Governor General Comes To Weston

Friday January 14.

This afternoon, Canada’s Governor General, David Johnston flew in from Ottawa to lend support to the Habitat for Humanity project at 1500 Weston Road. The complex of 20 energy efficient townhouses will provide safe, decent and affordable homes for 96 people currently living in sub-standard housing in Toronto.

Governor General David Johnston chats to a Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

The Governor General’s support came in the form of adding his presence to the Habitat For Humanity project thus providing moral support but he is no slouch when it comes to hammering a nail and laying down flooring. He worked on the second floor of a home that will be completed this spring.

His Excellency nails down a floor to the delight of assorted photographers.

The townhome complex is being built almost entirely by volunteers from the community as well as the eventual homeowners.

Governor General David Johnston talking with volunteers.

After putting in his work shift, his excellency moved to a marquee where he chatted informally with volunteers and community partners.  Later, he spoke about the contribution that Habitat For Humanity has made in many countries around the world and the dedication of volunteers who lend their muscle and expertise. Habitat For Humanity is an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing safe and decent housing at a reasonable cost.

His Excellency speaks to volunteers and Habitat staff.

The first residents will be moving in on Saturday and others will be moving in as the units are completed. A resident who will be among  the first to move in described her excitement and feeling of accomplishment and thankfulness at being able to move into a home of her own. The head of Habitat in Canada, Stewart Hardacre said that in his experience children raised in Habitat homes consistently graduate from university.

Weston bus threatened for no reason

The TTC made a mathematical mistake when it put the 59 Maple Leaf weekend route on the chopping block, according to the influential transit pundit Steve Munro.

To meet the demands of Rob Ford’s new budget, the TTC wanted to increase fares and decrease service. Tokens were to go up 10¢, and nighttime and weekend routes were to be trimmed. The only bus that runs through Weston, the 59 Maple Leaf, was to lose service after 10 pm on weeknights and 7 pm on weekends.

But now it seems that the Maple Leaf weekend bus should never have been on the list.  Munro says:

59 Maple Leaf: Weekday late evening service carries 14.3 boardings/hour,  not 9.5 as stated by the TTC.  The calculation appears to have been done as if there were 3 buses on the route, not 2.  Saturday early evening service carries 16.5 boardings/hour while Sunday early evening service carries 27.0!  Neither of these meets the criterion for a service cut. [My emphasis]

The TTC’s criterion for a cut is 15 riders per hour. The weekday service, then, is very close to being saved, and the weekend service should not have been considered.

Steve Munro is a very influential and very knowledgeable transit blogger and pundit who is regularly quoted in major media. He says of the report:

The TTC’s analysis shows the hallmarks of something pulled together quickly as a way to satisfy a demand for cuts without taking care to look at what is happening or to validate the accuracy of the calculations.

The TTC has backed down on its plans to cut service and raise fares—for now. According to Munro, they’re likely taking a pause in the name of propriety.

Proposed Service cuts on “under performing” TTC routes have been put off for a few weeks while politicians cover their butts, “consult” their constituents, and then reluctantly approve management proposals.

Jane St Hub official opening

The Jane Street Hub will have its official opening on January 20th at 10 am. Several celebrities will be there, including the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews, and Matt Galloway, host of Metro Morning on the people’s radio.

The Jane Street Hub is a one-stop health and social services agency. Among other services, visitors can get

  • Health care
  • Settlement services
  • Child minding and parenting help
  • Women’s services
  • Youth programs
  • Counselling

The Hub has been in the works since 2007 and first opened its doors in October. It is at 1541 Jane St. All are welcome.

Arstcape to report findings about hub in Weston/Mt Dennis

Artscape, an arts group that played a large role in refurbishing the Wychwood Barns and the Distillery District, has something planned for Weston and Mount Dennis. They will be revealing some of the details on Wednesday, January 26, at 6:30 pm at the Legion in Mt Dennis.

The City of Toronto asked Artscape to undertake a “feasibility study” for an arts hub in our neighbourhood. The meeting this month will reveal what they found.

According to Liz Kohn, Director of Communications, the plans are still in an early stage. But given the great success Artscape has had in the past, Westonians might reasonably hope for something big.

York Weston Community Centre’s swan song

The Globe and Mail has an article covering the closing of a community hub in Weston. The York Weston Community Services Centre provides settlement services primarily to Sudanese newcomers. Cuts to its funding are forcing it to close.

Sudan is having a referendum to determine whether the south of the country will separate. Interestingly, the community centre in Weston is one of only two places in all of Canada where Sudanese expatriates can vote.

According to the article, after the referendum, the York Weston Community Services Centre will close because it is underperforming and because fewer immigrants are settling here.

As far back as 2008, CIC had identified critical weaknesses in York Weston’s governance structure. It claimed the centre had failed to meet benchmarks in service delivery as well as its obligations under the terms and conditions of its contribution agreement with CIC.

In 2009, a new, reform-minded board of directors was elected and began to work on addressing CIC’s concerns. It submitted its first progress report to CIC that December. The board also fired its executive director last summer and replaced him with John Doughty, a specialist in crisis management and turnaround in non-profits.

Maple Leaf bus to be trimmed

The Maple Leaf bus route, which runs through Weston, will have reduced nighttime service under the new city budget.

The new budget includes several proposed changes to the TTC. Token fares and Metropasses will be more expensive, and some less-used routes will be cut.

The TTC recommends eliminating service on the 59 Maple Leaf route after 7 pm on weekends and after 10 pm on weeknights. Presently, the bus runs every half-an-hour until 1 am. If the recommendations are enacted, 14 buses will be eliminated on weekday nights and 13 will be eliminated on Saturdays and Sundays.

Route 59 runs from Lawrence West Station on the Spadina Line to Weston Road. It goes through Weston on Church and Gary/Oak streets. During the morning rush hour, it runs every 11 minutes; during the evening rush hour, it runs every 20. After 7 pm and on weekends, service is reduced to every half an hour.