A busy weekend in Weston

Despite the light rain, it couldn’t have been a better weekend in Weston..

The market was jumping, and not just in the two bouncy castles. At least four different entertainers worked the crowd with everything from accordions to Elvis. Business looked brisk for the vendors too, as one would expect in strawberry and asparagus season.

The Queens Drive 23rd annual yard sale packed both sides of the street with visitors. There were odds and ends and antiques for sale, and several young entrepreneurs were raising money for charity—at one stand, lemonade was 25¢ and cookies were 10¢, and the proceeds went to juvenile diabetes.

Elizabeth Laregina, Cher Dawson, and Gemma were also raising money for a cause. They were selling flowers in support of Weston Memorial Public School. Laregina said that they had raised over $500 from the sale of donated flowers.

Cher Dawson dug many of the plants for sale from her own garden. She has been selling them for “going on 10 years”, and said “I just love gardening, and I love nature… I like to help out the school”.

Gemma told my daughter, “It’s a great school. You’ll love it.”

Weston-area supermarket given a conditional pass in health inpection

In news from the ick file, the large Weston-area Blue Sky Supermarket was given a scathing review by Toronto Public Health. The market did, however, receive a conditional pass.

The Blue Sky Supermarket is across from the Sheridan Mall and beside the No Frills at the corner of Wilson and Jane. On May 25, inspectors found that it

  • Failed to protect products from contamination by storing food off the ground
  • Did not remove garbage when necessary or clean the floor of the food preparation area
  • Did not provide soap or towels in the food preparation area or in the washrooms

Excuse the poor quality picture.

Weston butcher shop given conditional pass in health inspection

Weston-area butcher shop Lauri Meat Market was given only a conditional pass after its health inspection on June 1.

Lauri Meat Market is at 1696 Jane St, in the plaza north of Lawrence.

Inspectors found many significant infractions:

  • A failure to provide hand washing supplies
  • A failure to provide food sanitation supplies
  • No washroom supplies
  • Improper removal of waste

There were also “minor” infractions: not washing surfaces and not providing the proper equipment for washing or sanitizing surfaces and equipment.

Lauri Meat Market has passed two previous inspections. Because it was given a conditional pass, it will have been reinspected by now. The results of that inspection have not yet been posted.

Lauri meat market
Lauri Meat Market

The heat is on Metrolinx

Metrolinx has been spanked in public by the Toronto City Council. Again.

Metrolinx is the public agency that governs regional transit; notably, it is responsible for the increased GO Train and Airport Express traffic that will run through Weston. Metrolinx is often criticized by politicians and transit advocates for being opaque, adversarial, and disrespectful of public input.

In a motion passed yesterday, City Council said Metrolinx is “highly streamlined, one-way, and not in any way [open to] meaningful or respectful of community input”, Council moved that the agency should be “open, transparent, and accountable to the public by requiring it to conduct its meetings in public… provide advance public notice of meetings; allow public deputations; and publish all reports, agendas, and minutes.

This isn’t the first time Metrolinx has been given a whupping, but City Council may be the most powerful and unified group yet to have taken off its belt.

Pressure lightens on payday loan shops

Toronto City Council has shot down proposals from the Etobicoke York Community Council that would have pressured payday loan operations.

Last month the Etobicoke York Community Council started pursuing the payday loan shops sprouting up around Weston. There are now at least 10 within walking distance. These shops cash cheques and give extremely high-interest short-term loans. The Etobicoke council voted to inspect the payday loan businesses in Weston—even though what it was hoping to find was never very clear. It gave vague instructions to look for “problems” and “issues”.

The much smaller community council wanted the full Toronto City Council and its staff to “determine what regulations are necessary to eliminate the problems”, “address the issues arising from this type of business” and to see if the city can license the payday loan offices. However, the Toronto council ruled Etobicoke’s recommendations out of order, and they were withdrawn.

It now seems that the community council will only have the director of municipal licensing and standards inspect the shops; it is not clear what, if anything, she or he will be able to do.

City Council spanks Metrolinx

Toronto City Council spanked Metrolinx in public today. It’s likely to spank them again tomorrow.

Council voted to ask the Province to “require the Air Rail link between Union Station and Pearson Airport to be electrified by year 2015 as a demonstration project for regional transit.” In other words, the Province should just tell Metrolinx to electrify the line and skip the studies.

City politicians were asked to do this by the Parks and Environment committee, on which Weston’s councillor (Frances Nunziata) sits. This motion seems to imply that the electrification issue is settled as far as the city is concerned.

Tomorrow Council will vote on whether Metrolinx should be spanked again. A motion asks “the Ontario Government [to] amend the governance of Metrolinx to make it open, transparent, and accountable to the public by requiring it to conduct its meetings in public, consistent with the rules governing municipal government; provide advance public notice of meetings; allow public deputations; and publish all reports, agendas, and minutes.”

City Council seems to be going toe-to-toe with Metrolinx by calling them unaccountable, closed, and opaque and by asking them to lay off the studies and get started building. Of course, City Council is asking to spend other people’s money—and the province is not likely to dance to the pauper’s tune.

Plank Road building being repaired

While the workers on site were secretive about the renovation, I was able to get inside the Plank Road building on Tuesday for a brief look around.

It looks rough. And good. And it looks like it’s getting better.

According to the workers, the building has been empty for 60 years and has suffered many fires. Still, while some of the wood is charred inside, the space is undeniably beautiful and the building’s bones are strong.

I wasn’t able to take pictures, but the building has three floors with a central staircase and two large rooms on the main floor. The workers are replacing at least the joists and the interior walls; they said they are “basically cleaning up, fixing walls and stuff”. Some of the old framing remains, though, and the space looks like it will be open and inviting.

The workers had no idea when the building would be done, and it will certainly be a while. There is a lot of work left to do.

They said, though, that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the building; it just suffers from “old age”. That can’t be a surprise: the Plank Road building is one of the oldest buildings in Ontario. In fact, it is older than Canada; it was built a quarter-century before Confederation.

According to the workers, the building’s owner will be putting the space up for rent when renovations are complete.

Plank building