Alan Tonks is a Top Dissenter

The Globe and Mail has a story today on MPs and their parliamentary activities. While our Federal MP Alan Tonks is not among the absentee or silent members, he and Mississauga MP Paul Szabo hold the record for voting with the Tories against the Liberal Party mainstream.

As noted previously, he opposed a bill to add ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ to the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code’s hate crimes section. He also voted with the Tories to oppose Gerard Kennedy’s bill amending the refugee act to include conscientious objectors to seek refuge in Canada.

You can get the rest of Mr. Tonks’ voting record here.

It seems that when you vote Liberal, to quote the Rolling Stones, you don’t always get what you want.

Humber River Flood Update

A rainfall warning from Environment Canada has prompted fears that the Humber will flood again today, especially around the Lions Park footbridge where an ice jam is damming the river. Check back to this article for updates and images throughout the day.

8am: the river is rising steadily but below levels reached last week when the Weston access to the bridge was submerged. The ice jam is still in place.

10:30am: a steady rise in the water but no sign of ice movement.

1:00pm: water still rising; ice jam holding.

3:30pm: starting to break up

5:30 Not much to report. Ice is holding in spite of a few false starts.

March 6

The ice moved about 100m past the bridge overnight without incident and water levels are subsiding. It’s amazing (and annoying) how rarely the ice moves during daylight hours. The ice jam now occupies the river at the curve in Raymore Park and continues to flood the land there.

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.