Today in Weston

A wild turkey was grazing quietly today in Cruickshank Park.

Two of us were photographing the rare sight when a large white dog got loose from its owner and chased the turkey down the length of the park, its flexi-leash flailing after it. The turkey and dog were last seen heading south. Fortunately, wild turkeys can fly and the two of them disappeared towards the river.

The owner’s response was, “That f***ing dog”. Mine was, “That f***ing owner”.  According to another dog owner, this particular dog is allowed to run loose quite often.

Nunziata supports Tory’s changes to policing

In her most recent email circular, Frances Nunziata says she supports Mayor Tory’s proposed changes to policing in Toronto. The changes

The changes are in three categories:

  1. Creating “alternative service delivery models for community safety response, particularly for individuals experiencing mental health crises, which would not involve police officers attending the scene”
  2. Managing a “fundamental re-alignment of the City’s budget priorities that focuses on the most marginalized in our community, to ensure they have the supports they require to address the root causes of crime”.
  3. Implementing “in full” recommendations to “stamp out discrimination in policing and improve response to people in crises” and review the police budget line-by-line with the Auditor General.

Tory also wants the police to wear body cameras by January 1, 2021.

Nunziata said that she supports the mayor’s recommendations. “They provide a comprehensive framework for a calculated approach to reallocating police funding toward community-led crisis intervention programs, and propose to re-align the City’s budget priorities to put an even greater focus on a robust system of social supports and services, including ongoing investments in Black, Indigenous and marginalized communities.”

She also sits on the Toronto Police Services Board.

Mount Dennis Station drone footage

Here’s the latest drone footage of the Mount Dennis Eglinton Crosstown station showing the latest progress in building the structures needed to connect Mount Dennis to the rest of the line. The Kodak building features prominently and the scale of the project can be appreciated from the air. An impressive entrance is shaping up on Eglinton. Let’s hope we actually get to use the line one day!

Enjoy.

Another food outlet for Weston

The site of the new Church’s Texas Chicken in 2018. (file)

Atlanta based Church’s Texas Chicken (formerly known as Church’s Chicken) will soon have a franchisee occupying the old Bank of Montreal building (the bank where time stood still™) on Weston at John Street. It will be a stone’s throw from the Popeye’s Chicken just up the street and directly across from P&M Restaurant. Close by are Pizza Pizza and Zeal Burgers to name but a few. Yet another food outlet in a small area seems to be a gamble on the part of the chain but at least it’s one less prominently empty building in Weston.

Church’s will begin renovations after July 1st when they take over the building.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the exterior of the old 1906 building constructed for the Bank of British North America. It was in continuous use as a bank for over a century, gaining the Bank of Montreal name in 1918 when the two banks merged.

Let’s hope the exterior renovation won’t be too garish. Perhaps the Weston Historical Society knows when and why the second storey was removed. The brick building further along John Street looks to be where Peter the Barber’s is today. Could it be the same building?

The bank building during construction in 1906. Adapted from the Toronto Public Library image. (Click to enlarge)

Nunziata opposes defunding the police

Frances Nunziata opposes defunding the police—the international movement to reduce police budgets and redirect the money to other social programs. Her position is nuanced, though: she does believe “there are concrete ways in which the City can improve on emergency responses and replace armed police officers with mobile, community-based crisis programs to de-escalate and triage non-criminal incidents”. She also says that she supports funding for social programs as alternatives to the criminal justice system.

Nunziata says she will oppose a City Council motion that would cut the police’s $1.22 billion budget by 10%.

In an email forwarded to me, she said:

Our society is coming to a touchstone moment for a necessary shift in the way we approach racial injustice, policing, and crisis response. I have been genuinely inspired by the spirited dedication and motivation I am seeing and hearing from residents – and especially youth – across our city. This is a time to express emotions, have what are often considered those ‘uncomfortable’ conversations, and address what comes out of these conversations in engaged, thoughtful and effective ways.

I do not support the motion to defund the Toronto Police Service by ten percent. While I appreciate the emotion behind it, I do not agree with the recommendations.

There is undoubtedly a need to engage in the conversation and indeed take action on the issues and injustices that are being discussed, but I do not believe that this motion is the way forward.

I wholeheartedly support allocating funding for community-led alternatives to policing and the criminal justice system, anti-racism education, programs identified in the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, childcare, affordable housing, Tenants’ Defence Fund and food security.

There are still a number of days before City Council and I am listening to all sides of the conversation.

At the Toronto Police Services Board meeting on June 19th, a Motion by Board Member Uppala Chandrasekera was put forward with recommendations for the Board related to current events. The Board referred the report back to the Chair to allow time to engage in broad public consultation on it. I look forward to hearing these discussions.

I do believe that there are concrete ways in which the City can improve on emergency responses and replace armed police officers with mobile, community-based crisis programs to de-escalate and triage non-criminal incidents involving mental health, addictions and homeless individuals. I also believe that these solutions should be decided in consultation with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community-led organizations and mental health, restorative justice and legal experts.

 

Another Consequence of Covid-19

The (now deceased) Bank of Montreal branch on Weston Road and John Street. The bank where time stood still.

According to a friend in the banking business, online banking has expanded hugely during the pandemic. People who until recently have resisted modern technology are being been forced into the digital age. Huge resources have been diverted into teaching these customers how to use internet banking over the phone and apparently once they have tried it, many have found it surprisingly easy and have indicated they will continue after Covid goes away (2022?). They have been pleased with how easy it is to move money between accounts and don’t miss waiting in line although many also regret losing contact with a human teller.

As a result of the adoption of online banking by many more people, my source tells me that bank bosses are accelerating plans to close branches earlier than they dared hope a few months ago. We’re down to a precious few branches in Weston. Let’s hope that some will remain.

Thought of the day: Did you ever imagine that one day you’d put on a mask and enter a bank?

Bikeshare in Weston Lions Park

I do believe that Weston has finally arrived. We just got our very own Bikeshare station, at Weston Lions Park.

On June 16, Bikeshare announced their new station, with 23 parking spots (but only 4 bikes as I write this).

Bikeshare bikes
Photo by Bikeshare

Though I’m delighted, I won’t claim I follow the logic: Bikeshare rides nicely fix the last-mile problem for commuters and tourists—how do you get from a subway stop to your meeting? It’s less clear what they’ll be used for here, since we are well removed from the rest of the system, the docking stations are not at the UPX, and rides get a bit expensive  after the first 30 minutes.

Perhaps they’re meant for touring the beautiful bike paths beside the Humber River, and that’s a great use for them! I’ve loved renting bikes in cities I get to visit. I just can’t imagine that many tourists coming here (yet!).

While Weston got bikes first, Bikeshare says they’re expanding to Mount Dennis and Rockcliffe-Smythe this year. The details are hard to find, but I’ve asked.

The system now has 6,850 bikes and 625 stations across the city.