A guest post by Julia Tramontin, a Ryerson journalism student
A new Youth Hub is opening at Weston Public Library on Nov. 16, which library staff said will have a positive impact on youth in the community, even during COVID-19.
“Youth Hubs are a space for teens ages 13 to 19 where they can come and actively engage with their peers, join a program or workshop to learn something new. It’s a space for teens to get homework help and tutoring and get a healthy snack, although a lot of these services are pre-COVID,” said Mohamed Abdullahi, a Youth Hub Librarian at Weston Public Library. “It’s a space where we support their development and it’s a safe space for them.”
According to the Toronto Public Library website, youth will have access to a drop-in study space and technology, such as laptops. Librarians will also be available for school support and to connect teens with community resources.
“There are currently 20 Youth Hubs and there will be 23 by Nov. 23,” Lisa Heggum, the Youth Services Manager of Toronto Public Library, wrote in an email. According to Heggum, the Weston Youth Hub is one of ten Youth Hubs being added to libraries throughout 2020.
A 2017 report from Social Planning Toronto found that about 40% of Weston children under the age of 18 live in poverty. As stated in the 2019 Operating Budget Briefing, Youth Hubs are situated in or near Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) as part of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. This aims to provide access to programs for children and teens and support the growth of programs outside of school for youth outside.
“This service is standardized across the entire city,” said Sheldon Hood, who is also a Youth Hub Librarian at Weston. “Weston deals with a lot of economic and racial disparity, but the service you’re getting at the Youth Hub here is going to be the same service as any other Youth Hub.”
The Toronto Public Library Youth Services Strategy Report describes its alignment with the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (TYES). According to this report, the library joins this strategy in focusing on vulnerable youth who “need improved access to opportunities to reach their potential” and states that services provided by the library, such as Youth Hubs, are critical to addressing barriers for youth including safe spaces, education, and employment.
Christina Paschakis, the Weston Library Branch Head, said that pre-COVID, the library would see upwards of 40 to 50 teens coming to the library per day to hang out. “The youth hub will have a lasting impact because we’re going to be able to provide them a better space that’s actually a proper space for them,” said Paschakis. “Children will also see the teens in the space and they’re going to be more likely to join when they become a teen, rather than being out on the street.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Latisha Taylor, the Children’s Program Coordinator at Frontlines— a children and youth specific centre located in Weston. “Sometimes home is not enough. Having places like the Youth Hub where you can go and you know that somebody is always going to be there is very important to youth.” “This is not something I had as a teen. If it was something me and my peers had, it would have had such a positive impact,” said Abdullahi, who grew up in the Weston neighbourhood. “It’s going to be fantastic for everybody.”
MPP Faisal Hassan put out a press release this week saying that “greedy” insurance companies “need to be regulated to stop them from using COVID-19 as an excuse to gouge small businesses and deny claims and coverage.”
The impetus for the release was a The Irish Rose Pub on Weston Road, which, he says, faces closure after a quadrupling of its insurance rates when its current provider declined to renew coverage.
“Like The Irish Rose, many business owners in Ontario are faced with impossible choices during this pandemic, struggling to make it through. We have to put an end to the pandemic price gouging that is crushing small businesses, family-owned establishments, and community organizations,” Hassan said. “It’s time to put people ahead of greedy corporations that gouge in the name of the pandemic with tough, fair regulations.”
There is, of course, a new Dollar Store at the old Greenland Farms location. That’s nice, but it doesn’t tickle my knees like the new “Humber River Fruit and Vegetable Market” that has opened up at 2181 Weston Road, just north of Church.
Since the Asian market closed, it’s been hard to get fresh food within walking distance of Weston. This new fruit market will help change that.
There is a new photo-radar camera on Jane Street, and it’s a doozy.
The camera is located on Jane St. on the hill south of Eglinton. It’s very easy to go faster than the limit there. The hill is steep, the road is wide, and the traffic is irritating. It’s an invitation to put your foot down.
The Jane Street camera is unusual. Most speed cameras in Toronto have been on minor streets and near schools. The camera on Jane is near Roselands Public School, but it is a major road, and while the school is close, I don’t think it fronts the street.
The city issued more than 22,000 tickets in the first month the cameras were functioning. If I understand the fines correctly, speeders will be charged $5 for every kilometre/hr they are going over the the limit of 50.
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of trying to get home on the 35 Jane, you know the service sucks: buses are crowded, short turns turf you out, and it can take an eternity until the next bus arrives.
Transit blogger and pundit Steve Munro took the Jane to task this week. It’s a long, gory article, with a lot of charts and a story of buses bunched so close you’d think they made a tuktuk.
I think it comes down to this: the TTC simply cannot keep a regular interval between buses.
It’s a disaster. Packs of buses sniffing each other’s exhausts prowl the road, leaving half-hour gaps between. People wait, saviour buses get crowded, and everybody gets angry.
By early afternoon, a platoon of six buses has assembled at Jane Station and it travels to Pioneer Village Station more or less intact. On the return trip, one of them short turns at Lawrence at about 3 pm, only to join a smaller group of three buses headed north. Other buses are accumulating into packs during this period.
By 4 pm, all of the service has clustered into groups of four to six vehicles with gaps of over half an hour between them. Only a few short turns are visible. These may get the buses back “on time” but they do little to improve spacing in the service.
Even while the service on Jane is a disaster, the TTC is planning to remove two automobile lanes from Jane so they can be bus-only lanes, starting in 2021. To your correspondent, this seems bonkers. Jane Street will turn into a snarled mess.
Giving the TTC entire lanes would—good lord, I hope—solve the service problems. But given how bad things are now, I find it hard to believe that cutting the number of car lanes in half is the easiest, cheapest, or best option.