The Etobicoke-York Community Council voted this week to inspect many (but not all) of the payday loan shops in Weston.
Payday loan shops are very common in Weston, but their social value is dubious. Stores such as Money Mart and Cash Money offer small loans at high interest rates for short durations, among other services. Perhaps because of the low average income in Weston, payday loan storefronts are very common.
Council has made several recommendations to put pressure on the loan shops, though direct curbs seem out of reach. The city will ask the province to investigate what can be done to reduce “problems” such stores cause. Council will also investigate whether they can be licenced by the city.
City staff will be asked to bear down on the operations. They are being directed to address “the issues arising from this type of business”.
Finally, licencing staff will also investigate payday loan shops along Weston Road and Jane Street. It is not clear what, if anything, staff will be able to do against the loan shops—or, in fact, if anything should be done until the “problems” and “issues” are more clearly defined.
Weston Public opened its doors to its youngest class yesterday. The school hosted an information night for its incoming class of junior kindergarten students—and their parents.
Next year’s kindergarten class is an important one: it is the first year that Ontario will have full-day kindergarten. Both local elementary schools, Weston Public and HJ Alexander, will be part of the pilot project.
The information night started with an open house, and students and parents were allowed to tour the building. At 7:30, the principal and some faculty spoke to the assembly.
Weston Public is, according to Principal Baglione, “the best little school in the city”. Ms Di Vincenzo emphasized the educational philosophy of the school, and how the kindergarten class will be play-based and fun. “Kindergarten children learn through play”.
While the mood was upbeat, there were two portions of the assembly that were disappointing to parents. Baglione said that the before- and after-care, which was supposed to be affordable, would cost between $25 and $35 a day. He said that interest in the program had diminished considerably once the price had been announced. Baglione also said that classes would have a cap of 26 students—6 more than the cap in grades 1 through 5. The kindergarten classrooms, though, will have two faculty: one teacher and one early-childhood educator. “Your little ones will be well taken care of”, he said.
Alan Tonks, the federal MP for York South-Weston, sits on the Standing Committee for Natural Resources, a federal committee that oversees drilling for oil and gas. For the past two weeks, the SCNR has been interviewing experts and industry representatives and questioning their preparedness for a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon.
On May 13, the committee’s most notable guests were Anne Drinkwater, the CEO of BP Canada, and Gaéton Caron, the CEO of the National Energy Board, the federal agency that regulates drilling. Both Drinkwater and Caron were given some rough handling, particularly by the NDP’s Nathan Cullen.
Cullen unsparing questions of Caron and accused the NEB of being a booster for big business, saying it is a “promoter of the oil and gas industry” and has been replacing regulations with guidelines.
Cullen asked Drinkwater and Caron about the oil industry’s plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. The most contentious issue was the oil industry’s desire to reduce regulations, in particular the requirement for relief wells (used to end spills) to be drilled in the same year as leaks Because the summer is short and drilling can only be done where there is no ice, wells could leak catastrophically from one summer until the next if the industry is allowed this reduction in oversight.
Cullen hammered Drinkwater with tough rhetorical questions, saying, “two weeks before your rig caught fire… your company was in front of Canadian regulators asking for the relief well requirement to be lifted… Do you think that was a bad thing to ask for? And do you still support British Petroleum and other oil companies’ request to remove that safety regulation?”
The Bloc’s Paule Brunelle also asked tough questions of the Association of Energy Producers and BP but spread her fire over many targets. The Conservative and Liberal members were not particularly offensive to the delicate sensibilities of their guests. Tonks, unfortunately, said very little, leaving most of the work to Larry Bagnell, the Liberal MP from Yukon.
InsideToronto.com is reporting that speed bumps will be installed along MacDonald Avenue in response to many years of reckless driving along the street.
The vote of the community council was contentious; the councillors overruled city bureaucrats’ recommendations. 40% of residents voted in a survey on the subject. Staff require 50% of residents to respond to give their blessing.
InsideToronto.com is reporting that Gerard Kennedy, a powerful Toronto MP and Weston resident, will be creating a group to lobby for electrification of GO Transit trains.
The group appears to be comprised of politicians, not citizens. So far, 12 MPs are members, but the group will be open to “representatives of all levels of government, including the school board”. While InsideToronto does not name the MPs, they are likely the same ones that opposed Metrolinx in the past. If so, Alan Tonks will be included.
In the past, Kennedy has been reluctant to oppose the Blue 22 train. It was only in October of last year that he voiced his opposition to the airport rail expansion; even then, he was irresolute. To now have him organizing opposition (and not merely joining it) will likely bring joy to advocates. It will also put Alan Tonks under pressure. Tonks has not fully opposed Metrolinx’s plans and has even supported the airport link in the past. Gerard Kennedy could end up representing Weston better than its elected MP does.
Weston likely has more payday loan shops than any other part of Toronto. That may change, if only a little, as loan businesses come under increased pressure from local government.
For a large fee, payday loan shops will convert a post-dated cheque into cash. They are often used for short-term ‘cash crunches’, when a person is employed but does not have enough money to meet immediate expenses. The loans, however, are very expensive: Cash Money, a very popular franchise with 350 locations in Canada and 5 locations within 5 km of Weston, charges $21 for a 14 day loan of $100, the maximum allowed by law.
Payday loan and cheque-cashing business have been expanding rapidly but have recently been subject to much more regulation. Last year, the province restricted the amount of interest lenders could charge and limited their ability to ‘rollover’ loans—paying off one loan with another to the same client. These practices made it difficult for clients to get control of their debts.
The Etobicoke York Community Council (which covers Weston), heard a report today about payday loan stores. The report was commissioned because the council identified a “proliferation” of payday loan stores in the neighbourhood and because of concerns that these stores were operating without the correct permits. The council was concerned that some payday loan stores were accepting collateral (like old gold).
The report was referred for further review.