No; look over here.

There’s a couple of news items that have surfaced lately. One is a notorious chair throwing incident and another is a Metrolinx promise to a community.

Which is garnering the most attention?

Which is of greater consequence?

In February 2019, aspiring media celebrity Marcella Zoia, a teenager at the time, threw a folding chair from a downtown high rise. For some reason, the video of the incident was posted to social media and all hell broke loose. The press has given huge amounts of attention to the feckless Ms. Zoia’s case, hounding her during several court appearances where she eventually coughed up a guilty plea. After her sentencing (a hefty fine and community service), hanging judge John Tory has chimed in to  to say that Ms. Zoia (AKA Chair Girl) should have gone to jail. Apparently the mayor believes that without the deterrence of a jail term, others will be inspired to fling furniture from tall buildings – where will it all end? Mayor Tory had no hesitation in criticizing the work of Justice Mara Greene who wisely ignored the Crown’s recommendation of a 6-month jail term. Let’s not get into the purposes of jail but suffice to say that it should be reserved for violent offenders rather than idiotic teens. This isn’t Georgia or Alabama.

Let’s take a moment to be grateful that the mayor is in a position where he is relatively inconsequential and move on to another news item.

In this story, Councillor Anthony Peruzza is complaining that Metrolinx is breaking a promise to donate a chunk of land in the Finch Avenue West and Yorkgate Boulevard area for the purpose of building a community hub. Here, you’ll not find hordes of reporters breathlessly pursuing Metrolinx executives for an answer. Lazy members of the press and Mayor Tory find items like this tedious. There are no dramatic foot chases no videos and no public outrage. Metrolinx spokesperson Anne-Marie Aikins says that Metrolinx cannot donate land to the City but indicated that there’s lots of time. to work something out. Translation: there’s time for the public to lose interest and for the story to be buried.

Sadly, that sums up the news cycle these days. Councillor Peruzza represents one of the poorest wards in the city and instead of government agencies joining forces to build up an impoverished community, they conspire to work against it. The press largely doesn’t care.

This is reminiscent of the Toronto Parking Authority sale of the 16 John Street parking lot in Weston, a piece of land that once belonged to the old town of Weston (in another one of the poorest wards in the city) and which could have formed the heart of a stand-alone Weston Hub. It wasn’t to be. People were seduced by the promise of a glitzy new home for the Weston Farmers Market along with community space and live/work artist accommodations. Council was swayed by the next-to-zero cost and the only downside was to be a 30-storey tower and podium, something not envisioned by Toronto’s 2011 feasibility study.

The original spacious home of the Weston Farmers Market. (From Google Earth)
The intended home of the Weston Farmers Market. File.

When the Weston Farmers Market opens a week on Saturday (August 1), it won’t be convening in the space that was a big part of the selling job.

One of the concept drawings of the farmers market.

Apparently traders don’t want to use it because it’s too small and their trucks (which they need close by) would damage the paving.

The new home of the Weston Farmers Market (Google Earth).

No, the market’s going back to almost the exact location where it began on John Street. The ample parking promised for the farmers market turns out to be the new market space itself. The space is larger than the fancy concept one and the paving can withstand trucks. If instead of selling the parking lot, the Toronto Parking Authority (a branch of city council) had donated the land to the community, things could have turned out differently. Sadly the press was focussed on other things and the public was seduced by fancy drawings. That’s the nature of news these days.

Maybe we can invite Marcella Zoia to cut the ribbon on August 1st.

Another food outlet for Weston

The site of the new Church’s Texas Chicken in 2018. (file)

Atlanta based Church’s Texas Chicken (formerly known as Church’s Chicken) will soon have a franchisee occupying the old Bank of Montreal building (the bank where time stood still™) on Weston at John Street. It will be a stone’s throw from the Popeye’s Chicken just up the street and directly across from P&M Restaurant. Close by are Pizza Pizza and Zeal Burgers to name but a few. Yet another food outlet in a small area seems to be a gamble on the part of the chain but at least it’s one less prominently empty building in Weston.

Church’s will begin renovations after July 1st when they take over the building.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the exterior of the old 1906 building constructed for the Bank of British North America. It was in continuous use as a bank for over a century, gaining the Bank of Montreal name in 1918 when the two banks merged.

Let’s hope the exterior renovation won’t be too garish. Perhaps the Weston Historical Society knows when and why the second storey was removed. The brick building further along John Street looks to be where Peter the Barber’s is today. Could it be the same building?

The bank building during construction in 1906. Adapted from the Toronto Public Library image. (Click to enlarge)

Weston and Lawrence electrical work.

Weston and Lawrence electrical work.

Weston and Lawrence is being dug up again; this time it’s electrical work to upgrade power for the upcoming electrification of GO train service.

