Payday loans under pressure

This week, City Council will consider ideas that would put more pressure on payday loan companies, which are common in Weston. Council will also ask staff to meet with bankers to “discuss the service gaps in the banking sector affecting underserved low-income individuals”.

The city has been working for several years to reduce the number and density of high-interest lenders through zoning and licensing. The number of licenses was fixed in 2018, and as companies go out of business, their licenses are retired.

City Council will vote on investigating whether payday loan businesses can be forbidden within 500m of an AGCO-licensed business “selling services involving lottery and gaming, cannabis, alcohol and horse racing”, pawnshops, social services organizations for low-income residents, and social housing. I think that would, in effect, forbid payday loan establishments throughout the city—except perhaps for Toronto Island.

Nunziata: be nice and clear your ice.

Yesterday, Councillor Nunziata issued an email reminding people and businesses about snow removal and being good neighbours. At the end, she gave the word to businesses:

Finally, business owners must clear the adjacent sidewalk of snow or ice within 12 hours of the end of a snowfall, as per the Snow and Ice Clearing Bylaw. The fine for not clearing snow from public property can be up to $135.

Frances Nunziata

Read the councillor’s email here.

Walking around Weston today, it seems obvious that some major corporations, for example, Bell have failed in their duty to clear their sidewalks.

Looking along Belleview Avenue towards Weston Road on January 21. The sidewalk is buried under a huge mound of snow removed from their parking lot.

No doubt a fine of $135 is very small potatoes for the mighty Bell corporation but forcing pedestrians to walk in traffic is very bad for public relations. They might want to uncover their missing sidewalk along Hickory Tree Road too.

Bell’s sidewalk in balmier times. Google.
Bell’s sidewalk on January 21st.

Big Etobicoke York Community Council meeting

On January 5, the Etobicoke York Community Council will be having (what seems to me) a quite important meeting.

They will be discussing the “Picture Mount Dennis Planning Framework”, which will, among other things:

  • Amend the Official Plan and allow higher buildings near Weston road and the rail corridor
  • “Draft a Secondary Plan for Mount Dennis to establish a comprehensive planning framework”
  • “provide a new policy direction for Mount Dennis to support a transit oriented, complete community,
  • “Provide provisions”—no idea what that means—”for future parkland dedication and Privately Owned Publicly Accessible Spaces”
  • “Amend the Zoning By-law based on the recommendations of the report to… amend the zoning for lands… with a Neighbourhoods designation, establish maximum retail unit frontage length for new development on Weston Road; include maximum building heights, expressed in metres and number of storeys, for each character area; establish maximum retail sizes and amend zoning boundaries to resolve zoning inconsistencies.”

I’ll be honest: I don’t have the know-how or the time to figure this out. It’s a huge, 220-page, two part (1, 2) report. I’d love your help. If you can explain what this all means, email me.

Etobicoke York Community Council will also continue to consider two very large developments on January 5. One is on Hollis Drive and the other on Photography Drive.

The Hollis Drive proposed development is a 34-storey, 365-unit tower on a residential street.

The Photography Drive project is even bigger.

Artscape – a cautionary tale.

There’s an interesting article in the Globe and Mail detailing events unfolding in Toronto’s Distillery District. Back in the closing days of the 20th Century, TTD developers took advantage of Section 37 to build higher and in exchange, granted below market rates to artists through Artscape for a period of 20 years. Sadly, that subsidy ends in 2022 and around 70 artists are being turfed out to make room for a college. These are the artists who created an interest in the area when nobody wanted to go there. There was hope that Artscape might be able to negotiate a new deal but it didn’t happen. The Globe article makes an excellent point, namely that bad architecture, which will be around for a long time was traded for an artist subsidy lasting only 20 years.

Perhaps this is a lesson that we can learn from in the future (and by we I mean Councillor Nunziata and local resident’s associations). Concessions made as part of Section 37 should be as permanent as the crappy architecture that generated them.

Read the Globe article here.