96 John appeal rejected as “destabilizing”

The application to sever 96 John Street has been rejected by the Ontario Municipal Board on the grounds that it wouldn’t be in character with the neighbourhood. This may set a good precedent for the village.

The owners had asked to sever the lot and for permission to build a second home. The lots would have been 7.5m wide—unusually small for the community.

The decision is very encouraging if you believe, as I do, that Weston has a unique character that shouldn’t be fiddled with. The OMB based its decision on the size and character of the village’s lots, and said that approving a division would be “destabilizing”.

[The] Weston neighbourhood is currently a very stable neighbourhood that is not undergoing any change in its lot fabric and pattern of lot sizes… In the Board’s view, to allow this consent would thus represent a significant departure from the lot fabric of lot sizing and lot configuration that exists as part of the physical character of the Weston neighbourhood….

Although cases must be decided on their own merit, and although the possibility of establishing a precedent should not interfere with the examination of the merits of any application, in a neighbourhood such as the Weston village, the consequential impact of approving the first severance of this nature cannot be overlooked, nor the potential destabilizing effect that such a precedent might then cause.

The OMB also appeared baffled by the planning department  staff, who initially submitted a single-line email saying “Planning has no concerns” without, it seems, having actually reviewed the facts in the lot study.

 

Events this week

The Weston Historical Society will be holding its General Meeting on at 7:30 on Wednesday February 7,  2018 at The Village of Humber Heights Retirement Home, 2245 Lawrence Avenue West.

Our guest speakers will be Mary Louise Ashbourne & Cherri Hurst.
Their topic will be “Celebrating What Was and Still Is (In Weston).”

All are welcome, and refreshments will be served. The meeting is wheelchair accessible.

Letter of the Week – January 14, 2018

Another interesting set of  thoughts from Anonymous is our Letter of the Week. Anon was responding to other comments on the image of the new Rockport apartments  but first made a public service announcement which is also worthy of a more prominent airing.

Interesting.

Interesting concerns..
..as always from “Fortress Weston”.

So, if I may, before I weigh in on the high rise rentals issue of concern, here’s some helpful news or at the very least, a public service announcement:

“The Community Police Partnership” group is looking for more members, ahead of an upcoming meeting between local police and community members who have already expressed interest in assisting in our troubled community.

The note comes from Councillor Nunziata’s office – sent out this morning – where she extends yet another invitation to anyone else still very concerned about the safety in our community, saying that there’s still time to join the group, if you’d like.

This call to join, stems back to the last major meeting she organized regarding the ongoing concern about “Community Safety in Weston” – the well attended meeting that was held at Weston Memorial Jr. PS, back in mid-November.

You may recall that this came shortly after the stabbing murder in town, ironically near Central United Church, in the Shoppers Drug Mart parking lot.

Many agree that it was an odd, tragic event, that appears as though it could somehow be linked to gang related activity, given the odd, unknown relationship between the players in this drama.

Risky business dealings?
Maybe.

But, no matter the reason, it was unsettling for most of us, even though the Staff Sargent and her team assured us that these types of violent crimes are gang related, unlike the nuisance crimes most complained about.

Anyway, the Councillor’s note this morning is an invitation to consider joining a group of like minded, worried or concerned Weston folks who would work with members of 12 Division in something called, “The Community Police Partnership”, which will try and maintain an ongoing dialogue regarding safety and policing matters.

She’d like to know if there’s anyone else interested in joining the group which will meet in a few weeks to come.

Worried, concerned or down right pissed off and want to do something?
Here’s your chance to reach out to her office and assist.

Make no mistake and no matter what, the members of 12 Division will continue to be on guard for our area, trying to address all concerns, even if many are deemed nuisance crimes, relatively speaking, of course.

But, it’s evident that the Councillor has 12 Division’s ear, and they could use some help in an obviously, concerned Weston community.

And, if you’re wondering, no. I don’t work for or represent the Councillor or TPS’s 12 Division in any way, shape or form.

Just hoping to see a better balance in an area that I still call home, amid extreme finger pointing.

Frankly however, I do appreciate it when I see someone who isn’t afraid of some heavy lifting and a little hard work.

No magic.
Often, just hard, thankless work.

