An AMAZING new market has arrived in Weston Village.

This week I was invited to the opening of Amazing Mart – a family-run African/Canadian produce and grocery mart in the heart of Weston.
It was a pleasure to welcome the owners, Stewart, Mabel and their four children, who recently settled here from Nigeria. I was delighted to learn that the store has a namesake, their youngest daughter, ‘Amazing.’

They have experience in food retail/wholesale back home, specializing in various organic ingredients and delicacies. They are proud to be importing a selection of these and offering them in their store. You will find organic whole wheat flour, plantain flour, yam powder, specialty rice, nuts, spices, and the more exotic African-fare—abchi, ugbo, obgono, egusi, and more in the organic section. Mabel hopes people will be curious and ask about their African organic line.

There is fresh produce, much needed in Weston, and it will grow four-fold as new shelving arrives in the coming month. And there are Canadian breakfast cereals, beverages, and baking ingredients. It is early days, so know that there will be much more available in the coming months.

Stewart was enormously proud of the value they are offering; he has done a lot of comparison shopping since arriving in Canada and is excited to provide quality ingredients at low prices.

He and Mabel are so excited to be in Weston. “We want to be a blessing to the community,” says Stewart. “Weston is a place we are all equal. We want to help make this community great!”

As new Weston takes shape, this Amazing little Mart will be growing before our very eyes. I do hope you will stop in to say hi to Stewart, Mabel and family.

Jason Doolan, Mabel, their 4 kids, Stewart, and Harley Valentine (Castlepoint Numa – owner of the former TD Bank building).

Crime this year: down

Weston has long had a reputation as a bad neighbourhood. (I’ve long disagreed, but numbers only get you so far.)

As the year ends, we can compare crime rates to 2019. And they are good.

Crime rates, which were already low, fell considerably in 12 Division. Robberies, assaults, thefts, break-ins, sexual assaults and murders were less frequent. Only auto thefts were up.

Crime rates in 12 Division, image from the city

There could be many reasons for this, but it’s noteworthy that rime rates were down across the city. Doubtless, the pandemic paid a role.

Clearance in 12 Division, image from the city

The police also solved more crimes this year. The clearance rate jumped quite dramatically, to 78%.

Stream Messiah starring Weston’s Elliot Madore

Weston’s own Elliot Madore will be performing in an online Messiah, which is streamable until January 7.

The show is produced by Against The Grain Theatre, and it looks great. The producers say it is a “truly cross-Canada performance — in Arabic, Dene, English, French, Inuktitut, and Southern Tutchone, and accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra”.

Tickets are pay-what-you can (including free).

And I could be mistaken, but I think I see the Weston Lions Arena in the trailer.

Thanks to L for the tip!

Zayde Wisdom gives $5,000 to the Salvation Army

Zayde Wisdom has a lot of class. He grew up in poverty in Weston, and his family struggled to get by. You could celebrate him, then, spending his first big cheques from the Philadelphia Flyers on something that would be a hell of a lot of fun.

Instead, Zayde Wisdom gave $5,000 to the local Salvation Army.

What a guy.

Wisdom told the OHL, “I have a lot of tough memories, so my goal one day is to just help as many kids as possible from struggling growing up,” he said, “ I just want to give back to the community that gave so much to me.”

Ring Christmas bells on Christmas Eve.

People around the world are planning on ringing bells on their balconies and doorsteps at 6 pm Christmas Eve.

The ‘Worldwide Christmas Eve Jingle’ was started in North Yorkshire, England by a woman who thought the world could use a bit of joy this year. She said it’s for kids, so they can look back on 2020 with some fondness.

Your correspondent may have to download a bell app for his phone to make this happen—but perhaps a reader might, ahem, pull some strings at a local church? I have to plead complete ignorance: do churches ring bells any more? Are they allowed to do it just for fun?

Vacant home tax, garden suites may soon come to Toronto

It’s not strictly Weston related, but the city is proposing a vacant-homes tax that would charge people 1% of their home’s value every year if it is not occupied. The tax is to encourage more housing supply, and it should raise more than $55 million for the city.

It’s a great idea. Vancouver has had a vacancy tax for three years, and it seems to have correlated with a decline in unoccupied buildings. It has also raised about $50 million for the city.

Toronto hasn’t written the laws yet, but Vancouver makes exceptions for homes that are being sold, renovated, or cannot be rented due to condo-boards. If everything goes according to plan, Toronto could have a tax by 2022.

In other affordable-housing news, Toronto bureaucrats took another small step toward allowing ‘garden suites’ (aka granny flats) earlier this month. The city has been moving towards allowing attractive and (more) affordable infill housing.

I love the idea of turning my somewhat tatty garage into home for my kids when they get a little older. (My kids, and my neighbour, may disagree.) They’d have an affordable place to live, and I’d be able to continue to smother them.

A final report by the planning department should be ready by the middle of next year.