John Street changes

Speaking of sidewalks, changes are likely coming to John Street. The Etobicoke York Community Council will consider making the intersection of John and Weston roads narrower.

The city wants to widen the sidewalks, remove a lane on John Street, shorten the turn radius, and add pro-pedestrian signals.

Map of John and Weston

I’m a pretty pro-pedestrian, pro-bike kind of guy, but this seems like a mistake to me. John Street is a disaster. Cars park on both sides of the street, making turning difficult already. Pedestrians cross from the parking lot and alley halfway up, and the auto repair shop is less than fully compliant and quite busy. It’s virtually impossible to drive on John without stopping as it is. Narrowing it—especially without vigilant enforcement of parking and stopping bylaws—is going to make that much worse.

If I had my druthers, I’d ruther the city tackle the left turn from South Station Street onto John. It’s wide, fast, and really needs a stop sign to allow pedestrians safe passage to the pedestrian bridge. I’ve seen many cars turning from South Station Street going too fast onto John, going from a wide, amenable street onto a narrow, crowded one.

I think the city is tackling the wrong end of the problem.

WVRA hosts AGM in Weston Hub

On Tuesday May 14, the Weston Village Residents’ Association held its annual general meeting inside the new Weston Hub. The Hub interior still needs some final touches but is essentially complete. Landscaping is a work in progress but it’s coming along nicely and will be ready for next year. The official opening is on May 25th and 26th.

WVRA Chair Dave Bennett opened by talking about some of the ‘heat’ encountered when the Hub was proposed. This was later echoed by Councillor Nunziata.

For some warm reading go here, here, here and here.

You’re welcome Dave and Frances.

This area will house the Farmers Market next year. (click to enlarge).
Landscaping work has been done at the Hub entrance. Note the bridge connecting the multi-storey parking lot to the rental building.

The new space easily accommodated the 50+ people in attendance. LoriAnn Givran from Artscape, talked about the new facilities, Marlene Mackintosh from UrbanArts and Michael Kelly from Shakespeare in Action introduced themselves and the programs that they offer.

The highlight of the evening was to be a presentation from former Toronto Chief Planner Paul Bedford but because of illness, Mr. Bedford was absent but ably represented by colleague and Urban Lands Institute Executive Director Richard Joy. The presentation dealt with the ULI Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Report tabled last August.

From the TAP report (Click to enlarge).

Richard dealt with the five big ideas from the report, namely,

  • Promote and plan Weston as a riverfront community
  • Market Weston as an affordable commercial and residential location for airport workers
  • Bring a brewery to Weston
  • Build partnerships with Universities and Colleges
  • Establish a co-op grocery store.

Later, Councillor Frances Nunziata spoke and talked about local issues including the upcoming paving of Weston Road and widening of sidewalks in the stretch between Lawrence and Little Avenue.

Sidewalks along this stretch of Weston Road are being widened.
Sidewalks along this stretch of Weston Road are not being widened. Go figure.

During the break, some mouth-watering goodies were available (well done Suri) and attendees enjoyed a tour of the new facilities.

A conference room.
One of the two large event rooms.
The lobby of the Weston Hub; WVRA Chair Dave Bennett (3rd from R) talks to residents.
The lobby – entranceway.
Michael Kelly of Shakespeare In Action speaks to the audience in the main presentation space.

Some aspiring politicians were in attendance including Yafet Tewelde and Chiara Padovani.

Chiara Padovani and brand new WVRA member Ryan Demchuk chat during the break.

It was a busy evening with lots of information – to hear a recording of the full meeting click the two links below:

Audio Part 1

Audio Part 2

Shakespeare In Action is now Weston based.

Shakespeare in Action is a community group dedicated to making the works of William Shakespeare accessible to young people.  Yesterday, SIA announced that after 30 years as an itinerant company, they now have a home in Weston at the new Artscape Weston Common. They have also acquired office space at the Central United Church just a short walk away.

Read more in the Star here.

Artscape still seeking tenants

If you’re an artist with a proven track record of artistic creativity and your household income is below $46, 176, you may be eligible to apply for one of 26 brand new live / work spaces in  Artscape’s Weston Common project that’s scheduled to open at the end of this year. Applications are being accepted until April 11. Artists must not own a home already

A total of 14 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units are available; all have ‘high ceilings, large windows and industrial style finishes’. Rents are affordable; $877 for a one-bedroom and $1022 for a two. Units face south or east.

Facilities in the adjacent Cultural Hub.

For lots more information and application forms click here.

The latest take on the Weston Hub

The Farmers Market with lots of room on its old site back in July 2004. (File).

Churchill once said that, “History is written by the victors”. An article in  UrbanToronto.ca, (basically a public relations organ for the local real estate and development industries) tells a sanitized version of the background story of the soon to be opened Weston Hub.

The article’s author, Dean Macaskill, has been involved in Toronto real estate since 1980 and was with the company given the GO Station parking lot listing back in 2012. The land was put on the market by the Toronto Parking Authority and according to Macaskill, the 5 offers received on the 1.42 acre site were, ‘at rather depressed pricing levels’.

What’s not mentioned in the article are thoughts at the time that the land belonged to the old town of Weston and that it should not be sold. Also, unlike the wealthy Wychwood Barns neighbourhood which received close to $20 million from the City for their Artscape project, poor old Weston received essentially nothing.

The message seems to be that no one wanted to invest in Weston until this development came along and since that time, developers have been falling all over themselves to buy into our community. He neglects to mention that his listing stated, “Area Is Undergoing Significant Change With Other High Rise Condominiums Planned In The Immediate Area.” Also missing in action is any mention of the 370 rental apartments and 40,000 square feet of storage units that came as part of the deal.  The 8000 square foot space devoted to the cultural hub seems rather ungenerous by comparison. Another unmentioned issue of contention is the tight space given to the Farmers Market .

Now that the Hub is nearing completion, we’ll all have to make the best of it and hope it’s a success – but it could have been so much better no matter what shine is put on it.

Just to cheer you up, here’s a Metro Morning  interview with Artscape’s Tim Jones talking to CBC’s Matt Galloway recently on the same topic.

Hub News: Weston Common partners announced

UrbanArts and Shakespeare in Action were announced this week as being program partners for the Weston Common  community cultural hub coming on John Street.  UrbanArts develops the creative assets of artists and residents and has worked locally for years from its two locations on the other side of John Street and in Mount Dennis.

Shakespeare in Action is a non-profit professional theatre company dedicated to spreading knowledge of the characters, language, and the stories of Shakespeare’s works through a variety of one-off school workshops or longer term internships.

Both groups will bring a positive and youth oriented vibe to the Hub while promising benefits for the whole community.

The two organizations hope to be installed in their new location this fall.

Artists interested in the Live / Work studios may add their name to a waitlist here.