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!

YSW NDP holds fundraiser

Yafet Tewelde is the York South-Weston New Democratic Party candidate running to unseat Liberal MP and Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen in October’s federal election. In a short upbeat speech yesterday, the candidate outlined the major platform planks and stressed that the riding is hungry for change after Liberals’ broken promises and ambiguous messaging on green energy. The event was held in a beautiful back yard overlooking the Humber in glorious weather.

Campaign Manager Riley Peterson asking for volunteers and donations before introducing the candidate.
Yafet Tewelde addresses supporters in a beautiful backyard setting on Saturday.

There’s a lot of time between now and voting day on October 29 but the local party seems ready, organized and enthusiastic.

York Memo students moving to Scarlett Heights

After the devastating fire(s) at York Memorial C.I., students have been accommodated in empty space at nearby George Harvey C.I. Despite the convenience of the temporary accommodation being so close, Memo students apparently weren’t happy sharing and so beginning in September, they will be moving to the former Scarlett Heights Academy at 15 Trehorne Drive in Etobicoke. This will be an added commute for the thousand or so staff and students but the school was empty and apart from repairs for some water damage, should be ready in September.

The routes from York Memo to Scarlett Heights. From Google Maps. Click to enlarge.

Walking that distance takes over an hour and cycling is too dangerous given our lack of cycle lanes. What this will do to Weston’s traffic and transit remains to be seen but fast food outlets in the Royal York Plaza will no doubt be pleased.

Sullivan documentary shines light on poverty.

Last night, former NDP MP Mike Sullivan presented a 45 minute documentary, created as part of his masters degree work at York University. The documentary, entitled, ‘Being poor makes you poorer’, focussed on the plight of the poor, with appearances by ACORN Canada activists, Ebony Menzies and Jeffrey Stern who are on the Ontario Disability Support Program. Also in the documentary were Toronto Danforth NDP MPP Peter Tabuns and poverty activist John Clarke.

Yafet Tewelde, York South-Weston’s federal NDP candidate in the upcoming election attended and took part in the question and answer sessions.

Mike Sullivan, Yafet Tewelde, Ebony Menzies and Jeffrey Stern take questions from the audience.

Sullivan said his focus was originally going to be the Carbon Tax and its effect on the poor but then it expanded to cover other areas of concern such as the banking industry, payday loans, food banks, car insurance and the rising cost of living.

The event was organized by Riley Peterson who is Yafet Tewelde’s campaign manager.

York Memorial C.I. gutted in 6-alarm blaze.

Image result for york memorial c.i.
From Toronto District School Board.

A second, devastating fire has gutted the main, 90 year-old building of York Memorial C.I.. A huge plume of smoke was seen over the old City of York today, 24 hours after a smaller fire was discovered and extinguished.

Staff and students had been spending the day at George Harvey C.I. on Keele but were sent home after smoke from the fire hit dangerous levels. Fire Chief Matthew Pegg described the damage to the 90 year-old school as major but believes that the more recent additions containing the library and pool can be saved. Chief Pegg called today’s fire ‘separate and distinct’ and ordered the use of foam in order to suppress and starve the fire. He stated that a 6-alarm fire response is almost unprecedented in Toronto’s history.

High smoke levels were experienced south of Eglinton from Trethewey to Bicknell and firefighters went door to door advising residents to leave.

After yesterday’s fire, a security team was left behind to monitor the building but somehow, a different fire began today.

According to 12 Division’s Superintendent Ron Taverner the first fire was thought of as suspicious – he would not speculate on the probable cause of the second.

This month, the school was set to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its opening in 1929 as a memorial to soldiers who fought in the First World War. The building is currently home to 900 students (none of whom were in attendance today) and contains many artifacts and unique structures. These are feared to be lost as a result of the blaze.

Councillor Frances Nunziata was at the fire scene along with Mayor Tory. Nunziata said that she hopes that the school can be rebuilt inside while salvaging whatever is left. She said there will need to be a lot of healing in the next few months.

The only good result from today is that there were zero casualties.

Subways, Subways, Subways!

Here in Greater Weston™, a whole other set of politicians cater to our needs. Our MPP on this side of the river (Etobicoke Centre) is Kinga Surma . In her latest flyer, she announces, ‘The government is tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown’.

She continues,

“Since I have been the MPP for Etobicoke Centre, I made a commitment to all of you that I would fight to tunnel the Eglinton Crosstown to the airport. Since last June, I met with the Premier, the Minister of Transportation and Metrolinx to emphasize the importance of providing Etobicoke residents with fast, reliable public transit; one that did not add to the congestion on Eglinton. We worked together for months to plan and budget a regional transportation system; something the residents of Etobicoke, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area have been waiting for.

We are tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown and we are building subways!

I will always fight for the people of Etobicoke Centre.

I want to thank you for your support throughout this process.”

Although Premier Ford has made it clear that tunnelling the westward extension of the Eglinton Crosstown is his preferred option, I can’t recall a government announcement that such a decision has been made.

If this is a done deal, there’s going to be a whole lot of money and time needed – plus some razzle dazzle from the Premier himself. Oh and perhaps the slight formality of an updated environmental assessment, further community consultation and finding the ‘efficiencies’ that will finance this endeavour.

Lastly, if Doug Ford doesn’t win the next Ontario general election in 2022, will appeasing Tory voters along the Eglinton corridor be on the next government’s priority list? It’s doubtful, so let’s not get too excited.

Sadly, transit decisions in this city and province are still made through election campaign napkin planning.

The Future Of Full Day Kindergarten Remains To Be Seen

Weston kindergarten students and parents should keep their eyes on the Ford Government. Most recently, they have decided to reevaluate the full day kindergarten program.This program has been in place since 2014. It’s introduction lightened financial burdens on parents, especially those in low income households, by eliminating the need for private daycare and shifting those costs to the government. The current government has promised to keep the program in place until the end of the 2019-2020 school year, but after that it will be looking at reevaluating the situation. The program is an expensive one, at approximately $1.5 billion per year (according to CTV News).Ford, in a press conference on Wednesday, said that “any decision that’s made is going to be better,” regarding the future of full day kindergarten.

In speaking to one Weston parent, they made the connection that implementing full day kindergarten was a “lengthy and thought out process” and that the future of the program should be as well. If the program gets cancelled, and some of that goes to paying a deficit but other parts go into fixing other issues [like oversized classrooms] within our education system then that seems suitable.” Some options the government may consider are subsidies for low income families who will require daycare, as well as evaluating how much time and money will be spent should this program change and whether this is feasible. This announcement also comes on the heels of the PC Government considering removing class cap sizes from kindergarten and primary grades.

Ford has made it clear that there will be consultations regarding full day kindergarten, so keep an eye open for that. You can also call our MPP Faisal Hassan and let his office know how you feel about this development.