According to Toronto Hydro, “Please be advised that Toronto Hydro is planning to rebuild and relocate the overhead and underground electrical system in the community in preparation for the GO Expansion Electrification program.” The timeline is a vague June-July 2020.

Thanks to Covid-19, the restriction to one lane of traffic along both routes isn’t causing major upheavals.

I wonder if workers have discovered any artifacts at this (for Toronto) relatively ancient intersection.

Gaeta Farms open for planting season.

Take a trip to Grimsby and on Mud Street West in a place called Grassie (really), you will find some familiar faces. Joe Gaeta who used to sell his produce at the Weston Farmers Market has a family run nursery and farm there and is now open for business with an excellent variety of vegetables, annuals and hanging baskets. Joe wasn’t there yesterday but his wife Olga and daughter Sabrina were.

Olga and Sabrina Gaeta at their family farm in Grimsby.

If the drive to Grimsby is a bit far, you’ll (hopefully soon) find Joe and his family on Saturdays at the Humber Bay Shores Farmers Market or on Sundays at the Eglinton Way BIA Farmers Market  – 125 Burnaby Boulevard (Eglinton near Bathurst).

Note that at the moment all Toronto’s farmers markets are closed – Weston’s until July 4th at the earliest.

Gaeta Farms and Greenhouses is at 174 Mud St. West, Grimsby, Ontario L0R 1M0.

ActiveTO Quiet Streets launch dead on arrival.

Toronto the Careful™ has struck again.

Call me jaded but the plan to open up Toronto’s streets to pedestrians and cyclists seems to be (like most council actions in our fair city) massively underwhelming and certainly in Ward 5 the selection of streets doesn’t seem to address the spirit of the initiative. The idea was to ensure that, “people have space to get around on sidewalks while respecting physical distancing“. 

57 km or a minuscule 1.7% of Toronto’s 3,322 km of neighbourhood streets (excludes expressways, arterial and collector roads) will be temporarily signed and barricaded off to all but local traffic. York South-Weston is giving this treatment to 3.7 kilometres of its streets. Sadly none are in Weston or Mount Dennis.

The Ward 5 closed off streets will be:

StreetFromToLength
Bicknell AveRogers RdEglinton Ave 0.9 km
Silverthorn AveSt. Clair Ave WDonald Ave 

Total of 2.8 km

Donald AveSilverthorn AveHaverson Blvd
Haverson BlvdDonald AveCameron Ave
Blackthorn AveCameron AveEglinton Ave W

Source: Councillor Nunziata’s May 13 COVID Update.

Council felt the need to do something, and something, albeit timid and careful has been done. At least they restrained themselves from calling it a pilot. Additional streets will be considered ‘thereafter’.

The affected streets are shown with red dotted lines. Click to enlarge. Adapted from Google Maps.

According to Councillor Nunziata’s update, the criteria for selection of these streets was, “…several factors including, but not limited to, population density, equity, access to greenspace, car ownership rates, and traffic volumes.“. The councillor’s selection appears to be entirely inside her newly acquired constituency – Frank DiGiorgio’s  former Ward 12 so perhaps this is a little nod to them.

Incidentally, all but one of the selected streets have sidewalks on both sides so it’s hard to imagine crowds of people jostling for space.

Looking south from where Blackthorn Ave and Haverson Blvd meet at Cameron Ave. From Google Maps.

Readers are invited to suggest locations in Weston and Mount Dennis that might be more suitable. We will forward them to the councillor for future consideration.

Update: The city has published their list of ‘Quiet Streets’ and the Ward 5 selections are nowhere to be seen.

Westmount Army and Navy seeks help.

Westmount Army and Navy Club.

Westmount Army and Navy Club has been around since 1938. It’s at 41 Kingdom Street off Scarlett Road just across the river in Greater Weston™. The idea of the club is to support veterans, family and friends along with the local community. They were serving the community before and after World War II and the Korean War and in 1954 the club became a refuge and coordination centre in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.

Nowadays, the club acts as a meeting spot for many in the community and members can enjoy a quiet drink while playing darts, cards, shuffleboard and the like. The club is occasionally rented for special events but COVID-19 has put paid to all of that.

Since closing on March 18th, revenue has stopped, vital maintenance work is ongoing and the utility bills keep coming. The club is entirely self-supporting and relies on nothing else.

The club is asking for community support through a gofundme campaign that if successful, will see them through the lockdown and help them get ready for their eventual re-opening when they can once again serve the community.

Find the gofundme link here.

Parks: leash free, play and exercise areas closed.

As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, Mayor Tory has acted to discourage groups of people hanging out together in Toronto’s parks.

From the city’s site:

“All City-owned playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other parks amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system, are closed.”

This may be in response to reports of people not maintaining a sufficient distance.

Read more about affected city services here.

In New York, they are considering similar measures but to compensate, will close some streets to (already greatly reduced) traffic so that people will have more places to get some fresh air.