UrbanArts moving out, up

UrbanArts, the youth arts organization that has helped kids in Weston for years, is moving to a bigger, better place in Mount Dennis.

The new location is at 5 Bartonville Ave E, in the old City of Toronto sign building. It will be north of Eglinton on Weston Rd, but south of the intersection of Jane and Weston. 

Marlene McKintosh, Executive Director said, “we’ve outgrown the space in terms of the staff and the young people we serve. We’re lacking in a lot of things, and more importantly, it’s what young people said they needed.”

The new facility will have a ProTech media centre—computer facilities to get youth involved in media production, graphic design, website design, film and video. “It’s one of four media centres that Microsoft, the city, Humber College, and Renewed Computer Technology are partnering in to support people in priority neighbourhoods,”  said McKintosh.

McKintosh says that UrbanArts will still be there for Weston kids: “We may not physically be in this area, but we’ll be maintaining a presence. The need is still there. We’re not in any way leaving the community.” All the current programs will also continue in the new space. UrbanArts hoping to move into their new space by the end of the year.

More models in Weston

Yes, Weston could use a decent coffee shop. And yes, Weston could use a few more good jobs.

But you simply can’t say that Weston doesn’t have enough supermodels. We have plenty of supermodels. We have more supermodels per coffee shop than just about anywhere else in the world. Our supermodel-to-good-job ratio is just nuts. Through the roof.

This week, actress and former model Amy Smart is shooting a movie in Weston, on Church St. Last week, actress and former model Maggie Q kicked butt on William.

Smart is shooting a ‘telefilm’ (I believe we once called these made-for-TV movies) called “The 12 Dates of Christmas”. It is, if I understand the nuances of the plot correctly, Groundhog Day meets Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Amy Smart

The Rich Get Richer…

Have you ever wondered how Canada has managed to lose most of its manufacturing jobs that paid a good wage? Weston could well be the poster child for this scenario. A feature documentary, ‘Poor No More‘ hosted by Mary Walsh, attempts to answer that question. It explores the reasons why there is such a huge disparity between rich and poor in Canada and why the disparity is growing.

Following the movie, attendees are invited to participate in a discussion of the issues with the executive producer, producer and director as well as Paul Ferreira and Mike Sullivan, respective York South Weston provincial and federal NDP candidates in the upcoming elections.

Place: York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue W.

Time: Saturday March 19, 2:00 – 4:00pm

Cost: Free.

Nunziata proposes zero charges on developments in Weston

Frances Nunziata, with her colleague Michael Thompson, is asking the city to waive development charges in Weston and the other 12 priority neighbourhoods.

Development charges are fees charged on new residential and commercial spaces. The charge is $5–$15,000 for a residence, and about $35,000 for a 2000 square-foot commercial space. (Industrial spaces are exempt). Nunziata’s proposal to council says,

With many of these neighborhoods having their main streets lined with vacant storefronts, empty apartments and/or dilapidated buildings, there is little appeal for people to shop at the few stores on th e commercial strips and even less appeal for new businesses to locate there.  Less business in the community results in fewer jobs in the community, reinforcing the disparity that already exists in the City’s Priority Neighborhoods between population and the availability of local employment….

By waiving development charges in the City’s Priority Neighborhoods for a fixed period of time, the City would aid in the revitalization of the Priority Neighborhoods, with the anticipated result of increased interest in development opportunities in those neighborhoods.

The Globe and Mail has a nice article discussing this. Not everyone agrees with Nunziata;

“It’s not going to work instantly,” predicts Stephen Dupuis, who heads the Building Industry and Land Development Association. “I doubt there’s a whole lot of land holdings sitting [in those areas] waiting for an incentive.”

“The problem in those neighbourhoods is lack of demand, not lack of supply,” adds planner Joe Berridge, noting that development-charge holidays or other measures, such as tax increment financing, won’t create local economic activity.

Your humble correspondent also wonders whether Westonians would even want this plan to succeed. It seems to him that Weston has plenty of high-rise housing and likely already has low retail rents.

Even Nunziata agrees in part; in what is surely an off-the-cuff comment in the Globe, she says, “Ninety per cent of the stores on Weston Road are vacant”.


Toronto Life has scathing article on Nunziata

Frances Nunziata, City Councillor for York South—Weston, created a scene at City Hall that Toronto Life calls “bizarre” and “uproariously crazy”.

Nunziata ruled that Council could not discuss the auditor’s report that has led to the firing of the board of Toronto Community Housing. She then ruled that nobody could applaud.

This council meeting was probably the most uproariously crazy we’ve seen in a while…. Nunziata threatened to have the crowds ejected from council. As a compromise, Paula Fletcher suggested that people wave their hands in the air as a silent alternative—what The Globe and Mail’s Kelly Grant dubbed “jazz hands”—and, amazingly, it stuck. With only a few exceptions, for the rest of the night the benches used jazz hands instead of applause, and two-handed thumbs downs instead of booing.

As the night went on, Nunziata’s ruling that council couldn’t discuss the TCHC audit led councillors into increasingly creative linguistic acrobatics to try and refer to “the report which we cannot discuss,” “that thing he [the auditor general] wrote” (that one courtesy of Josh Matlow) and  “the report which shall not be named.” Xtra’s Andrea Houston called it “the Voldemort report,”



NDP gears up for battle

The provincial and federal NDP are sharing offices in preparation for the upcoming elections—though the federal election not yet been announced.

Paul Ferreira will be running for the Ontario NDP again. Ferreira held the seat for a few months in 2007, but lost it in a close contest to Laura Albanese.

Mike Sullivan will be running again for the Feds. Sullivan lost to Alan Tonks in the last election, and has been working as a co-chair of the Clean Train Coalition since.

Neither the Provincial nor Federal Conservatives have announced their candidates, (though the PCs did ask me if I would be interested when I enquired!). Albanese and Tonks will presumably run again for the Liberals.

The NDP is hosting an grand opening on Saturday at their new election headquarters at 1193 Weston Rd.

TV show filming in Weston

Filming wrapped today for the TV show Nikita. The show was shooting at 14 William St, and the crew was enormous. Trucks spread up and down Rosemount, William and Elm.

Nikita is based on the older Canadian TV show of the same name, which is based on the American movie Point of No Return, which is based on the French movie from 1990, Nikita, which was actually quite good. If it’s at all true to the original, it’s about a troubled young woman who is recruited to the secret service to do high kicks in short dresses. In a word: awesome.

Becky Winder, the owner of the house, was sympathetic about the impact the show was having on her neighbours. She said, “It does benefit Weston but is a large pain.” Weston is a popular location, too, she said; “filming in Weston has been going on since I first bought my present home, 26 years ago.”