The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly captured the attention of the world and its effects are just beginning to unfold. Here in Weston / Mount Dennis, there are no known local cases – Toronto Storeys has published a map that shows the location of every coronavirus case diagnosed in the city. None appear to be close to our neighbourhood and few if any appear to be locally transmitted.
The protocol for those diagnosed seems to be to self-isolate (assuming symptoms are mild enough) to keep the virus from spreading. This requires a bit of planning and perhaps stockpiling supplies to hold out for that long. In our household we are prepared for a two-week isolation should it be necessary plus some consolation junk food.
Readers are invited to share their preparations and thoughts on the current crisis.
There are a couple of sites for a more global picture of the pandemic; the Johns Hopkins tracker is here (it seems to be having trouble keeping up with demand) and the worldometers one is here.
In Ontario, over 4000 people have been tested and 54 of them were found to be positive for the virus.
Thanks to a private donor, the gofundme fundraiser to launch a judicial review of the floodplain lands purchased by St Helen’s Meatpackers and approved by the TRCA has received a boost thanks to a donation of legal services. St Helens intends to build on the land in the face of common sense and community opposition.
According to team fundraiser, Devin Tepleski, the fundraising target is less than $2500 and the deadline is March 23.
From the fundraiser webpage:
“Since the TRCA decision, two men nearly drowned footsteps away from the creek, and homes in the area flooded twice in one year. How can the TRCA claim to have a mandate to protect communities from flooding and at the same time allow easement on to city land so it can be sold to a meat packing plant? This is same land they TRCA recommended be used to mitigate flooding in one of their own Environmental Assessments (2014).”
Megan DeLaire at Toronto.com has written a report on the recent meeting of the Mount Dennis Eco-Neighbourhood group. Mount Dennis through their community association has spearheaded a drive to make Weston’s southern neighbour into a net-zero community.
What is a net-zero community? The term isn’t clearly defined but in general, it’s a place where total carbon emissions are reduced to zero through conservation, by changing energy sources and by generating a surplus of non-carbon based energy that is used to offset carbon emissions. It’s a laudable goal and a determined group at MDCA has been pushing it for several years with considerable success. The gas-powered generating station that was to supply the Eglinton Crosstown with emergency power was nixed in favour of a large battery. This was thanks to concerns expressed by the MDCA and others that not only would the generator pollute the neighbourhood, it would also be used during times of peak demand, adding to local pollution levels..
It’s refreshing that all three local politicians seem to be behind this endeavour, MP Ahmed Hussein sent greetings by video message, MPP Faisal Hassan is strongly supportive and local councillor Frances Nunziata spoke to the audience. Nunziata seems open to supporting net zero in new buildings which is a good thing. This will be more expensive up front but the cost savings and lower pollution levels will last for the lifetime of a building. Check out this building in London Ontario.
Developers have returned to Weston and Mount Dennis for two reasons:
There is an opportunity to make money.
See reason #1
The opportunity has arrived thanks mainly to government infrastructure spending, mainly in the form of improved transit. Developers are not benevolent entities so that’s why we have planning departments and civic government to protect us from their excesses.
Why have developers come here? The city is expanding and transit links have improved. The UP Express makes a trip to the airport or downtown quick and easy. The much awaited Eglinton Crosstown line will be opening in 2021 2022 and with good transit comes increased property prices and investment opportunities. The city will gain from the increased property tax assessments that new buildings and increased density will provide.
We have all witnessed first hand the results of bad development. In fact Weston could be called the poster child for corrupt and shoddy development imposed on the community in the 70s and 80s. In addition, community housing has been allowed to deteriorate through bad management and constrained budgets. When Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris dumped responsibility for social housing onto the city in 1998 he promised that the transfer would be revenue neutral. Last year Ottawa announced funding to help ease the $1.6 billion repair backlog.
Anne Hidalgo has been the Mayor of Paris since 2014. The city isn’t perfect and they are looking at an idea that is gaining traction. The idea is that nobody in Paris should be more than a fifteen-minute walk or bike ride to everything they need in order to live well.
Clearly, if people could live close to everything they needed, life would be a lot better. People would be healthier thanks to exercise and reduced fumes from vehicles. Is this a possibility for Weston and Mount Dennis? We certainly have the parks, outdoor exercise opportunities and fresh air (given the constraints of local highway pollution). Access to a doctor / health care is probably reasonable (readers may wish to comment). The things our community seems to lack are cultural opportunities, good produce stores, a decent bakery (mmm baguettes) and a bigger variety of workplaces.
It doesn’t help that in the past 20 years the bike network in York South Weston seems to have grown at the same rate as a sloth’s fingernail. Toronto routinely fails to spend its annual budgeted allocation on bike trails and lanes. In 2016, the City’s 10-year cycling plan was supposed to create 560 km of bike lanes and cycle paths. Two years later, 33 km had been built. The City claims it’s because of the environmental and other assessments that need to be done beforehand. I think it’s a lack of will. On this side of the pond, Charlottesville has made their city walkable. So it is possible if the will is there.
We need to impress on politicians that traffic-clogged streets and car-dependent neighbourhoods are harmful to our health. Developers and city planners should be working towards the day when everything is within walking or cycling distance. This is why we as a community should be vigilant and not allow poor design, rampant greed or both to be the deciding factors in what gets built here. We need to be vigilant for the people who will make Weston and Mount Dennis home over the next 50 years.
Do you dream of taking the stage?
Have you always wanted to create, perform or design for a theatre play?
Are you over the age of 55?
Now’s your chance!
Shakespeare in Action with the support of the New Horizons For Seniors Program is proud to produce King Lear in Weston, a community-engaged theatre project that is created by and for seniors living in northwest Toronto.
SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDS SUMMER CAMP
has a NEW HOME for 2020!Now in conjunction with SHAKESPEARE IN THE SHELL, The Groundlings (ages 7-11) and King’s Company (ages 12 – 15) will design, rehearse, and perform a play on the by the Artscape Weston Common, Shakespeare in Action’s new home!
Metrolinx has released a business case study into four options for completing the link from Mount Dennis to Pearson and has outlined them in this report. The gist seems to be that there’s a weak case in terms of return on investment but that some options are better than others. Incidentally all options seem to be better than the business case for the Scarborough Subway!
Steve Munro is a Toronto blogger who knows more about transit than just about anyone in the city. He has examined the Metrolinx report and has commented on each of the options. Read that here.
Whatever happens, it will probably be another 10 years (and a couple of changes of government) before this project gets under way.