Police ask residents to leave lights on

31 Division police say, unsurprisingly, that there has been a rash of vehicle break and enters. Cars in Weston are certainly broken into often; the burglars try the handles in the middle of the night and take anything of value—and frequently anything not of value.

The police are now asking residents to leave their homes’ outside lights on to deter thefts. They say “a neighbourhood that has plenty of lighting is more secure for you and your neighbours. ”

The police are also asking residents to report “strangers loitering or sitting in parked cars near homes or knocking on doors.”

Profile of Weston TCHC housing: Dangerous, dirty, deserving

As Rob Ford cleans house at the TCHC, it is worth reflecting on what Toronto Community Housing does—and doesn’t do—for its residents in Weston.

There are two public housing projects in town, one at 1901 Weston Rd, just north of Lawrence, and one at 5 Bellevue, just south of it. Both are high-rise apartments, and both, according to a recent report by the United Way, are likely fraught with problems. Poverty by Postal Code 2: Vertical Poverty says that the non-profit housing in Toronto is quite bad, and worse in many ways than for-profit housing.

It says that income inequality has grown in Toronto, and that the poor have become much poorer over the past 20 years. The City of York, which includes Weston, is the poorest borough in Toronto. In York, the average renting household makes only $28,000 a year, down from $34,500 25 years ago.

Children suffer, too: since “2005, more than one out of every four City of Toronto families with children under the age of eighteen was low-income, up from one-in-six in 1990”.

While the poor live in high-rise housing, the poorest of the poor live in non-profit high-rises. Two-thirds of non-profit tenants make less than $20,000 a year, and 43% are on social assistance. A quarter have a disability, and one in ten has a serious mental health problem.

Non-profit renters do pay very little for their homes. On average, they pay only only $373 a month for rent. For that, though, they get a lot of problems:

  • 21% say that they had been attacked in the past year on the grounds of the building
  • 71% say they have roaches or mice.
  • 40% say that drugs or drug dealing are a problem

In addition to the social and sanitation problems, the physical condition of the buildings is worse than in the private sector. The elevators break down more often, and the common areas are in worse repair.

Your humble correspondent may be the only person in Toronto who does not begrudge the employees of TCHC their Christmas party or spa trips. That stuff is small potatoes in a budget of $300 million. Trips and chocolates make for good headlines, but he worries much more about the millions misspent on competition-free contracts. Those contracts could have put as much as $60 in the pockets of each of the tenants in Toronto Community Housing—money they could certainly spend better than the members of the board.


Child dead in Weston blaze

The child caught in the apartment fire on Rosemount on Sunday night has died, according to CP24. Her mother died at the scene.

The Toronto Star has a long article on this sad story.

Neither article mentions the whereabouts or state of the child’s father, who was, according to neighbours, probably at work on the night of the fire.

Thanks to Anon for the tip.

Fatal fire on Rosemount

A fire on the fifth floor of the low-rise apartment building at 150 Rosemount has killed a woman and left her child in critical condition.

The fire broke out shortly before midnight last night. According to residents, the building was evacuated until about 3 am. The evacuees were held in a TTC bus and in the homes of welcoming neighbours.

Neighbours say the woman was about 40, and the girl was about 3. The woman died in the fire, and the child was brought out on a stretcher while paramedics performed resuscitation. The father of the child was not at home; he works nights, neighbours said.

The cause of the fire is not yet public. Forensic investigators were at the site this morning.

Thanks to the tipster.

Nunziata uses position to further Ford budget

Frances Nunziata played a key role in the budget debate of this week. As Speaker of City Council, she forbade discussing the budget of 2012. She ruled that debating the effect of this year’s budget on next year’s was out of order.

This appears to have been an important decision, and it has caught a bit of heat from the blogs and alternative papers this week.

Long-serving left-leaning Councillor Joe Mihevc said  “We are creating a crisis that will make it impossible for us to go without real pain in 2012.”

Janet Davis, whose questions were ruled out of order, said “It’s outrageous, that has never happened in this chamber before”. She said, “he has cut taxes…spent the entire surplus, spent the entire reserves and made the hole for 2012 deeper and it’ll be harder to get out of.”

Nunziata was nominated to the Speaker position as a tip of the hat for supporting Ford in last year’s election. I had thought that the Speaker position was largely ceremonial, but she has shaped the tone and the content of council meetings.



Police warn of purse snatchers

12 Division police are warning women to be careful and pay attention their surroundings. They caution that there has been a number of purse snatchings in the area. Worryingly, they also warn that when “the victim has resisted the suspect has resorted to physical assault to get the purse.”

The muggers seem to target middle-age or older women. There were two reported snatchings in recent weeks at the corner of Jane and Lawrence.

Police suggest to only carry what you need on a day-to-day basis. Your humble reporter suggests having your husband carry your purse whenever possible. That has worked for his wife.