Frances Nunziata seconded a motion at City Hall this week that would use volunteers to pick up the pace of protecting heritage properties in Toronto.
The city has a register of heritage properties, but “there has been increasing frustration with the City’s ability to protect heritage buildings”. under ‘development’ pressures.
The motion asks the city to consider using volunteers¹ to get vulnerable properties to the first ‘listing’ stage of heritage protection, which entitles the property to a review by city staff before being demolished. It’s no guarantee that the property will be saved.
¹ I despair when the hard work of civil service must be done by volunteers.
Next week, the Parks and Environment committee will consider a $1 million proposal to give free trees to residents through the TreeForMe program. We could get in on that, but someone needs to organize a community event to make it happen.
Currently, Toronto has between 20% and 28% canopy cover, and Weston–Mount Dennis is roughly average, with about 25% coverage. However, the trees face serious pressure from Asian longhorn beetles, ash borers, and climate change; and canopy cover has barely grown over the past decade. The ash borer alone could kill 8.4% of the trees in the city. The forestry department is also facing an after-inflation budget cut.
To fight the dangers, the TreeForMe program will give one or two of a large variety of native trees (I got matched with a serviceberry!) to interested participants who participate in a community event. The good people of Rockcliffe–Smythe, to our south, have organized one, and are expecting to distribute about 150 trees on May 13—an effort upon which residents might piggyback.
But wouldn’t it be better to host one ourselves, perhaps to distribute at the grand opening of the Farmers’ Market in June? Think of the benefits: more clean air, habitat, shade… and community spirit.
The Weston Heritage Conservation District is organizing what your correspondent believes is the first-ever Weston Jane’s Walk.
Jane’s Walks are neighbourhood tours in honour of Jane Jacobs, urban planning critic and theorist.
The Welcome to Weston Walk will show how deep roots can enrich the present while still leaving room for the future. The stops involve a youth drop in, the Weston Heritage Conservation District, a modern Doctor’s clinic in a former Post Office, a multifaceted Artscape project, the evolution of Grand Trunk train station to one for the GO train and UP Express and the Historical Society Archives!
The Weston walk will be May 6 at 10 am, and will start in the GO Station parking lot. It should last about an hour.
MoneySense magazine released a survey of Canada’s neighbourhoods called “Where to buy now”, and Mount Dennis ranks near the very top, coming in 13th of 142 of Toronto’s communities.
The rankings were determined by value relative to nearby areas, price momentum, and real-estate agent juju. Mount Dennis did very well on almost all measures, and it remains a steal, despite the huge improvements in transit coming to the neighbourhood: homes are only 60% the price of the average in Toronto.
Weston also did well: 59 out of 142. Home prices are similarly good, only 65% of the average across Toronto. Weston, like Mount Dennis, got only three stars out of five, however, from the real-estate agents.
A word about methods:
Your correspondent has little good to say about the idea of momentum—it could signal that a neighbourhood is on the way up, or it could indicate that the smart money won and the deals are gone.
Because the agents’ methods were not explained, it’s hard to criticize or endorse them. They seem to be based on, ahem, patrician values: walkability, commutes, and transit not among them; Richmond Hill and Markham received the realtors’ top grades.
The idea, though, of value compared to neighbouring communities is very intriguing! All other things being equal, a cheap house a stone’s throw from a swish hood seems likely to do well.
Crime is diving in 12 Division, according to the most recent batch of police statistics, even though crime across the city is, on the whole, unchanged on a year-to-year basis.
In Toronto, robberies and thefts over $5000 are up about 10%, while assaults and sexual assaults are down very slightly (murders, which are so rare as to be of very dubious statistical use, are down 44%).
In Weston, Mount Dennis, and the rest of 12 Division, the numbers are down almost across the board. Auto thefts are up 7%, but B&Es and robberies are down by about 25%. Sexual assaults have been reduced by 10%. Thefts over $5000 and murders, being very rare, have no value as indicators of a trend, but they are down substantially, too.
The statistics were released at the end of March, and measure crime on a year-to-date basis. Obviously, things good change, but the first quarter of 2017 was certainly very good indeed.