I’m not opposed to development in Weston. Nor am I in favour. I think it’s a simple calculation: we should extract as much benefit from development as we can, and if we don’t get what we want, we shouldn’t be afraid to walk away.
The Greenland Farms development is a case in point. At their community consultation, the developer’s representatives made it clear that they would meet, but not exceed, community benefit agreements and environmental standards. They also made it very clear that this development was a purely economic decision for them. All for the good.
Let’s make it a purely economic decision for us. They want some things: changed rules and community support. Let’s make a deal.
They would have us change the planning guidelines. They also want to use the roads, the schools, the pools and the playgrounds. I can’t see any reason whatsoever why we should let them without getting something in exchange.
Rockport provides an excellent inspiration. They consulted and made community benefits a large part of their building. They gave back. I’m sure they made a good buck, and all the power to them. But they realized that good community relations are good business—and the right thing to do.
What shall we ask for?
Off the top of my head:
- An improved farmers’ market space
- A community daycare
- A YMCA
- Better bike infrastructure, including better bike racks, lanes, and storage spaces at transit stops
- A scholarship fund for Weston CI students
- A clothing/tool/computer/food bank at Weston and Lawrence
- Improvements to the library
- A recreation space and opportunities for teens and youth
Right now, I get no sense that the developers have any vision for our community—and no, ‘regentrification’ is not a vision. It’s not even a word. Their vision is to make money for themselves.
If they don’t have one, we should sell a vision to them.
What are your thoughts?