Could it be as easy as that?

Well, maybe not cause here’s the problem. And, to paraphrase an ancient French philosopher who once uttered in jest:

“.. The problem with the world is that everyone thinks they know the way, or has the answer.”

(Insert sycophantic, uppercrust, powder wigged laughter here.)

Anyway, somehow despite what you or I think of the Councillor’s efforts – as a politician or person – she continues to reach out in this community which includes a very disparate group of beings. And, she serves, unlike you and me.

“Takes a licking, but keeps on ticking”, n’est pas?

No?

Run against her effort & record.
(She’s bound to lose one day.)

So, in the mean time, consider her invitation to join, if safety is top of mind.

Now, back to the topic of Rentals in this working class area that has longgggg had high rise rental accommodations with numerous precedents paving the way for even more demands for affordable housing, not always pleasing to many of us.

They’re here to stay, and more are needed.

So, given that, how to make them better – for the unit residents and in general, the Weston community which is going through it’s own form of gentrification.

Weston is still a pretty good buy – better yet with improved rail transit into the city.

Clearly, neighbourhoods need a relationship with a strong business and development community.

We understand that affordable housing is intended to assist the less than privileged types among us, who we hope are decent folks, and often are.

But sadly, perhaps too often they are sharing space with lawless types who hide out in their midst. (“Community Safety” issue?)

Now, as we know affordable housing is encouraged & later demanded by social activists in our city and community.

And, these activists are backed by other like minded altruists who attend these very kinds of information meetings, too when organized by the Councillor, which includes interested investors who want to see if Weston is worthy of their consideration, and investment dollars.

Fact is, more often than not these are pretty small and poorly attended meetings by the people who actually live in the area.

If we don’t go to meetings, the balance is thrown off.

And then, what we get is this – too much right wing influencing the debate or too much left wing winning the day for their needs.

We perhaps then, get what we earn when we don’t get involved, especially when invited.

And yeah, I don’t always go these meetings either.
(I pick my spots, too. Not good. But, that’s life.)

But, here’s the thing for me when it comes to rentals – I very much believe in something often referred to as “pride in ownership” which is something I don’t think you get from living in a rental space.

And yes, I suppose as a consequence, I don’t much like having my hard earned tax dollars carelessly squandered by politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists or activists, of any persuasion.

Nevertheless, I fully understand that we sometimes have to spend shared taxation monies to improve societal needs, which hopefully benefits most involved & concerned.

A balance, a yin & yang influenced by those who choose to get involved.

So, like it or not, as it stands Weston has always been a working class neighbourhood which has given the have-nots of the world a place and a chance to start. A chance to improve, grow and move on up.

Many very proud Westonites from my past have moved on up & out.
(But, they always remember where they’re from, somehow in a prideful way.)

Some have grown to know the value of an opportunity to gain some ground. And others, will never know it because perhaps they’ve not had the good fortune of proper mentoring which clearly helps and begins in a family, who shows you the way.

My folks were working class stiffs originally from an Eastern bloc country, who bought their Weston home for $21,000 back in the day.

And, my in laws did so too, for about $5000 less, a few years prior to Mom & Dad’s closing date in the 60s.

They worked hard in the factory jobs available to them and knew the importance of saving, as best they could.

And, even though my folks had a real aversion to any left leaning politics given their life experiences in eastern Europe, they were involved in their workplace labour unions, working hard at obtaining some fairness, a balance in their workplace & community.

However, rhetoric goes only so far and like most, they sought better, too.

For them, apart from their mortgage, they never borrowed or used credit. Dad believed in paying cash for everything. Or would flex and consider a “lay away” plan for furniture & luxury items, a pretty much unheard of approach these days of instant gratification.

Life was relatively modest for us and people like us.

We were never middle class, but I never felt we were poor – just perhaps not as fortunate as others, never really coveting what someone else had in comparison.

I just had an awareness through my folks that if I truly wanted something I’d have to work carefully & hard to achieve it.

I was lucky – I had mentoring types from an early age.

Early in their journey, my mentoring types did have to rent many times before they finally could realize the dream of home ownership, and the pride that goes with ownership.

