Stimulus programs in Weston

While people have been saying the recession has been over for more than a year, the economic stimulus programs keep chugging along.

There are very few stimulus projects in Weston, though: only four, in fact. Three of the four are quite small, too—only one is more than $100,000.

By a huge margin, the largest project is in Weston Lions Park. According to Laura Albanese’s speech on Monday, the city, province, and feds are building an inflatable recreation dome. The project will cost about $2 million.

Other projects are tiny by comparison:

  • Improvements in Pelmo Park—$99,000
  • Improvements in Pellatt Park—$99,000
  • Resurfacing of a laneway near Weston and Laurence—$80,000

Oddly, almost all of the money in Weston is being spent on parks. City-wide, there are 9 categories of spending, the biggest of which are transit, water, municipal buildings, and roads. Weston did not get any money to build projects within these categories. Your humble correspondent worries that we missed opportunities.

Yet while we might have forgone some government money, our big project was funded much better than the city average. The average park project within Toronto was given about $400,000. The Lions Park Dome was given quintuple that.

Crime down in Weston

There’s little to fear in Weston.

Toronto Police statistics show that fewer crimes were committed in Weston during the first six months of this year than in the first six months of 2009. Further, crimes have fallen more in Weston than in Toronto as a whole.

There have been fewer murders, sexual assaults, break and enters, and auto thefts so far this year. Thefts over $5000 and robberies are up, however.

In Toronto as a whole, 6.7% fewer crimes were committed than by this time last year. The decline occurred across all categories, too.

While some categories of crime in Weston increased, the total number of crimes declined 10%. Of course, summing the crimes so coarsely is a little disingenuous, since doing so does not take into account their seriousness—we would be willing to tolerate many more auto thefts than murders.

The police statistics do not suggest the cause of the declines.

Crimes to date, 2009 & 2010
percentchange
Percent change in crime, year over year

Grattan Park reopens

“I’d eat that park for supper”, my three-year-old daughter says. “That park is awesome.”

She’s right. The new-and-improved Grattan Park is really fantastic.  Gone are the teetertotters and vomit comets; now kids have spring-loaded surfboards, 10-foot wobbly nets, and other really cool play structures.

The park was officially reopened tonight, and more than 60 people showed up to see the ribbon cutting and unveiling. Councillor Frances Nunziata, MPP Laura Albanese, and mayoral candidate Rob Ford were there to say a few words and congratulate residents, planners, and municipal employees on the new park.

Kevin Bowser, the Manager of Parks for the western district spoke about the history of the park and the old children’s summer camp that once was in it. Nunziata spoke about how it had taken 15 years to have the park improved, and how it had deteriorated in the meantime.

Interestingly, Albanese mentioned the political distance between the municipality and the province. She said “I know that the province doesn’t always participate. But I’m glad to find out that we are at least participating in some improvements in the area of York-South Weston.”

Typically, Rob Ford kept his eye on the bottom line. “This is where money should be spent”, he said. “This is what I call smart spending”.

Man arrested for carrying loaded gun in Weston

Toronto Police are reporting that they arrested a man carrying a loaded pistol in the Lawrence and Weston Road area on Thursday.

Sean Wright, 25, was approached by officers who saw him carrying a handgun. He fled but was arrested soon after. There was a struggle during the arrest, and Wright “attempted to remove his handgun”.

Wright has been charged with 11 offenses, including assault, possession of a prohibited firearm, and possession of a firearm while prohibited.

That he has been previously prohibited from possessing a firearm indicates that this was not Wright’s first run-in with the law. He was carrying a Glock 9mm, a powerful, high-quality pistol carried by many police officers.

Weston community groups denied grants for AIDS projects

Two Weston community groups failed to get grants at the last City Council meeting. The grants would have run programs to slow the spread of AIDS and HIV among immigrants and addicts. Both applications were rejected by Council on the advice of the Board of Health.

Northwood Neighbourhood Centre applied for a grant of $29,ooo to provide HIV/AIDS awareness to newcomer parents. This application was rejected. The blow was likely worsened by the rejection of its other application for $31,000 to run a drug prevention program. It too was turned down.

The Weston King Neighbourhood Centre applied for a $83,000 grant to run a HIV/AIDS Harm Reduction Project. That grant was also denied.

Tn all, the city approved 41 of the 52 applications it received for AIDS/HIV projects. In total, it granted $1,574,960.

While more than 80% of the projects received city money, none of the projects from Ward 11 did.

Tonks draws three pensions, and that’s OK

Alan Tonks draws three handsome pensions from various levels of the civil service, according to the Canadian Press. Each of the pensions is more than $10,000 annually and in addition to his $157,731 annual salary as an MP. Tonks appears to be triple-dipping, but the appearance is incorrect.

The tone of Elizabeth Thompson’s article invites contempt. The story opens with a quote from a sitting MP:

““I think we earn enough money,” said Mr. Maloway, who estimates he is giving up $30,000 a year. “I don’t think anybody thinks MPs are underpaid.”

After a long name-and-shame list of sitting MPs who also draw pensions (among them Alan Tonks), the article concludes with a quote opposing the pensions:

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says he doesn’t have a problem with MPs collecting pensions from private companies but is troubled by MPs also getting pension cheques from governments.

“It does smack of problems for taxpayers when elected officials, in effect, end up double-dipping at taxpayer expense.”

Mr. Gaudet said more MPs should follow mr. [sic] Maloway’s example and voluntarily forgo other government pensions while they sit in the Commons.

While I, your humble editor, have never been unduly kind to Tonks, Thompson’s article is unfair. There is no good principle that would require MPs to forgo public pensions. Those pensions were voluntarily agreed to by employer and employee. Nobody objects to private pensions or to personal wealth among MPs; public pensions are no different: they are a part of the total compensation given to public servants.

Asking MPs to return their public pensions is asking for a double standard. It is saying that those in the public sector deserve a lower real salary than those in the private sector. Demanding the money’s return is also unfair. It is asking for money made fairly to be repaid. It is, in short, asking former public servants (and only public servants) to pay for the privilege of serving in the House.

While a $160,000 salary seems to me quite generous, Tonks should not be singled out merely because he has worked in the public sector for decades.

Weston King Neighbourhood Centre barbeque was a success

Even though it was a scorching day, dozens of people lined up for burgers at the Weston King Neighbourhood Centre community barbecue in Little Memorial Park on Saturday.

Many community groups were out to raise consciousness about the work they are doing in Weston. WKNC, Frontlines, the Hispanic Centre, the Active Living Centre, and others displayed their work in booths set up around the park.

With thanks to M. Lennon for reporting.