Man wanted in STJE fire

Marc Porlier, 43, is wanted by police for setting the fire at St John the Evangelist church this morning.Marc Porlier, wanted

Porlier is from the area but has no fixed address. He has a history with police.

While the church will be closed for a few days, the damage is fairly minor, and nobody was harmed.

According to CityNews

Neil MacCarthy from the archdiocese of Toronto said church surveillance video clearly showed a man climbing up some fencing on an outside wall, breaking a window and throwing something through it.

 

STJE update: construction starts in May

Dave Bennett, the chair of St John the Evangelist’s parent council says that “Construction activity will soon start on our school site!!! The TCDSB and the city have been very busy since October to ensure our new school constructions starts in May to guarantee the September 2018 opening.”

Construction will begin in May and be completed in time for students to return to school in September of 2018.

The new school will be almost double the size and will have much more green space than the last school, thanks in part to a grassy lot on top of the UPX tunnel.

Photo by Dave Bennett

Melodies under the mistletoe

While the snow fell down in buckets, Weston Colligate institute held their annual winter concert. The frightful weather didn’t hold any of the talents back, however. With performances from the school’s concert band, jazz band, choir, strings orchestra and countless solo acts; everyone in the audience had the time of their lives seeing the students perform. Parents, friends, students and community members braved the frigid temperatures to come see the show.

The choir kicked the night off, singing songs from hit musicals, and the classic Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis. As the night drew on the strings orchestra, Jazz and concert band played amazing instrumentals, that left the crowd speechless. The solo acts included piano duets, guitar ensembles, and even a beautiful singing solo. Every student involved in music at Weston brings their own unique sound and life to the school and music at Weston would not be the same if even just one of them was not there.

“I’ve been in the band for three years, and the winter concert is my favourite event. It really shows you how hard we’ve worked and really gets you in the holiday mood”, was what Italia Santoyo, a grade 11 student at Weston, had to say about the annual event.

The music department at Weston is run by Mr. Nadalin and is one of Weston’s most popular groups. He works tirelessly year-round to make sure that all the students involved in the music program are able to nurture their talents and showcase them to the world. Whether it be through encouraging them, teaching them and putting together two yearly concerts, Mr. Nadalin never fails to do an amazing job with his musicians. In a time where careers in the arts and music are looked down upon, Mr. Nadalin always makes sure his students know that they are extremely talented and never fails to make sure their talent is being appreciated.

“I’m really excited to perform but I don’t want to mess up. I’ve never played in front of a big crowd so I’m nervous and excited” –Isabella Truong, grade 9.

The bands and music council have been putting this concert together since the beginning of the school year, and their hard work was truly shown that night. Although the turnout was not as large as years previous, due to extreme weather; the enthusiasm of the musicians never faltered as they played and sang their hearts out. From heartwarming songs to classic holiday favourites, the band’s passion seemed to radiate off them and warmed the hearts of the guests.

While the weather outside was very frightful, the show was oh so delightful!


This article was sponsored by:Luisa Bada: Living in Weston, and Loving it!

City recommends against fence on MacDonald

City staff are again recommending against closing the laneway between Lawrence and Macdonald—an issue that has been ongoing for several months.

The laneway in question
The laneway in question

Some residents complained that it draws “illegal and antisocial behaviours”.

As the report says, closing the laneway would provide “the abutting landowners with the benefits of a private lane, while being maintained by the City. The disadvantages of closing the lane include the removal of an efficient transportation link for a significant number of pedestrians between Lawrence Avenue West and MacDonald Avenue, including the local high school”.

The issue should be decided at the October 13 Etobicoke York Community Council. It will then go before City Hall.

 

An idea

arduino-air-quality-splash

I would like to start air-quality and sound-level monitoring around Weston and Mount Dennis. My plan (it’s not much of a plan) is this:

  • I’ll write a grant proposal to get some Arduino-based monitors
    • Maybe I’ll get the grant
  • We’ll install them around town
  • We’ll collect, publicize, and analyze the data regularly on the blog.

I think this could be important work: we live near the busiest highway in Canada and an important train corridor. We could see how things are, and whether they are improving or worsening.

To get the grant, I need (among other things) a community partner. To make this work, we’ll also need some people who could check in on the little monitors and make sure they’re still plugged in and connected to the internet. Schools would be natural partners—but I’ve not yet found the local schools responsive.

That’s where you come in, dear reader:

  • Do you know any community partners?
  • Have any ins at the schools?

Weston schools face closure review

Every driver eventually faces the same question: when does fixing cost more than replacing? Your correspondent predicts that the TDSB is asking the same question now about several local schools.

Weston CI is among 8 schools in Ward 6 facing an existential review. The TDSB is conducting a “Long-Term Program & Accommodation Strategy“, and is looking to “reduce surplus space and build viable programs” at the following schools:

  • Rockcliffe MS,
  • Dennis Avenue CS
  • Weston CI
  • Cordella Jr. PS,
  • Harwood PS,
  • George Syme CS,
  • Roselands Jr. PS,
  • Lambton Park CS¹

I am not an education administrator, but I see the possibility for amputation synergies. Many of these schools need almost as much in repairs as they would cost to replace. Perhaps the TDSB will do the same thing car owners do: junk the heap.

Rockcliffe, though not properly in Mount Dennis or Weston (the beats I stick to) is illustrative. As well as being ‘underutilized’, it is on the critical list for repairs: more than $7 million of work needs to be done. Its repairs will cost almost as much as a whole new school: the province estimates that they add up to 93% of its replacement value.

Surely it will be tempting to close a school in that kind of shape if it is not being much used—and just as surely it must be tempting to put as few repairs as possible into a dying school, fulfilling the vicious cycle.

In order of rustbucketiness, then, the underutilized schools being reviewed are:

  • Rockcliffe MS: 93% rust
  • Dennis Avenue CS: 58% rust
  • Weston CI: 55%
  • Harwood PS, 49%
  • Cordella Jr. PS 48%
  • Roselands Jr. PS: 41%
  • George Syme CS 29%
  • Lambton Park CS 20%

I’m sure there are many factors the TDSB will consider—including politics—but the cost of fixing a forsaken school must be high among them. I predict, therefore, that the viability of Rockcliffe, Dennis Avenue, and Weston CI will be closely examined.

The process, it is clear, will be very slow. Staff are currently working on some of the schools, and public consultation will begin this fall. Other schools will not be reviewed until next year.


¹The special education programs at Haney Centre and York Humber may also be amalgamated.

CR Marchant in ‘Critical’ condition

As your kids head back to school next week, pity the caretakers and builders who have been working through the summer. The province released numbers about the state of repair of all of Ontario schools. It’s not great. CR Marchant is in critical condition–in worse condition than 95% of all the schools in the province.

There are 4,656 public schools in Ontario. In order of worst condition to best, Weston’s schools are ranked:

The TDSB is at pains to say that the schools are perfectly safe. Schools need repairs, but no students are in danger.

Parents and citizens can see the shortcomings on each school’s website. CR needs repairs to its HVAC, roadways, and play areas among others. Despite being in better condition, Weston Memorial has many “urgent” needs, including water distribution, the roof, floors and doors.