And so, thanks to them I hope I learned some important lessons well, that I might have shared with our kids, by example.

Also thankfully, don’t know what it means to have a good work ethic, but no where to earn a living the way many folks – young & old – are challenged these days.

Looking back, it did seem easier then, where even if you had no inclination for post secondary scholastics and what might materialize from those grand efforts – you could go off to a CCM, a Moffatts, construction trades or an auto mechanics job at a local dealership of which we had all brands represented in Weston.

It was tough then for working class folks and those who aspired to at least that level. But, probably tougher now.

The common denominator between then & now is that the community of Weston was and is more affordable than many other areas in the city of Toronto.

And, given the need for affordable rental housing everywhere, it’s not likely going to change too soon in the Weston area.

It will always be a growing concern.

Now, how to make it better?

Well, our web host once noted that, it is we the people who are the government, and it has a better chance to work & succeed if we people get involved, when these moments arise like they do in Weston.

Community Safety meeting, anyone?

Thanks for your time.

Today in Weston. January 13, 2018

Ice floes litter the ground in Raymore Park today after Thursday’s rain prompted a break-up of the ice covering the Humber. The river is at the base of the retaining wall on the left of the picture. Click to enlarge.

Almost every year, a warm spell causes the Humber’s banks to flood causing a  break-up of ice covering the river. As the ice breaks up it blocks the flow of water and behind the dynamically forming dam, large chunks float over the now widened river and are stranded there as each section of the ice-dam gives way and the water recedes. It’s a fairly rapid process that’s hard to catch but you certainly don’t want to be in the path of these monsters as they float up to 50 metres from shore.

Floating chunks of ice have destroyed fencing around the sewer re-lining work just north of the weir. Click to enlarge.

Hans Havermann has some excellent images from both sides of the river, taken yesterday while it was still blocked.

Residents bugged by bad behaviour

Westonians on Victoria Ave are being bothered by the poor behaviour of Mr. Automotives Sales and Finances, according to InsideToronto.

The dealership is taking up all the parking spots on Victoria, making it hard for residents to park, or even leave their driveways:

“They have the audacity to block my driveway,” DiMarco told The Guardian. “It’s getting really frustrating.”…

Mr. Automotives customers do park on the street, according to manager Laura Davidson. And, “there is some overflow (of the parking lot) while we do some juggling (of cars),” she said.

 

Job opportunites for youth this summer

With the weather like this, it’s hard to believe that there ever will be a summer. Nonetheless, Service Canada remains faithful, and will be having a summer jobs fair on January 17th at 5pm at 99D Ingram Drive.

The Toronto Police will also be hiring for their Youth In Policing Initiative. The information is in the poster below.


Child poverty report damns Weston

While the business world is a-tizzy with the minimum wage and the city consults on the budget in this election year, you should cast a glance today at the kids walking home from school. Four in ten of them are desperately poor. They are your neighbours.

40% of Weston children live in poverty; 37% of Mount Dennis children do, a number that has not budged in the last 5 years, according to a report done in November by Social Planning Toronto and other social agencies.

Map of child povertyAnd make no mistake: children in poverty are very poor indeed: their families make between $25,498 (one parent, one child) and $36,426 (two adults, two children). They are more likely to be Indigenous, visible minorities, recent immigrants or refugees, and members of single-parent families, according to the report.

% of racialized children in low-income families
Weston’s poverty rate is much higher than the rate in the city as a whole, which is, in turn, much higher than in the rest of the country. Toronto has the highest child-poverty rate of any city in Canada: roughly 25%—more than double the rate in Calgary or the Halton region.

Even in Toronto, though, child poverty is unequally distributed. North and north-central Toronto are rich because the poor are pushed to the margins, generally in the inner, older suburbs.

Unequal City has one simple recommendation: pay for all the things we’ve already promised:

In recent years the City has developed, and City Council has overwhelmingly approved, a range of strategies to improve access to training and good jobs, as well as key supports and services, by those who face the most barriers to success. However, many of these strategies have not been implemented because they have not been fully funded.

Doing so would be cheap: $66 million a year, if we don’t include housing, which “may be partly supported at the provincial level”. That, as the report points out, is less than 1% of the city’s budget.