Peter Anan restaurant closes

The dining scene is dismal in Weston. There are few restaurants, and fewer good ones. And now an old standby, Peter Anan Thai Restaurant, has closed.

Peter Anan’s was a strange place. It forewent the bamboo and Buddhas for the style of a 1960s cafe. The food was merely decent, but the prices were fair, the service was excellent, and the owner and staff were kind.

Now the windows are papered over, and Anan has put a sign on the door: “Dear customer, THANK YOU for all the past business.”

King, John Streets to get speed bumps

At the community gathering tonight, one Westonian expressed her concern with the speed of traffic along King St. She said that the recent daylight drive-by shooting would likely not have happened had the culprits not been able to make a quick getaway.

Frances Nunziata said that “speed humps will be coming.” King St is in rough condition with many potholes, and, according to Nunziata, when the city has finished reconstructing the road in 2011, speed humps will be put in.

Speed humps will also be coming to John St, although Nunziata did not give a timeline.

Good news, bad news in Weston real estate

There were big changes in the Ontario real estate market last month. The introduction of the HST is being blamed for plummeting home sales in Ontario and BC, and sales were down in Weston as they were elsewhere.

In Weston, there were 30% fewer sales in July than there were in June, and prices fell 10%, from $346,000 to $315,000 for the typical home. For owners, that compares poorly to the rest of the city. Sales citywide were down 20%, and prices in Toronto as a whole fell only 1.5%.

The year preceding had been very good for Weston homeowners, however. The median price of a home here went up 13% in the 12 months between July of 2009 and June of 2010. So even with the sharp decline last month, homeowners broke more-or-less even last year.

Grattan Park reopens

“I’d eat that park for supper”, my three-year-old daughter says. “That park is awesome.”

She’s right. The new-and-improved Grattan Park is really fantastic.  Gone are the teetertotters and vomit comets; now kids have spring-loaded surfboards, 10-foot wobbly nets, and other really cool play structures.

The park was officially reopened tonight, and more than 60 people showed up to see the ribbon cutting and unveiling. Councillor Frances Nunziata, MPP Laura Albanese, and mayoral candidate Rob Ford were there to say a few words and congratulate residents, planners, and municipal employees on the new park.

Kevin Bowser, the Manager of Parks for the western district spoke about the history of the park and the old children’s summer camp that once was in it. Nunziata spoke about how it had taken 15 years to have the park improved, and how it had deteriorated in the meantime.

Interestingly, Albanese mentioned the political distance between the municipality and the province. She said “I know that the province doesn’t always participate. But I’m glad to find out that we are at least participating in some improvements in the area of York-South Weston.”

Typically, Rob Ford kept his eye on the bottom line. “This is where money should be spent”, he said. “This is what I call smart spending”.

Capitalism is great

Weston doesn’t have a decent coffee shop—and no,  Tim’s does not count. A decent coffee shop has more than one coffee, brewed strong. A decent coffee shop has pastries and muffins made fresh, not tired old donuts rolled frozen down the 401.

Now, however, the old clock-repair and computer shop on John St is being renovated. The inside has been entirely gutted, and a sign on the window says that the Bela Cafe will be opening soon.

The owners have chosen a great location. Their shop is just down the shop from the GO station, where tired commuters gather every day in the snow. With a little luck, the café will serve excellent coffee and treats, not cups merely good enough to keep commuters coming.


Before
After
Inside

Work commenced on Baker’s Dozen donut shop

Work has started on the disused Baker’s Dozen donut shop at the 401 and Weston Rd.

The donut shop appears to have suffered a fire many years ago, but it was left closed, unrepaired, and in terrible condition. It was a noticeable eyesore on a major entryway to Weston. Until recently, the Beaver gas station on the site continued to operate.

Currently, three men with heavy equipment are demolishing the existing buildings. According to Laura Albanese, the MPP for Weston, the site will be turned into a Shell gas station.

Donut shopDonut shop

Update on the worst buildings in Weston

Plank Road Building
Plank Road Building

Laura Albanese, the MPP for York-South Weston, explained the status of 5 buildings to be ashamed of in Weston. There is much to be hopeful about.

Albanese was able to provide me with information about three of the four properties I asked about (one property had two buildings)—and the fourth was my mistake. (I gave her the wrong address.)

The owners of the Plank Road Building, which I recently visited, were ordered to begin the repairs that I saw. They were told to have an architect and engineer identify the problems with the building; the owners were to then fix those problems. According to Albanese, they have already repaired the floor joists and are to be working on the masonry and foundation. The owners refused to donate the crumbling building to the city, even though the community would have raised the money for repairs and turned it over to community use.

2272 Weston Rd (appx)
2272 Weston Rd (appx)

The houses near collapse between 2270 and 2274 Weston Road were supposed to have been demolished to make way for a 12-storey seniors’ residence. The plan was rejected, however, in late 2009, and the owners have not resubmitted an improved proposal.

The donut shop near the 401 will be demolished to create a Shell gas station. Work appears to have begun on this property.

On the one hand, I find it reassuring that local politicians and bureaucrats work to preserve the heritage and appearance of Toronto. And I must extend a heartfelt thanks to Ms. Albanese; her response to my email was extremely thorough and generous.

2562 Weston Rd
2562 Weston Rd

Yet, on the other hand, I do find it discouraging that properties can sit for years, sometimes decades, and in the case of the Plank Road Building half a century without investment. It may reflect an inability of the government to apply pressure to developers; it certainly reflects developers’ lack of interest in the community. Developers only let a property be destroyed by time because it would cost more for them to improve or sell it.

While real-estate speculation is as old as real estate, it has spillover effects that are obvious in Weston. These abandoned properties do not lose their owners’ money—if they did, the owners would be motivated to sell. But they certainly lose their neighbours’ money. Every neighbour is punished for the laziness, ineptitude, or avarice of the actual owners, but none of the neighbours has enough power to do something about it. And while it may not be illegal to be a bad neighbour, it remains a low-down and rotten thing to be.