The first political shots have been fired in the battle over Swanek Park. Etobicoke-York City Council will today vote on whether it should officially disapprove of moving St John the Evangelist into the park.
The Toronto District Catholic School Board would like to move the over-crowded school to Swanek because the current location is small, lacks green space, and is close to the train tracks.
At least 4 houses would have to be demolished, but Nunziata says the “TCDSB have stated that if the school were to be built on this parkland, many, if not all of the 33 houses immediately surrounding the park would have to be acquired or, if necessary, expropriated.”
The local council will consider two of Nunziata’s recommendations: whether to not support the conversion of Swanek Park, and whether to direct the city to consider adding Swanek Park to the inventory of heritage properties.
Two neighbourhood restaurants were recently given conditional passes.
Golden Star Restaurant, at 2133 Jane, failed to protect food from contamination and did not properly maintain its equipment. The proprietors should have known better: they have received three other conditional passes in the past two years, and they are, according Public Health, a high risk restaurant that must be inspected three times a year. High risk restaurants serve a high-risk population, use risky processes and food, or have been implicated as the source of a previous outbreak.
Another restaurant in the same plaza was also given a yellow card. Ecua-Peru Fried Chicken at 2111 Jane St was given a yellow card after inspectors found a very long list of infractions, including failing to use proper utensils to ensure food safety, failing to keep hazardous food cold, and not providing bathroom supplies.
The Central Bar and Grill was given only a conditional pass by health inspectors in a recent inspection. Inspectors say that the restaurant did not store and remove waste correctly.
This is not the first time the restaurant has been given a conditional pass. In August of 2009, inspectors blasted it with six infractions, including the same error as this time. It was also cited for improper kitchen sanitation, lack of employee hand-washing, and waste disposal. The Central Bar and Grill did pass three subsequent inspections, however.
This inspection comes only shortly after the Toronto Star claimed that the business is (or was) a gang hangout.
Tomorrow is the last day to catch a documentary installation about Weston.
Weston Public is being shown at the Beaver Hall Gallery as part of the Ryerson graduate school of documentary media exhibition. Sarah Sharkey Pearce created Weston Public to explore youth’s experiences in Weston and Mount Dennis.
The trailer (for the whole exhibition, not just her documentary, unfortunately) is below:
Beaver Hall Gallery is at 29 McCaul St downtown. The gallery is open from 12 – 7 and admission is free.
Dave Bennett, co-chair of the St. John the Evangelist Catholic School Advisory Council, answered my questions about moving the school to Swanek Park. Bennett stated emphatically that the board will not be expropriating the houses surrounding the park. “That is untrue,” he said, “There are 32 homes that go around Swanek. We need four. That’s quite a difference.” The four homes would be to create an opening to the park and would be sold voluntarily, he said.
Bennett also claimed, though, that the city will want to keep the total amount of green space the same as it is now. “If the city were to ask for [the same acreage of] Swanek Park to be there, it would be an additional 13 homes. That’s only if the city asks for that. Nothing is in stone. It’s all about the site”, he said. The city could also replace the green space lost at Swanek by creating parks elsewhere, he claims.
According to Bennett, the board is considering four locations in addition to Swanek:
The former Beer Store lot on Weston Rd.
The grounds of HJ Alexander School
The Visioneering land on Oak St.
The TCDSB prefers Swanek Park because it “is .8 km from the current site [and] almost in the middle of the catchment area for the school.” Further, he said, “the park size is more than what’s required for a school and our community would still have their park.” The other locations are all small and either close to the train tracks or the 401.
When asked what the board would do if they were unable to buy four contiguous homes around Swanek Park, Bennett replied, “That’s a good question.” Expropriation “is a process that is a last resort. They want to be good neighbours.”
Frances Nunziata, the councillor for Weston, has released a letter expressing her opposition to moving St John the Evangelist elementary school to Swanek Park.
Nunziata says she supports building a new school, but not at Swanek. The letter says that she has twice in blunt language told the school board and representatives that she opposes that location, saying their “proposed location of Wallace C. Swanek Park was unacceptable”.
In particular, Nunziata mentions her opposition to acquiring and demolishing “many, if not all of the houses surrounding the park.” She also opposes plans to undo the work of the community to upgrade and improve the park.
The school is in for a struggle if they press forward with this location. Nunziata says that she “will fight for the best interests of the community and will formally oppose any application to build a school on the park and/or reliquish City control”. Nunziata sits on the City Parks and Environment Committee, so it seems likely that she will get her way.
Last night, more than 700 burgers and hotdogs were served up to residents of Weston by volunteers for Neighbour’s Night Out. According to Dave McBride, an organizer, Weston usually has the largest turn-out of any Neighbour’s Night Out in the city, and this year it showed. Elm Park was packed with kids having a blast, and the line-ups for the food were enormous. That should have been no surprise: hamburgers were only $2 with a drink! They were good, too: President’s Choice low-fat Angus beef.
Your humble correspondent never ceases to be amazed by how cheap desserts are in Weston. Frontlines community drop-in centre was selling cookies and treats at bargain prices. He and his daughter binged on several delicious chocolate chip cookies.
While your reporter faced threats to his waistline, the dangers were nothing compared to those of the chefs fending off hundreds of hungry visitors while labouring over a smoking grill. The community owes thanks to them and the other volunteers, organizers, and supporters.