Micallef calls out cycling in Weston

Would you feel safe cycling on busy Weston Road?

Freelance journalist Sean Micallef has written a column about the sorry state of cycling in Weston. He says, ““Home of the Bicycle” is a slogan found all around Weston, yet it’s one of the worst places in Toronto to ride a bike.” The article is in the Toronto Star behind a paywall but may be accessed at this link in Toronto.com.

In essence Micallef says that cycling is scary in Weston and is an equity issue according to area resident Christina Hoang.

We’ve been saying this for years at Weston Web. It’s nice to see others joining in.

Hassan calls for socialized elder care

Faisal Hassan, our MPP, said this week that he would like to “ban greedy profit driven corporations from the home care and long term care sector so that every dollar goes into better care, and better living.” [sic]

This is a gob-smackingly terrible idea.

I have a friend who thinks that profit is in some way immoral. Something about it—he can never explain what (to my satisfaction at least)—seems dishonourable. I think that Hassan probably feels the same: that making a buck from seniors is a bit underhanded.

But there is nothing—not spiders, eels, or sticky tape—that I would fear more as an old person than someone who isn’t interested in my money. When I retire, I hope to live in comfort, able to buy myself high-speed internet, beer deliveries, and a sweet private room where I can sleep in until 10. This is why I save money now, and I expect my eventual nursing home to earn that money by giving me what I want.

In other words, I expect them to profit. I hope they do.

Would you eat at a non-profit restaurant? Gross. Would you sleep in a non-profit hotel? No, thank you. I like my meals hot and my sheets cold, and when I pay for these things, I get them.

Forbidding profits in nursing homes would be just as bad an idea. At best, government could force providers to follow regulations rather than their own self interest. Residents would get what they want only if the providers were obligated or inclined to provide it. They might hope to get kindly workers, but they could never be sure of that affection by—horrors—paying for it.

We buy warmth and affection everywhere else in the hospitality sector. We should be able to buy it in elder care too.

Location Location Location

27 Brownville Avenue. From Google Maps.

According to legend, these are supposed to be the three most important factors when assessing a home’s value. There’s a home in Mount Dennis at 27 Brownville that is for sale for a hundred dollars shy of $600,000. The much complained about home has been vacant for years and is not safe to live in but the 30 x 92ft. lot is for sale. As an added incentive, the vendors will throw in a demolition permit obtained last year.

The value of the lot lies in the proximity to the new Mount Dennis Station on the Eglinton Crosstown Line or Line 5 as it will be known officially. The station that incorporates the old Kodak recreation building will be a short walk away when it opens in 2022. There is a railway theme to the home as it backs onto the UP Express, GO and CP tracks. That shouldn’t be an issue with good soundproofing. Whether or not the home is worth $600,000 will be decided by the market.

Check the listing here and read about the home’s troubled history here.

Ten years ago this month…

Suri Weinberg-Linsky speaking in support of Olympic Variety in September 2010 (file).

Here’s a little taste of what WestonWeb was covering a decade ago.

In September 2010, crime was a big issue with a rash of muggings and a double murder. Eighty people met in support of Olympic Variety in Weston Village. Have we settled down since then? I’d like to think so.

A Weston retirement home was coming under scrutiny – beginning a long saga that (we think) ended last year.

John Tory was about to referee a local mayoral debate for the 2010 civic election. Rob Ford, endorsed by then and current councillor Frances Nunziata was the surprise winner of that race. No doubt Tory foresaw his own 2014 candidacy at that meeting.

Lions Park’s soccer field was undergoing extensive preparations before being covered in artificial turf – it has proved to be an incredibly popular year-round attraction.

Urban Arts had completed a new mural and Toronto Council looked as if it would do something for Weston cyclists. Sadly a golden opportunity to build a path along the rail tracks was lost and ten years later the dangerous ‘Supercentre’ gap in the trail is still there.

Finally, speaking of rail tracks, the Clean Train Coalition (who successfully lobbied for an airport express station in Weston) was rallying in support of electric locomotives for the then unbuilt and unnamed UP Express. That dream is still a few years away although GO electrification plans will allegedly be developed by next year.

Walkers in Weston’s 2010 Pink Parade participate in the seventh annual Weekend to End Women’s Cancers. (file) Click to enlarge.

Race and income contribute to COVID rates, but questions remain

Weston, and the rest of the northwest part of the city, was disproportionately hurt by COVID. The city has released data that explain this a little: we are a poorer, browner neighbourhood. This explanation, though, doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Torontonians who identify as East Asian or white are affected at about one-sixth the rate of those who identify as any other race.

In York South–Weston, 55% of residents are a visible minority. About a quarter are Black, and another tenth are South- or Southeast Asian, all groups hit hard by COVID.

 

From the city

 

Income also plays a role. Poorer households are disproportionately affected—in fact, the poorest are affected at almost 7 times the rate of the richest. Weston is quite poor. The median income here is $53,000, compared to $74,000 for the province as a whole, and 60% of those in our riding make less than $40,000 a year.

From the city

But these charts miss the mark, of course. Unless a pale shade or thick wallet somehow repels a virus like garlic repels vampires, there is a crucial missing question: what about low income or being a visible minority leads to exposure? Our riding also has cheaper parking, more rivers, and worse takeout than most. Correlation is not causation. In this case, correlation cannot be causation. What is the cause?

There are many unanswered and more pointed questions:

  • Are Westonians living in smaller homes at higher densities?
  • Are elder care homes more common in the suburbs? Are they of a lower standard?
  • Did commuting workers on transit catch the bug on a bus?
  • Are workers here at jobs more likely to expose them to the virus? Why?

And if so, what are we going to do about it?

Farmers Market Opens for 2020

The 2020 Weston Farmers Market season got under way today in beautiful weather. As is normal for such season openers (usually in May), attendance seemed sparse and there was an added inconvenience for patrons to wait patiently until they were admitted into the market space.  The market, second oldest in the city, is in almost exactly the same place it occupied five years ago although narrower and today had fewer stalls.

For years, traders have insisted that the specially designed market area at the end of John Street was too small and wouldn’t withstand the weight of delivery vehicles. The B.I.A. saved the day with the solution to use the Toronto Parking Authority lot on the other side of the building.

For the last few years the market has used the highly visible UP Express and Weston Baptist Church parking lots. That option is off the table. Unfortunately, the location at the end of John Street is invisible to traffic passing along Weston Road and so it will be a challenge to lure fresh customers to the site. In addition, former anchor tenant and actual farmer, Joe Gaeta has moved elsewhere.

The entrance to the market on John street featuring new signs.

Patrons wait in line to be admitted.

The market cordoned off to allow for physical distancing.

Looking towards John Street, a panorama of the farmers market in almost the same location back in August 2015. Click to enlarge.

The much vaunted and intended home of the farmers market sits empty.

Because the market now occupies the parking spaces intended for use by people visiting the er, market, John Street was in effect one-way thanks to parked vehicles occupying the inbound lane. As patron numbers increase, parking will become a greater issue. Let’s hope that some of the kinks can be worked out quickly. Incidentally, Grandpa Ken’s was there today.

Extra credit: How the Weston Hub was financed here.

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.