A walker’s guide to Weston

An artist’s concept of the Weston Hub showing the outdoor program space.

Beginning early next year, hundreds of people will be moving to Weston as part of the new Weston Hub. A few dozen will move into the 26 artist live / work residences while the vast majority, will rent in the 30 storey, 370 unit tower and podium currently being built by Rockport Group. At the moment, rental prices are unknown but they should be a lot cheaper than renting a condo. Here is a guide for those considering a move to our community and a possible reminder to those already here.

Your new address at 22 John Street has a walk score of 90 which, according to the experts qualifies as “a walker’s paradise; daily errands do not require a car”. Walking is a great exercise and has dramatic effects on longevity. Here are a few of the places that are within a short stroll of your new address.

Cultural Hangouts:

The Artscape Weston Hub: as mentioned, 26 artists will be living and working in your immediate neighbourhood along with 8200 square feet of indoor program space, 12,400 feet of outdoor program space; UrbanArts and Shakespeare in Action will provide programs for young and old.  Read all about it here.

Weston’s beautiful Art Nouveau library built in 1913.

Housed in a beautiful century building, Weston’s public library was built in 1913 and is one of the libraries originally funded by the Carnegie foundation. This branch has a good variety of activities and opportunities to become involved with the community.

Weston’s outdoor theatre.

A few steps from Weston Road towards the river, there is an outdoor theatre in a beautiful setting on Little Avenue that may see more use now that Shakespeare In Action are relocating here.

Weston Historical Society is active, holds regular historical walks and talks and has a base of operations at 1901 Weston Road.

Weston has its own Santa Claus Parade. and Buskerfest organized by the BIA.

Restaurants:

Restaurants abound in Weston: a highly recommended burger joint, fish and chips, pizza, Chinese, Jamaican, Phillipine and Somali food, a chicken chain, family and a breakfast specialty chain. There are several independent coffee shops and even a Timmies. A superb Mexican restaurant is within a fifteen-minute walk but don’t tell anyone; it’s a secret.

Weston Farmers Market, will be outside your front door every Saturday from May to October.

Retail:

We have few major chains in the heart of Weston; Shoppers Drug Mart being a notable exception, but there are lots of small family owned stores selling a variety of items. Squibbs Stationers has been in Weston since 1927 and is a great place to get school supplies and textbooks. Incidentally, Weston Village has one the the oldest of Toronto’s business improvement areas.

There is a large Asian supermarket nearby but it may be closing soon as the site has been purchased by a developer. Shoppers Drug Mart has quite a large grocery section but you’ll need to go elsewhere for produce when the farmers market is not operating.

Greenland Farms produce section.

If you’d like a haircut / style / manicure, there is plenty of choice, including the ‘world famous’ Peter’s Barber Shop on your doorstep.

In spite of recent trends to close branches, we still have banks, BMO and RBC with branches close by and Luminus Financial credit union is a 10 minutes walk.

Medical:

There are several family doctors, walk in clinics, testing facilities, opticians and pharmacies, all within easy reach.

Sports and Nature:

Family and friends watch as children from across the GTA take part in a soccer tournament on Weston’s artificial turf soccer pitch.

Dog owners, fisher folk and photographers will be in their element in Weston as the Humber runs to the west.

The Humber river is a few minutes’ walk away.

A cycle / walking trail along the Humber leads through Cruickshank and Lions parks, the latter having lots of sporting facilities – an open air pool in summer, baseball diamonds, a FIFA standard artificial turf soccer pitch, tennis courts, a skateboard park and one of Toronto’s oldest hockey arenas with outstanding french fries.

Weston’s outdoor pool.

Commuting:

The UP Express and GO stations are 5 minutes away and will whisk you downtown in 14 minutes while airport workers will get to Terminal 1 even quicker. Weston is the city’s second biggest bus hub so there are many routes to pick from.

So there it is; you truly will be living in a walkers’ paradise.

Readers, did I miss anything? Please comment in the section below.

Options For Homes: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weston.

Options for homes has written an article entitled, ’10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weston’. It’s a nice tribute to the area where they will be erecting a 22-storey, 233 unit building at 10 Wilby Crescent.

Read the article here.

Readers, do  you agree? What did they miss? I’d like to correct the 15 minute time to Union – it’s actually 14 minutes and while we’re timing things, 11 to Pearson and only 6 minutes to Bloor.

