Nice article on Weston 2021

InsideToronto has a nice article on the changes that may be coming to Weston. Some are in the works, and some are clearly fantasy, but they are all inspiring:

Turning Weston Road, the main street for commerce in the area, to a boulevard lined by trees and storefronts, and reducing the number of laneways from four to two.

Converting a set of vacant buildings along King Street into a future expansion for George Brown College.

Building a cycling museum at the new GO station in honour of a former cycling manufacturer that operated in the area for nearly a century.

Burying the rail corridor underneath Lawrence Avenue.

 

 

New towers planned for 1765, 1775 Weston Rd

The architect and property manager of the high-rise buildings at 1765 and 1775 Weston Rd say that they are planning more towers on the site.

The towers have had a troubled history. In 2006, Now Magazine declared the owner one of “Toronto’s Worst Landlords“. The state of repair in the apartment buildings was so bad that the few remaining tenants sued for and won a rent rebate. Since then, the owner, who lives in Montreal, has hired new property managers, and things are much improved, according to Frances Nunziata. She says that the new property manager has led to “a 100% improvement”.

The towers will now be renovated as part of former mayor David Miller’s “Tower Renewal Project”, which will improve the environmental and social features of the buildings. City staff will provide advice, but the city will not contribute money to the renovation.

There were several different designs being proposed at the conference, at least one of which included another tall building on the site. There could also be a pair of low-rise wings.

Weston planning conference wraps up

The Weston 2021 design conference ended on Thursday. For three days, dozens of Toronto’s best and brightest architects and planners devoted themselves to solving the problems in Weston. The ‘charette’ was organized by Frances Nunziata, our city councillor, and developed out of the work of Paul Bedford, Toronto’s former Chief Planner.

The architects and urban planners were trying to improve three areas in Weston: the residential area between Rosemount and the Humber, the Weston GO Station, and the apartment towers at 1765 and 1775 Weston Rd.

The conference started with the idea that Weston is not an intersection; it is a town. However, the attendees recognized several problems that were brought to them by community members:

  • We suffer from a lack of connectivity between the two sides of the tracks
  • The streetscape along Weston Road is not inviting
  • Residents have concerns about safety
  • The retail spaces along Weston Road tend to serve only low-income residents
  • Much traffic goes through Weston, but few people stop

The planners at the conference were trying to improve the community by finding something to rejuvenate the business area, increase day to day activity in Weston, and catalyze growth in developments and public space. Some of the ideas included:

  • Improving the policing, lighting, and cleaning along Weston Rd.
  • Creating ‘catalyst’ development at the Weston GO station that will draw the community together and create new investment opportunity
  • Creating a ‘bicycle identity’ for the area, building on our history of bicycle manufacture

The charette worked to develop a final printed product which will be available soon. The proposed ideas will be subjected to financial scrutiny at the next level of planning, the “Technical Assistance Panel” workshop.

Metrolinx and the City of Toronto picked up the tab for the charette.

 

 

Blight becomes business

One of the ugliest empty buildings in Weston is now a sharp small business.

The Heladeria y Confeteria Uru Can Bakery at 1773 Jane St has been a decrepit storefront for at least as long as your humble correspondent has lived in Weston. It was marred by graffiti and neglect, and was a particularly run down building in the empty space between highrises.

Now, however, things are much better: a new bakery and sandwich shop has just opened up. The good proprietors of Latin Bakery have spiffed up the interior and exterior and stocked the store with good-looking sandwiches and baked goods, which your humble correspondent was unable to try because he had forgotten his wallet.

King St residents to be surveyed for speed humps

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.

 

Excellent article on, of all things, front-yard parking

Regular readers will know that no news is too small to report for WestonWeb. This humble correspondent will cover leaves falling if it’s a slow day. He does so sure in the belief that small news matters to the people who make it.

However, it’s a little unusual to find a smart, sympathetic treatment of tiny issues in the major media. This week, though, Tim Foran, from InsideToronto, wrote an excellent article on front-yard parking in Weston. Foran takes a tiny topic to drill into the walls around City Hall. With the facade cracked, some of the absurdities poke through.

Front-yard parking can be hard on a neighbourhood, and so it must be approved by the city. City staff survey the neighbours, and if enough of them give their thumbs up, the parking spot can be approved.

But there’s a catch: more than half of the people surveyed need to respond, otherwise the application is rejected. And most of the time, people don’t respond.

City staff refused [a] Weston resident’s application for a front yard parking pad even though her Somerville Avenue property met the city’s restrictive criteria determining eligibility and she agreed to the landscaping requirements for permeable paving material and planting of a tree, said Nunziata.

The hangup preventing city staff from approving Catania’s application is that only 35 of 80 ballots sent by the city to her neighbours were returned, less than the minimum 50 per cent response rate required for a poll to be considered valid, states Nunziata’s letter. Of the 35 residents who voted, 91 per cent approved of Catania’s application. “If the rest of the people don’t care enough or have a vested interest in voting, then why does their voice speak so loudly?” questioned Catania, who intends to make a deputation to the public works committee Wednesday morning in support of Nunziata’s request. The councillor is asking staff for their recommended solution but she suggests the ballots could state clearly a non-vote will be assumed to mean there’s no objection. The required minimum response rate could then be abolished, she states.

We’ve seen this in Weston a number of times before. Speed humps on MacDonald and John were rejected by staff because too few residents responded. Community Council overruled the staff. King St will soon get the same kind of survey.

But residents cannot, as far as I know, make an appeal if council doesn’t want speed humps. In a wonderful twist, it turns out that $750 will buy you a front-yard parking spot if your neighbours couldn’t be bothered to say no:

Residents [can] pay a non-refundable fee of $748.03 to make these appeals.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” said Nunziata.

Catania isn’t too thrilled about that idea either.

“Basically we could pay for a yes,” she acknowledged. “That sort of irks me, the whole concept. It just doesn’t sound like the process is right when the people can pay another $750 and then it will go through.

 

Denison Rd houses demolished

The Georgetown GO line and the Air Rail Link have taken their first casualties. Nine houses along Denison Rd were demolished over the past two weeks to make way for the expanded train service.

Denison is being rerouted and lowered into an underpass; right now, the tracks are at a level crossing. Denison will be soon be closed and will remain so for about a year.

Sam Frustaglio Avenue, just east of the tracks, will be made into a cul-de-sac, and according to InsideToronto, other buildings will be demolished, including the newly-renovated offices of GO itself.

GO plans to demolish a few more buildings to accommodate the underpass. It expects to tear down its own community office and an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location, both on the east side of Weston Rd. and Dennison [sic], but not before next March. More immediately, it estimates it will acquire the Ebenezer Gospel Tabernacle this April. The church has identified a property for relocation, said GO.