
Bill Saundercook confidently awaits the result at the nomination meeting.

The result of the vote that fateful day was a shock, not merely because a seeming long-shot had won but also because of the surprisingly small number of votes cast when compared to the huge numbers lined up – no doubt a result of the glacial pace of the voting line. The winner was a relative unknown, Ahmed Hussen but he had a well known local backer, George Smitherman.

As 2015 progressed, Mr. Hussen was seen at various events in York South-Weston and it was thought that his campaign was shaping up nicely. With a good tail wind from Justin Trudeau, he had a reasonable chance of winning the seat.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.
John Johnson (Green) and Mike Sullivan (NDP) tackle the issues.

There is usually one major debate in York South-Weston before an election. This is meticulously organized by an army of hard-working volunteers from one or more organizations in the riding who do what is necessary to hold a fair debate. Many of these people are politically active but not exclusively for any one party. On September 16, Mr. Hussen announced to organizers that he would not attend the debate. More recently, the candidate allegedly let it be known that he considered the debate to be partisan; skewed in favour of the NDP.

Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.
Moderator Judith Hayes listens to the candidates.

Knowing the scrupulous lengths to which organizers of these events go makes it clear that no party owns or controls these debates. To make the allegation even more fatuous, Liberal riding executive Jules Kerlinger was part of the proceedings and read audience questions to the candidates. Witnessing the event were former YSW Liberal MP, Alan Tonks and Liberal MPP Laura Albanese who would have quite correctly blown the whistle had anything underhanded been transpiring.

Jules Berlinger reads audience questions at last night's debate.
Jules Kerlinger reads audience questions at last night’s debate.

At this stage it should be mentioned that the Conservative Party candidate also failed to show up at the debate. This was neither a surprise nor much of a disappointment as it seems to be Party policy, especially in York South-Weston where the right-wing vote along with Tory candidates’ speaking skills are generally on the marginal side.

York South-Weston's democratic deficit.
York South-Weston’s democratic deficit.

One can only surmise that Mr Hussen’s sudden attack of shyness was not from a fear of entering some sort of NDP stronghold where he would be ambushed by frothing hordes of rabid lefties. The only conclusion that the public can come to is that he was woefully unprepared to respond to audience questions and decided to bolt. That alone is telling.

So much for the Big Red Wave. Thanks to Mr. Hussen, its now likely to be a trickle in this riding and YSW federal Liberals are facing four more years in the political wilderness. Perhaps the geniuses at Party HQ should have gone with Mr. Kerlinger after all.

Weston a dump? Not so much.

An interesting article in Toronto life ranks all of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods based on ten weighted categories such as affordable housing, crime, transit, shopping and so on that others more qualified can argue over. What matters is that perception is everything and outsiders have perceived Weston and Mount Dennis for that matter to be quickly improving places. You may remember that Mount Dennis came dead last in 2013.

Some notable local rankings (2013 ranking in brackets):

  • Humber Heights Westmount: 66 (112)
  • Weston: 75 (105)
  • Mount Dennis 93 (140)
  • Weston Pellam Park: 96 (125)
  • Kingsview Village The Westway: 136 (123)

Interestingly Edenbridge came in at 81 (81) and Lambton Baby Point at 82 (78).

Coming soon in a meeting whose location is yet to be determined, people will be explaining to the citizens of Weston that since we’re a dump, we shouldn’t expect nice things and that nobody wants to invest in anything too fancy here.

Perhaps they’re wrong.

MDCA asks Nunziata to save money on Gardiner

The Mount Dennis Community Association asked Frances Nunziata to not vote for the ‘hybrid option’ on the Gardiner Expressway.

In an open letter, the MDCA said “you plan to commit half a billion extra tax dollars by voting for the Gardiner Expressway Hybrid option. [Tearing it down] will add a few minutes travel time for people driving between the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway. We see this extra time as a very small price to pay for:

  • much better access to Toronto’s waterfront
  • a grand boulevard like University Avenue…
  • lower taxes in future”

The letter goes on to say that the money saved could be spent on infrastructure, schools, transit, or community programs. 

The final vote will happen later this afternoon. Frances Nunziata is widely expected to vote against the MDCA and in favour of the hybrid Gardiner, which will preserve most of the highway but lower the easternmost section.