The Masonic Building at 2040 Weston Road. (Google Maps)

Personally, I’m fascinated by the mysterious Mason’s building at 2040 Weston Road. I’d love to get a tour one day.

Glen Murray’s departure and The RailPath Extension

Former Ontario Minister of the Environment, Glen Murray was in Mount Dennis in June, (along with Frances Nunziata and Laura Albanese) supporting their Net Zero initiative. His abrupt departure has left a few questions hanging about two important Mount Dennis initiatives, in particular their Net Zero push as well as the Toronto West Railpath cycle and pedestrian trail northward expansion.

This article covers the West Toronto RailPath.

The RailPath is a great idea that has been tirelessly promoted by people along the UP Express line and particularly in The Junction and Mount Dennis. Why a path along a rail line? Railway lines are built to smooth out hills wherever possible – trains don’t like inclines. For that reason, a bike / walking trail alongside a rail line is a perfect match because without hills and dips a bike / pedestrian path is easier and safer to use. Plans are to extend the trail southwards below Queen Street and beyond (under study).

In June’s meeting in Mount Dennis, Murray seemed to give an assurance that a northward Railpath extension would get the go ahead despite a previous firm no from Metrolinx. At the time of the meeting, Murray must have known that his future lay elsewhere. Attempts to contact his constituency office on the topic have not been successful.

Then Environment Minister Glen Murray (centre) at the June 12 meeting in Mount Dennis Library.

The new Environment Minister, Chris Ballard directed my inquiry back to Metrolinx Senior Media Manager, Anne Marie Aikins who tells me that “The City of Toronto is the lead on the Railpath project and is in a better position to answer questions about the project and its timelines.” Metrolinx has basically said that the RailPath must end at Black Creek Drive and the City has been tasked with finding a route.

Simon Chamberlain (recording secretary of the (ever awesome) Mount Dennis Community Association) is very knowledgeable on the issues around the possible northward extension. He says that this particular rail track passes directly through communities and could be be a link to stores and other amenities along the way. Unfortunately, without wide enough bridges, the rail path can only run north as far as Black Creek Drive and then exit the corridor at that point, continuing on a much hillier trail through the Black Creek Valley to Trethewey and westward into the back streets of Weston.

The rail corridor as it makes its way north-west from Union Station. Red dots indicate where the bike / pedestrian route might leave the corridor and where it could join Trethewey.

Simon explained that the main obstacles to continuing the trail northward are bridges which are expensive to widen after the fact. Sadly, unlike the builders of the Bloor Viaduct, Metrolinx didn’t seem to anticipate the need for a wider corridor. The MDCA unsuccessfully tried to get Metrolinx to only partially demolish the Photography Drive bridge that crossed Eglinton and thus leave room for a pedestrian / cycle trail. He believes that there is a possible route northward over the bridge that crosses Black Creek Drive and MDCA has been pushing Metrolinx to extend the RailPath north to Ray Drive and beyond, possibly as far as Denison.

Simon believes that Metrolinx is reluctant to alter any contracts that are under way because of the additional expense (think of home renos when you ask a contractor for changes during the job).

The City’s Railpath Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, Maogosha Pyjor says that,

“There have been questions about extending the Railpath further north west along the rail corridor. Planning for this extension would require its own Environmental Assessment…. the City has been informed by Metrolinx that due to their track expansion plans there will not be space in rail corridor for a trail going north. The City will have to  look at on-street connections.”

 That seems to be the way it goes for Weston / Mount Dennis. Two steps forward and one step back.
This might be a good time to remember that politicians will get to work on an idea if they think that people are behind it.
Updates when more news comes in.

Weston – a (comparatively) long history.

Weston has some old structures. Not that old compared to those in Europe, Africa or Asia but for North America, we have quite a few of historical interest.

Strictly speaking, Weston’s oldest structure is the Carrying Place Trail. This was used by First Nations people and explorers between 1615 and 1793. A plaque was dedicated by the Weston Historical Society in 2013.

The Carrying Place Trail Plaque in 2013.

Weston’s next oldest structure is the 1856 CNR (formerly Grand Trunk) bridge that crosses the Humber to the west of Weston and St Phillips. It was recently widened to accommodate the UP Express but the original structure still stands.

