Another idea for Weston / Mount Dennis

Like Weston and Mount Dennis, Parkdale was devastated by changing circumstances in the 1950s and 1960s. Recently, Parkdale has been gentrifying and residents have formed the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust in order to have some control over the current boom in development.

Last month using fundraising and grants, the trust purchased land that had been denied building permits. The Trust had already received permission to garden on the 5000 square foot site. Ownership will mean that future gardening at that location is guaranteed.

More details here.

What’s happening to Weston Station?

In the two years that Weston UP Express Station has been open, a sharp deterioration in landscaping and service has occurred. The station provides a vital first impression for people passing through Weston and it’s beginning to look tired. If this is an attempt to save money since fares were lowered, it’s definitely a false economy and reflects badly on our community.

The station just before it opened in June 2015.
Dead trees and weeds blight Weston Station in 2017
Looking towards the Lawrence footbridge in 2015.
Empty planters in 2017.
Weston Station bike racks 2017.

Are vandals removing plants from flower beds? They certainly aren’t planting the weeds.

One more thing. The station was once open while trains were running but is now locked up tight between 10:30 am and 3:30 pm and closed altogether on weekends. This is a reduction in service and Weston deserves better. People with mobility concerns needing to use the elevator may think they are out of luck if trains are running and the station is closed. Surely a way could be found to keep the station open. At one time, there was talk of a coffee shop in the station. What happened to that idea?

Go away.

The other middle stop along the line, Bloor Station is open during these same hours and on weekends although counter service follows similar hours as in the image above.

Why is Weston treated this badly? Presumably because Metrolinx thinks that nobody cares. Is that true? Metrolinx and our local representatives need to know that this is wrong. The reason we have a station is because people let politicians know that it was important. If Metrolinx is allowed to neglect the station to the point where people stop using it, that will put it in danger of closing.

Perhaps that’s the plan.

Interim CEO, John Jensen, Metrolinx’s former chief capital officer needs to know about this. He could fix this tomorrow.

Metrolinx Web Feedback here. Phone: 416-869-3300

Councillor Frances Nunziata: Phone: 416-392-4091

MPP Laura Albanese: Phone: 416-243-7984

MP Ahmed Hussen: Phone: 416-656-2526

Update: Scott Money from Metrolinx says,

“Thank you for bringing forward your concerns about the landscaping at Weston GO station. Our operations team is looking into this right away and will fix any landscaping issues at the station as soon as possible.

The operating hours at Weston Go station have remained consistent since the station opened.”

I have asked Scott why there is a difference in treatment between the Weston and Bloor stations and will publish the response when it arrives.

Overhead Wiring is so Third World.

Overhead wiring detracts from our streetscape and especially from heritage buildings like our beautiful library.

Weston, like many parts of the third world – oh and also Toronto – is plagued with overhead wiring. It’s completely unnecessary since there are no streetcars in Weston. It’s in fact a false economy on the part of power and communications companies.

In the winter of 2013, the city was shut down for days because an ice storm downed a lot of overhead wiring. More than 300,000 Toronto households were affected. The cost to individuals, the city and the economy was enormous and clean-up costs alone were estimated at over $100,000,000 at the time. Don’t blame the trees; many Toronto trees had been weakened thanks to pruning to accommodate wiring!

The adjacent city of Mississauga was minimally affected because their wiring is buried safely underground.

The 2013 ice storm cost Toronto dearly. From cbc.ca

Overhead wiring is a danger during ice storms and traffic collisions but there is an aesthetic consideration too. What is the effect of wiring on our streetscape?

Take a look at our beautiful Arts and Crafts library without overhead wires (courtesy of a quick Photoshop job). The building can be appreciated in all its glory without unsightly wiring.

Photoshop did what the city and utilities won’t.

Overhead wiring and transportation have one thing in common. The city and utilities should have been tackling them for decades but in Toronto, there is always a lack of money thanks to the short-sighted obsession with keeping property taxes below the rate of inflation. Interestingly, this same obsession doesn’t apply to salaries for the mayor and councillors as their paycheques are automatically linked to the rate of inflation. Nice.

Oh, by the way, yesterday’s photo reveals that the library needs new shingles. Probably cheaper than a leaky roof but then that’s not the Toronto way, is it?

An idea for Weston?

Dunnville Ontario is a small town on the Grand River near Lake Erie. They are commemorating local war heroes through a series of banners throughout their town. An extension of this idea might be to celebrate Westonians alive or dead who have made a contribution.

