Neighbour’s night out a success

Cows hate Westonians.

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.

Swanek Park threatened by a new Catholic School

The Toronto Catholic District School Board would like to relocate St John the Evangelist from its location on George Street to Swanek Park. The proposed move has many local residents upset because, among other impositions, the TCDSB would like to expropriate all houses [see note 1] surrounding the park.

The administration at St John has been planning to move the school since at least 2005. A study then found that there were 472 students in a school designed for only 282. As a result, there are many portables crowding a small site. There is little green space, and the school is located next to busy train tracks. A moving letter submitted to the school board by a child at the time expressed her regrets at having to practice sports on foam mats because “portables have overtaken our playground and the grass has been replaced by asphalt”.

Swanek Park is certainly bigger and greener than the current location, and it could easily accomodate a much larger school. However, according to Ross Parry, a member of the Swanek Park Improvement Committee, the local community is not embracing the move.

Swanek ParkThe Catholic board wants to expropriate and demolish many or all of the homes that surround the park (the board prefers to say they will “acquire” homes, forcefully if necessary). Residents are upset, of course—according to Parry, “Most are shocked. Some are angry.”

Parry noted that the board seemed to reject Pelmo Park, which has much more space, no houses, and an existing elementary school, so bus infrastructure and construction could be minimized.

The Pelmo Swanek Community Association will be having its first neighbours’ night out on June 24 at 7 pm at the Queenslea entrance to Swanek Park. City staff will be there to share their ideas for park improvements.

[Note 1: A reader has informed me that the TCDSB may not wish to expropriate all homes around the park. I have attempted to contact the TCDSB for clarification. I have not heard back. I will post more when I find out.]

Note 2: This post has been updated to correct an error I made. Parry did not say that Pelmo Park had never been considered. I regret the error.

Tonks cocky about Liberals’ chances

In an interview with the Hill Times, York-South Weston MP Alan Tonks was rather dismissive of the NDP’s chances in the next federal election. That’s quite odd, especially since his own riding has been vulnerable to the NDP in the past.

In an article about the Liberal leadership, Tonks said he isn’t concerned about the NDP gaining ground.

“My feeling is that the NDP have held around 16 per cent, always have, when it comes to an election,” says Toronto Liberal MP Alan Tonks (York South-Weston, Ont.). “There’s a window at this time, but when it comes to an actual election call and the issues are out, I don’t think that [traditional] percentage is going to change.”

Tonks may not have the right to be so cocky; while Weston has been consistently Liberal for decades, in the last election his own share of the vote slipped dramatically from 57% to 47%. In fact, his popularity has been declining since 2004, when he received 60% of the vote.

All parties benefitted at Tonks’ expense, but none more than the party he criticizes most. In the last election, the NDP took 28% of the vote here—much more than the 16% he says they “always have”.

A busy weekend in Weston

Despite the light rain, it couldn’t have been a better weekend in Weston..

The market was jumping, and not just in the two bouncy castles. At least four different entertainers worked the crowd with everything from accordions to Elvis. Business looked brisk for the vendors too, as one would expect in strawberry and asparagus season.

The Queens Drive 23rd annual yard sale packed both sides of the street with visitors. There were odds and ends and antiques for sale, and several young entrepreneurs were raising money for charity—at one stand, lemonade was 25¢ and cookies were 10¢, and the proceeds went to juvenile diabetes.

Elizabeth Laregina, Cher Dawson, and Gemma were also raising money for a cause. They were selling flowers in support of Weston Memorial Public School. Laregina said that they had raised over $500 from the sale of donated flowers.

Cher Dawson dug many of the plants for sale from her own garden. She has been selling them for “going on 10 years”, and said “I just love gardening, and I love nature… I like to help out the school”.

Gemma told my daughter, “It’s a great school. You’ll love it.”

Weston-area supermarket given a conditional pass in health inpection

In news from the ick file, the large Weston-area Blue Sky Supermarket was given a scathing review by Toronto Public Health. The market did, however, receive a conditional pass.

The Blue Sky Supermarket is across from the Sheridan Mall and beside the No Frills at the corner of Wilson and Jane. On May 25, inspectors found that it

  • Failed to protect products from contamination by storing food off the ground
  • Did not remove garbage when necessary or clean the floor of the food preparation area
  • Did not provide soap or towels in the food preparation area or in the washrooms

Excuse the poor quality picture.

Weston butcher shop given conditional pass in health inspection

Weston-area butcher shop Lauri Meat Market was given only a conditional pass after its health inspection on June 1.

Lauri Meat Market is at 1696 Jane St, in the plaza north of Lawrence.

Inspectors found many significant infractions:

  • A failure to provide hand washing supplies
  • A failure to provide food sanitation supplies
  • No washroom supplies
  • Improper removal of waste

There were also “minor” infractions: not washing surfaces and not providing the proper equipment for washing or sanitizing surfaces and equipment.

Lauri Meat Market has passed two previous inspections. Because it was given a conditional pass, it will have been reinspected by now. The results of that inspection have not yet been posted.

Lauri meat market
Lauri Meat Market

The heat is on Metrolinx

Metrolinx has been spanked in public by the Toronto City Council. Again.

Metrolinx is the public agency that governs regional transit; notably, it is responsible for the increased GO Train and Airport Express traffic that will run through Weston. Metrolinx is often criticized by politicians and transit advocates for being opaque, adversarial, and disrespectful of public input.

In a motion passed yesterday, City Council said Metrolinx is “highly streamlined, one-way, and not in any way [open to] meaningful or respectful of community input”, Council moved that the agency should be “open, transparent, and accountable to the public by requiring it to conduct its meetings in public… provide advance public notice of meetings; allow public deputations; and publish all reports, agendas, and minutes.

This isn’t the first time Metrolinx has been given a whupping, but City Council may be the most powerful and unified group yet to have taken off its belt.