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

Nunziata votes for three-billion-dollar, one-stop subway

Frances Nunziata voted at City Council this week in favour of a wasteful subway.

The Scarborough subway, which will cost $3.5 billion, will have one stop, at the Scarborough Town Centre. It will lead to longer rides, have fewer stops, and be more expensive than better alternatives.

The Scarborough subway was endorsed by Rob Ford. I will say no more.

Catch the fast train

Bruce McCuaig, the CEO of Metrolinx for the past seven years, has taken a new job at the federal government. Among other things, McCuaig oversaw the disastrous rollout of the UP Express.

The UPX had tanking ridership, spiking fares, and millions upon millions of dollars wasted in pursuit of the elusive executive traveller desiring public transit. To stop the bleeding, it was converted, at the province’s insistence, into an affordable ride for the proles. McCuaig made $361,114 a year for his services.

Kathy Haley, the president of only the UPX was ‘reorganized‘ out of work in 2016.

 

It’s a Battery

Koh Samui Thailand, March 29, 2017

The Kodak Building on the Kodak Lands. (File)

Sometimes here at Weston Web we feel that we’re a voice in the wilderness as we battle the forces of darkness. Now and again though something happens to give us hope.

Ever since it was announced, we at Weston Web have been advocating against the gas powered generator planned for the old Kodak lands in Mount Dennis. The generator would have provided emergency power in the rare event of an outage for trains on the Eglinton Crosstown Line opening in 2021.

While most in our community knew that a polluting generator was a terrible idea, few knew that the generator was planned for routine use and not just for emergencies (it would require several minutes to fire up so operating all the time would eliminate the start-up delay).

Residents came out to meetings and demanded a green solution. Solar energy, while clean would not have provided nearly enough power to do the job; especially in winter (paving every square inch of the Kodak lands would not have been enough even at solar noon in summer). Gas proponents knew this and the generator looked like a done deal.

Then an idea took off.

Weston Web proposed battery power more than a year ago to Metrolinx’s Jamie Robinson as an alternative to a polluting generator. At the time, a battery solution was not on the table and hopelessly inadequate solar panels were seen as the only alternative. Instead of polluting the neighbourhood, a large scale battery can store power when it’s cheap overnight and use it during the day when needed. Battery technology is now up to the job and is set to transform the way electricity is delivered. For some time now, Mount Dennis has proposed that it become a net zero community. Battery technology fits right into this proposal.

Yesterday, Metrolinx announced that battery technology will provide emergency power to the Crosstown Line when needed.

What are the lessons to be learned from this political success story?

First it helps if a good idea is given a fair hearing (kudos to Metrolinx for being open to suggestions from the community).

Second, a strong political lobby group in the Mount Dennis Residents Association was able to bend politicians’ ears.

Third, an overall and compelling community theme that fits the agenda – in this case a net-zero community that all parties could buy into.

Lastly, and to blow our own trumpet just a little, community reporting can play a meaningful role in political decision making.

With this stunning success, Mount Dennis is well on its way to achieving the goal of being a net zero community.

Timeline:

February 2016: Battery technology suggested by Weston Web at community information meeting organized by Councillors Nunziata and DiGiorgio.

February 2016: MP Ahmed Hussen expresses concern at emission levels from a gas generator.

March 2016, Laura Albanese comes out in favour of a green technology solution.

May 2016: City staff call battery technology too expensive.

July 2016: Jason Rioux, Vice President of NRSTOR, confirmed at a Mount Dennis Community Association meeting that battery storage is capable of providing large scale emergency power.

March 2017: Metrolinx announces battery storage technology as an emergency power solution.

Building licensing on the books

ACORN, a local anti-poverty group, may score a big win in City Council this week as a 17 year-long struggle to license landlords comes to fruition.

On the 28th, Council will decide whether to make landlords more accountable by:

  • Making them register with the city
  • Track issues in the building
  • Have a notification board
  • Manage pests and garbage

The new laws will apply to all buildings with 10 or more units and 3 or more floors. It will improve on the current system by not being complaint driven.

ACORN  got its start in Weston in 2004, and has been pushing for landlord licensing since.

 

Upcoming events

Mount Dennis is having an eco neighbourhood meeting on April 3 at the Mount Dennis Library. It sounds like a great initiative.

The Weston Historical Society is having its AGM on Wednesday April 5th. at The Village of Humber Heights Retirement Home, 2245 Lawrence Avenue West, at 7:30 p.m.

The guest speaker will be Dr. Robert Galway, speaking no the Tretheway Model Farm and Plaque Project.”


UrbanArts is hosting an ongoing participatory art project called “My City My Six”. They will be having “My City My Six workshops in creative writing, spoken word & poetry, digital story-telling and comedy.”

Selling out Sanctuary: Westonian’s article in Now

One of Weston’s finest, Ken Theobald, has an article in Now Magazine well worth the read.

On Queen one block east of Parliament, under a playground beside St. Paul’s Basilica, there’s a mass grave. Some 800 migrants escaping the Irish Famine were buried here, victims of a typhus epidemic in 1847. The cemetery that once occupied the site was closed in 1857, the tombstones destroyed. Now this mass grave is complicating school expansion plans.