The October 5th 1859 sod turning for the Toronto Grey and Bruce narrow-gauge railway by 19 year-old Prince Arthur, 3rd son of Queen Victoria. From: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

The next oldest structure is the long neglected Plank Road Building at Weston and St Phillips. This structure at 2371 Weston was built in 1841 and   in recent years has stood abandoned. Someone obviously owns it and is paying (no doubt reduced) taxes on it.

The Plank Road Building at 2375 Weston Road. From: Google Maps

Weston Presbyterian Church on Cross Street in Weston has an interesting history dating from 1847. The current version dates from 1880.

Weston Presbyterian Church. From: Google.ca

St John the Evangelist Catholic Church was established in 1853.

Weston Collegiate Institute has been going since before Canada was a country (not in the same building!) and is Toronto’s second oldest high school.

Weston Lacrosse Team 1924. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

Weston Village is filled with fine homes and mansions, many dating from around the turn of the 20th Century. Generations of families have enjoyed these homes and their history once revealed can be fascinating.

The City of Toronto has a web page outlining some useful areas of investigation if you are researching the history of your older home. Weston Historical Society may also be useful in this regard.

Readers are invited to share their discoveries.

Today in Weston May 13, 2017

Today was a busy one in Weston. The Weston Farmers Market was open with a few stalls. Next week will be bigger and better. According to vendors, business was brisk. Everyone I spoke to was pleased with their sales.

Weston Farmers Market begins the second of three seasons at its UP Express location.
Sebastian Capatina from menos.ca with some artisanal olive oil and bread samples.
Emi Burnham from Pinkyz Bath Bombs with some actual bath bombs.

The Farmers Market wasn’t the only activity happening today.

At the Weston Library, Ameer Shaikh (L) and Laurent Ho from ADL Process Electronic Recycling collect old electronics for, well, recycling.
At 2125 Weston Road, (the former St. John’s Anglican) Pastor Felix Ayomike helps out at the barbecue during Victory Assembly’s open house.

Down in the Humber Valley, exercise was on the minds of many.

At the Weston Sports Complex, soccer, tennis and baseball players do their thing.

Mount Dennis sees a bright future

An artist impression of the future Mount Dennis Station at 3500 Eglinton Avenue West.

Just as the UP Express is beginning to make a difference in Weston, according to an Inside Toronto article, people in Mount Dennis are anticipating a boost to their area as a result of the Eglinton Crosstown and the new Mount Dennis Station. The 19 km line with a 10 km underground stretch between Keele and Laird is set to open in 2021 after ten years of construction.

Incidentally, without former Premier Mike Harris, we could be riding a different version of the line today. This is a map of the subway line that Harris buried (and not in a good way) in 1995.

The subway line that we could be riding today if Mike Harris hadn’t killed it in 1995.

The Eglinton West Line would have run from Eglinton West Station all the way to Renforth along a right of way that had been reserved for the Richview Expressway (killed in the 1970s). Sadly, the Eglinton road allowance was sold for small change by Rob Ford in 2010 but nobody thought to tell John Tory as he was putting crayon to napkin for his SmartTrack plan. The allowance is now being filled in with some spectacularly awful townhomes.

Gratuitous side note: right wing politicians claim to be able to lower costs but their penny wise antics often end up costing us more in the end.

The latest iteration of an Eglinton line.

The new Mount Dennis Station will adapt the old Kodak Recreation Building and will be part of a transportation hub connecting with buses and the UP Express lines. Let’s hope that combined with the end of the vacant property rebate, the new transportation infrastructure will actually breathe fresh life into the area.

The shrinking Farmers Market

There only seems room for about 11 traders in this image from Artscape.

I know it’s just an artist’s drawing but the image posted on Artscape Weston’s site does not give the impression of a big enough space available for the market. Will it be possible to shoehorn the traders from the 2016 market into the 2018 one in the new Hub location?

The Market in its UP Express location off Weston Road in August 2016.

My suspicion is that the space will not be sufficient leading to either a loss of traders or the market simply moving to another location.

Here’s an overhead look at the old market.

An overhead look at the market a couple of years ago before moving to the UP Express lot. More than 40 stalls were being rented. (Apple Maps)

The market was to have been an important component of the Hub. Traders cannot be forced to use the space if they believe that it won’t be worth the effort, or if there is no room to set up an adequate space. Additionally, in the past, stall holders were able to overflow their pitches without penalty. If space is tight, such flexibility will be impossible.