Frances Nunziata to represent Rob Ford at Gay Pride celebration

Frances Nunziata, the City Councillor for Weston, will represent Mayor Rob Ford at the Gay Pride celebrations next week.

Mayor Ford is going to his cottage for weekend of the Gay Pride Parade; he has been widely condemned as a result.

Councillor Janet Davis said his absence would be “an embarrassment” while Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam called it a “grave mistake.”

“It sends the wrong message to the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community, he has a ways to go to making amends,” said Councillor Wong-Tam, whose ward includes the gay village on Church Street. She noted that Mr. Ford never marched in the parade during his 10 years as councillor, and has argued against using city money to fund the Pride parade.

Mayor Ford has opposed city funding for any kind of parade in the past; in 2007 he opposed Pride funding because he did not think the city should support

Councillor Nunziata will be taking Ford’s place at the rainbow flag raising at City Hall on Monday.

Hurricane Hazel – Iconic Art Memorial Fades

Back in 2002, local artist Mario Noviello was commissioned to decorate the Eastern abutment of the old Humber footbridge. Mario’s concept was brilliant—to illustrate the old bridge and neighbourhood and replicate the front pages of several newspapers reporting on the disaster. All this was using remnants of the old bridge as a ‘canvas’. This is one of the many bridges swept away during Hurricane Hazel. Mario’s beautifully executed and extensive set of murals covered the abutment telling the story of that fateful night in 1954. Many more photographs of the mural are here.

Sadly, the mural has not withstood the elements well and has almost faded to the point of oblivion.

The main mural showing the old footbridge - photo taken in 2002

When I spoke with Mario in 2004 after the mural and plaques were unveiled, he told me that an anti-graffiti coating placed over the murals was already leading to a deterioration of the underlying paint.

Cutting the ribbon at the official opening, October 16, 2004; from left Rob Draper, Alan Tonks, Mario Noviello, Julian Fantino, Elaine Heaton and Frances Nunziata.



The mural as it looks today.

This corner of Lions Park is the nearest thing we have to a shrine commemorating the victims of the hurricane and, along with plaques describing the event, draws many a school group, walking tour, pedestrian and cyclist on their way through the park system. Thieves took about 5 minutes to remove the original cast metal plaques on either side of the new bridge—now replaced with plastic ones.  It’s truly a shame that the mural is in such poor shape. Hopefully, one day it can be restored to its former glory.


A note on crime reporting on WestonWeb

I never like covering the crime stories. I know that these are the stories that stick in people’s minds.

But Weston is doing just fine. Crime is dramatically down.

In the past 10 months, there have been 22 reported street robberies. That’s about two a month. The bulk of them are robberies of teens by teens, and many are done right after school gets out. Subtracting those (for no good reason but that they resemble bullying and are unlikely to be the kind of crime that threatens a WestonWeb reader), we are left with 11 street robberies—about one a month—few of which ended in injury.

This is 11 robberies too many, to be sure. But Weston is a city within a city, and a certain amount of crime is understandable, if regrettable. And even that amount of crime is decreasing. Police statistics show there has been even less crime this year. All kinds of crime are down, and by large numbers.¹ Total crime is down too, and dramatically: -15% in north Weston and -25% in south Weston.  Robberies, which we have had a rash of lately, are down in both 12 and 31 Divisions.

I hope you’ll keep these facts in mind as you read the bad news here. I publish this bad news because it’s important. It’s important so that we keep the police and the politicians on their toes. It’s important that people know we are watching. But bad news is probably not important to you: you and yours are very unlikely to be the victim of a violent crime—and less likely to be one now than in years.

At WestonWeb, you read about events that would never have made it to the big papers and you read about places you know very well. These factors give my crime stories a disproportionate punch, I think. But I don’t worry, and I read every single one of these stories. I don’t think you should worry either.

¹ Murders in 31 Division are up, but a few murders make a large difference to percentage statistics, and there have been no murders in Weston. 31 Division includes Jane–Finch.

Greenland Farm supermarket gets yellow card

The Greenland Farm Asian supermarket on Weston Rd received a  yellow card from Toronto Public Health on June 1.   The supermarket had failed “to ensure food is not contaminated/adulterated” and to properly wash equipment, among other infractions.

When reinspected on June 3, the market was given a clean bill of health.

Ice cream truck robbed

According to several readers, an ice cream truck was robbed at the corner of King and Elm at around 7 pm. The mugger threatened the driver with a handgun before fleeing with the driver’s cash.

Police on bikes and in cars arrived on the scene shortly after. Nobody was hurt in the incident.

Weston Treasures: Frontlines

Frontlines: 1844 Weston Road

Tucked between a high-rise building and rows of stores and apartments on Weston Road is a single-storey building that is the current home to a powerhouse that has been in our community for the past quarter century. While the back of the building serves as a food bank (that’s a story for another day), Frontlines (naturally) occupies the storefront entrance at 1844 Weston Road. Frontlines is a child and youth outreach centre, financed primarily through individual donors, along with fundraising and grants from small foundations. It operates six days a week under the leadership of Kristy Grisdale, Denise Gillard and Felix Opoku.

Executive Director Kristy Grisdale

Along with 20 volunteers, the team serves around 200 neighbourhood children through a wide range of after-school activities. In the summer, Frontlines employs local students and young adults to assist with week-long camp experiences as well as a wide variety of daily activities. That’s not all—in a typical month, this small building produces 140 nutritious cooked meals, 130 packed lunches and dozens of healthy snacks for the homework club run in conjunction with the Macaulay Child Development Centre. All of this is done at a cost of $350 per child per year.

Denise Gillard and friends.

Program Manager Denise Gillard says that there is a tremendous need for Frontline’s services and they serve the tip of a very large iceberg. A McMaster graduate, Denise is an ordained Baptist minister who believes that improving lives in the community begins with respect. Fostering of wellness and respect is achieved through building relationships and providing meaningful programs.

Youth Program Coordinator Felix Opoku and friends.

In order to address our community’s growing needs, fundraising is a time consuming but essential activity. For example, student-cooked items can be purchased each Saturday at Weston Farmers’ Market. In April, the annual dinner held at Weston Golf and Country Club raised over $10,000 from 90 paying guests with 17 sponsors generously covering all costs. Another way of fundraising involves individual sponsorships – for example, it costs $350 to sponsor one child’s activities for a year, $315 will send a child to camp for a week, while $2800 will employ a student facilitator for the summer.

Frontlines’ next major fundraisers are:

Community Summer BBQ bash this Saturday, June 18 at Frontlines. Time: 11 a.m. To 6 p.m. Featuring BBQ favourites, baked goods, vendors and entertainers as well as TC3 – the Toronto Children’s Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company. No ticket required.

BIG breakfast on Saturday, June 25th at Frontlines. Time: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Tickets are $12.00 and attendees can enjoy a delicious meal while finding out more about Frontlines and meeting staff and volunteers. If you would like to attend, please RSVP at 416-244-7017.