Another amazing thing about Dunnville is the clean appearance possible on a street with no overhead wiring. If Dunnville can do it, why not Weston?

Buskerfest a Success.

Large crowds were on hand along Weston, north and south of Lawrence on Saturday to watch an entertaining set of buskers captivate audiences. This was Weston’s very first Buskerfest and by all accounts was a huge success.

Crowds fill the corner of Weston and Lawrence.
Lucy Loop and her hoops.
Fire entertainer David Ito ‘warms up’ the crowd.
A caricature artist gets to work.
Children were captivated by the Ostrich Guy and his bird.
The Ostrich Guy has been appearing in his current persona for about four years.
The Ostrich greets a young spectator.
The Ostrich Guy meets and greets.

The event was financed by Weston’s Business Improvement Area, and designed to draw people into Weston.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that several businesses including the banks, Weston Hub builders, Rockport and Metrolinx had declined to contribute to Buskerfest. This was incorrect – they were not approached for a contribution. I apologize for the error.

 

A tale of two wards.

Councillor Pam McConnell. (from Twitter.com)

The recent and untimely death of Councillor Pam McConnell brought forth an outpouring of tributes. Many remembered her service to the community and the great things a determined councillor can achieve in a Toronto ward. Ms. McConnell may have represented Rosedale but she consistently voted to defend her poorest constituents, not the richest. She also fought hard to improve the public domain rather than work for private interests.

We can view Ms. McConnell’s recent voting record through a handy grid compiled by Toronto blogger Matt Elliott. The Google Docs spreadsheet itemizes how each Toronto councillor voted on important topics over the past few years. As part of the grid, Mr. Elliott also keeps a scorecard on how each councillor’s overall votes align with those of our right-leaning Mayor John Tory – recently described by some wags as ‘Rob Ford in sheep’s clothing’.

Ms. McConnell it turns out, voted with the Mayor only 41.5% of the time. In contrast, our own Councillor Nunziata voted with the Mayor a remarkable 92.5% of the time; more than anyone else on council. That’s loyalty but at what cost to the people in York South-Weston?

Mr. Elliott’s scorecard can be found at this link.

Artscape publishes Q&As

The Weston Hub / Common in a 2015 artist concept.

Artscape is a non-profit arm of the development industry that works with planners and developers to incorporate affordable artistic spaces into building projects. One project now under construction is in Weston and it will be known as Weston Common. Read more on this project here, here and here. A quick search through our archives will pull up more articles.

Recently, Artscape asked for questions about the new Hub and five of them have been answered already. Here they are:

Q: How high will the ceilings be in the Hub’s studio spaces?

A: The approximate ceiling height from the top of the finished floor in the studio spaces is 4.75m (15 feet and 7 inches). Because the ceilings in the studio spaces are open, this estimated height does not take into account any servicing (ducts, lighting, etc.), so practical height will be somewhat lower. 

Q: Is there additional storage available for occupants of the studios?

A: To ensure flexibility of use, storage has not been built into the studio spaces, and the studios do not include dedicated storage space elsewhere in the Hub. When thinking about the area of the studio spaces, also consider how to accommodate storage needs within that area. 

Weston Web Comment: There will be 3,897 m² (40,000 square feet) of storage space next door available for a fee. Perhaps some sort of discount could be negotiated for artists in residence.

Q: Does the Hub have parking?

A: While the Hub does not have its own dedicated parking, there will be ample parking available with easy access to the facility. The Hub is located immediately beneath the parking decks of a large parking garage at 33 King Street, and those parking levels will be directly connected by an elevator that will exit on to the outdoor public space next to the Hub’s entrance. There will also be a new 70-space TPA lot built next to the project site. Finally, the Hub itself will have a loading entrance, accessible from the driveway between the Hub and the railway corridor. 

Q: When might the studio spaces be delivered for fit-out?

A: Construction is proceeding on schedule, and spaces may be available for delivery to occupants as early as July 2018, but an exact date cannot yet be provided. The studio spaces will be delivered as open, flexible spaces, in a state that is suitable for occupation (flooring, lights, sprinklers, ductwork installed). If the occupant wishes to further sub-divide or fit-out the space, it will be at their own cost. Depending on timing, additional fit-out may be undertaken under Artscape’s building permit, or following completed of work on the Hub, under a new permit obtained by the occupant.

Q: Will the Artscape Hub be accessible?

A: Yes, the Artscape Hub at Weston Common will be fully accessible by Ontario standards.