The Toronto Board of Health makes some important decisions regarding health matters in Toronto. A letter from Councillor Frances Nunziata questioning the efficacy of fluoridation was received by the Board in January. The councillor’s letter made some unsubstantiated suggestions that fluoridation of Toronto’s water may not only be ineffective but actually harmful. This is the same sort of unscientific nonsense that surfaces from time to time and is sometimes taken seriously with potentially devastating effects.
The anti-flouridation movement seems to have been spearheaded by some right-wing, tin-foil hatted groups. These people equated fluoridation with government interference and other socialist plots. Fluoride is a poison, according to them, and doesn’t belong in drinking water. They forget that fluoridation (like chlorination of water) has huge and proven benefits.
Incidentally, removing fluoride would most affect the poor and the young. Not a great idea for Weston. The City of Waterloo voted to remove fluoride from the water supply last year after an extensive fear-mongering campaign led to a narrow referendum vote against fluoridation. Dentists in that city now fear an epidemic of cavities and gum disease.
Thankfully, our Board of Health bases its decisions on scientific evidence and voted unanimously to recommend continued fluoridation of Toronto’s drinking water. We hope our councillor can think twice before giving credence to similar dangerous groups.
Councillor Frances Nunziata is seeking to protect us from another licensed restaurant, this time at 1784 Jane Street. According to our councillor, complaints were received regarding ‘drug activity, late night noise, and late-night construction’ at this address.
With the public not having access to the complaints in question, the councillor may be treading on shaky ground. Are the complaints legitimate? If so, why visit upon the new tenants the sins of the old ones? Is this unnecessarily impeding the birth of fledgling businesses? Certainly, our police are capable of enforcing laws and responding to noise complaints, yet this is the second straight month that the councillor has opposed a licence application in York South Weston. If a licensed restaurant is not in compliance with the law, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) can fine them up to $5000, suspend or revoke their license. A restaurant could continue to operate but would not be allowed to serve alcohol.
There are some important issues here that need to be addressed:
When politicians oppose liquor licence applications, the process should be transparent so that business owners (and the public) know that allegations are genuine (and not someone else’s fault) while protecting the identity of the complainants.
A few vocal residents should not be allowed to impede the improvement of our community.
Jane Street and Weston Road are commercially zoned and desperately in need of vibrant thriving businesses. Perhaps councillor Nunziata could share her vision for these streets and what she is doing to attract businesses that meet her approval.
King St residents will soon decide whether they want speed bumps on their street.
Etobicoke York Council directed city staff to survey residents to see if they want the humps. If more than half of those surveyed respond, and if more than 60% vote in favour, the humps can go ahead. In the past, though, few surveys have had enough respondents.
King St residents, among whom your humble correspondent numbers, should vote in favour. Traffic speeds increase closer to Jane St. Some drivers managed to go faster than 65 km/h between Pine and Jane even with the enormous potholes, according to the city report.
Speeds and numbers will likely increase when John St is closed and the road is repaired. Further, some of the other east-west streets in Weston recently got humps; those humps will push traffic toward King unless residents object.
If the residents vote in favour, nine humps will be installed, at a cost of $33,000.
Weston is lucky to have access to downtown in 17 minutes via the GO train. Just to put that in perspective, TTC subway from Royal York to Union involves a line change and takes 33 minutes on a good day. Property values around Royal York Station are astronomical in no small part because of the subway. Here in Weston, we can get downtown in half the time and don’t have to change trains. The only thing faster to downtown than the GO from Weston is a helicopter. Unfortunately GO’s service is a commuter run only with 7 Union Station bound trains in the morning and 6 Weston bound trains in the evening (go figure).
According to InsideToronto.com about 450 people get on or off at Weston each day. Assuming that most are on a return trip, that’s fewer than 250 actual people. The lack of parking at the station has long been cited as a problem. Weston’s GO station’s new location just south of Lawrence Avenue later this year may help. The relocation will almost double the number of parking spots to 200 and access will be from Weston Road. A temporary platform will be in place by November and a fully functioning station, platforms and even more parking will be ready for the opening of the Airport Rail Link in 2015. GO transit is anticipating an increase in ridership from Weston with the additional parking spots and a doubling of service levels in 2015 by which time the Airport Rail Link will be making stops here too. With electrification of the line, the service will be quieter and even faster.
As WestonWeb has mentioned in previous articles, Frances Nunziata is our vocal and dynamic councillor. She has been involved politically for decades and overall her contribution has been outstanding. Years of opposition made her an outspoken maverick ready to fight for her constituents.
One of the problems apparent in the Weston community is the illegal use of premises to hold large parties to which admission is charged. Parties go long into the night and attract some dangerous individuals. These unlicensed premises are a threat to safety and because their whereabouts are unknown, often in basements and side-alleys, they are hard to detect and shut down. When establishments are licensed, police officers and inspectors can enforce operating hours, room capacities and reasonable levels of noise.
Femi’s Place, an existing restaurant at 1812 Weston Road has applied for a licence to serve alcohol. For some reason, Ms. Nunziata recently steered through this emergency council decision to block the application. In her motion, Ms Nunziata claims that ‘Residents of Weston Village, within which this establishment is located, are already troubled by the number of licenced establishments in the area which frequently violate the conditions of their liquor licences but still remain in operation.’
As a result of complaints she sent inspectors to visit the restaurant, but they found that the restaurant was serving alcohol legally and without problems (the restaurant had applied for and obtained special permits). There was no evidence of wrongdoing other than hearsay.
There are few licensed establishments in the immediate area south of Lawrence. There is one nearby at 1828 Weston, Michelle’s Place, whose owner claims that they have never had problems.
In Ms. Nunziata’s zeal to clean up Weston, she may have forgotten that a nuanced approach is best rather than ‘Kitty bar the door’. Successful businesses and neighbourhoods have to start somewhere. Legal businesses pay taxes, enrich the local community and are subject to inspection and control.
The statement by Ms Nunziata that there are Weston establishments frequently in violation of their licenses implies that we are being failed by the inspection and enforcement process. Perhaps this is where she should focus rather than victimizing fledgling businesses.
Up for consideration at City Council today is a motion to find out whether the Air Rail Link between Pearson Airport and Union Station can be electrified in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015. If experts say it can’t be done (Metrolinx says it can’t), the motion calls for alternative transport arrangements for the games rather than beginning with diesel trains and later electrifying the line. This is in spite of the fact that diesel trains have already been purchased. Apparently the plan is to convert them to electric in 2017.
Who is behind this motion? None other than our own Councillor Frances Nunziata and Mayor Ford’s brother Doug. With backing like that, you can be sure the motion will pass handily and that in this election year, the Provincial Liberals will be torn between stonewalling and keeping the Ford boys happy.
You have to hand it to the Clean Train Coalition for keeping this issue alive and getting representatives at all levels actively involved.
The Globe and Mail has a story today on MPs and their parliamentary activities. While our Federal MP Alan Tonks is not among the absentee or silent members, he and Mississauga MP Paul Szabo hold the record for voting with the Tories against the Liberal Party mainstream.
As noted previously, he opposed a bill to add ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ to the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code’s hate crimes section. He also voted with the Tories to oppose Gerard Kennedy’s bill amending the refugee act to include conscientious objectors to seek refuge in Canada.
You can get the rest of Mr. Tonks’ voting record here.
It seems that when you vote Liberal, to quote the Rolling Stones, you don’t always get what you want.