Rentsafe results in Weston: pretty good, with notable exceptions

Last month, The Star reported that “Ward 5 (York South-Weston) was the ward with the highest number of complaints” to 311 for apartments.

Of course, that number means nothing at all—wards with more buildings will have more complaints. But it did get me thinking.

The city inspects every large apartment building for the quality of common areas, amenities, elevators, garbage handling, lighting, heating, parking, security, structural features, and cleanliness. They do warn the building owners in advance, but they publish the ‘RentSafeTO‘ information online as part of their open data initiative

How does Ward 5 fare? In a word, quite well. Our apartments are on par with the rest of the city. We got a 71.7% (50.2 out of 70), compared to 72% (50.4 out of 70) citywide.

So The Star had nothing to complain about. Weston rentals are just fine.

City-wide, Toronto Community Housing buildings also do quite well, which I found surprising, considering the chatter and the recent news about 5 Bellevue (more on that in a minute).

TCHC buildings do perform a little worse than average, but the difference is  small. They received 69.6%—again, compared to 72% for all buildings.

One standout, though, is 5 Bellevue, in Weston.  Bellevue received a score of 40 out of 70, or 57.1%.¹

From Google Maps

This is a quite bad score: according to my calculations,  5 Bellevue is in the bottom 2.5% of all buildings in Toronto. This is not a recent result that came about because of the terrible hot water problems, either. The inspection was in March. Something has been wrong at 5 Bellevue for a while.

The worst sub-scores were for the condition of interior walls and garbage chute rooms (2 out 5). No aspect of the building did very well, though, and the typical result was only 3 out of 5.

I’m not an urban planner or an architect, but this situation makes me worry. To start with, nobody in Canada should be living without hot water. It’s simply unacceptable.

But I also worry about a death spiral. People living in bad conditions may, quite naturally, feel they don’t want to invest time, money, or work into making the community builder. That effort could be better spent moving on. As a result, the conditions worsen, the community deteriorates, and people invest even less.

There’s no reason why Westonians should live in some of the worst housing in the city. There’s certainly no reason why the city should be letting them down.

I’m sure the fix is complicated, long-term, and expensive. All the more reason to start fixing it now.

 


¹ My scores are a little different from the city’s, because I cleaned up the data and excluded results (such as balcony railings) where many buildings had no score, presumably because they lacked the feature.

Please feel free to check my work.
 

5 Bellevue without hot water

The residents of 5 Bellevue have been without hot water for two weeks, according to CityNews. The building is owned by Toronto Community Housing and has had a history of water problems. In September, they had no water at all for a few days.

The boiler was scheduled to be fixed early this week.

Yafet Tewelde, who is campaigning to be our NDP MP, took to Twitter to complain—though he did so inaccurately, saying that it had been six months.

Frances Nunziata did not return my email.

Council to ask AGCO to yank licences after shootings

City Council will ask the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to pull the liquor licences of establishments that have “been the scene of gun violence or where patrons have been in the possession of handguns or where the police have found handguns on the premises”.

Frances Nunziata said that his measure is necessary because

They’re open all night, it turns into a booze can or it turns into an after hours club, and they party on the streets and the next thing you know there’s guns and there’s gun violence….

They suspend their license for two or three weeks, and then they reopen….

People are afraid to walk down the street when they have that amount of violence.

Start video at 1:24:00 if it doesn’t do so automatically.

I’m pretty sure none of this is true. I come home pretty late on Friday nights, and I often ride my bike from strangling class. Of course, I’m not everywhere all the time, but I’ve never once seen a party on the streets. (Nor have I seen guns or gun violence).

The data, such as they are, back me up. There have been two shootings in Weston in 2019. Neither happened after hours. One happened in broad daylight, outside a convenience store—perhaps we could pull their lottery-tickets?

Nunziata’s efforts to clamp down on gun violence should be applauded. But this is neither a real effort nor clamping down. It’s a waste of time.

Worse, it’s an embarrassing slander against our town. Nobody wants to live in a place like she describes—but her riding is nothing like she describes it.

If Nunziata were serious about preventing crime and keeping kids safe, she could have funded after-school programs at libraries.

 

Frances Nunziata has egg on her face

Frances Nunziata ended up with egg on her face after a Twitter blast yesterday from Chiara Padovani, her former rival for the Ward 5 seat.

Padovani pointed out that though Nunziata had promised to support affordable housing during the campaign, she voted against several homelessness and affordable-housing motions this week at City Council.

Nunziata voted against declaring a homelessness a state of emergency. She was following city staff advice–and voting with a substantial majority–when she did so. Staff said that Wong-Tam’s motion was a panicky reaction to “social and economic problems of an ongoing systemic nature that cannot be resolved in days, weeks or months.”

Nunziata also voted against making many new developments rent controlled, and against an amendment that would have made more of those units affordable and doubled the number of very deeply discounted units–and done so at enormous expense.

What to make of this? On the one hand, Padovani’s criticisms are sharp, and Nunziata did march with ACORN, the way-left anti-poverty group that was championing the amendments to the Housing Now plan.

On the other hand, we can probably be grateful the motion to spend hundreds of millions on 3700 rent-controlled units on 99-year leases was defeated. So, in this case, she voted responsibly.

Unlike Padovani, I’m not angry that Nunziata didn’t vote with ACORN. That was the right thing to do.

I’m disappointed that she ever gave the impression she would. Here we have proof positive that her campaign wasn’t honest. I’m not surprised, but I’m disappointed.

Toronto Star pans Ward 5 incumbents

The Toronto Star Editorial Board has made its quadrennial candidate endorsements for Toronto’s newly shrunken wards. The Editorial Board is once again unimpressed with the current incumbents. They bluntly state, “Frank Di Giorgio and Frances Nunziata, should be sent to pasture.”. Four years ago,  The Star said of Frances Nunziata, “Painfully ineffective in recent years, she has been one of council’s most complacent Ford followers.”.  2014’s opposition to Frances Nunziata, Jose Garcia and Dory Chalhoub failed to get their campaigns off the ground. While Mr. Chalhoub successfully argued that Ms. Nunziata had done little to help her constituents, his and Mr. Garcia’s rightward leanings put them on a par with her politically. Despite endorsements from the Star (and Weston Web – go figure) Mr. Garcia and Mr. Chalhoub placed a distant second and third respectively.

This time there are two strong candidates among those opposing the incumbents and both are left-leaning.

The Star’s Board has given the nod to Lekan Olawoye as their 2018 choice for councillor stating, “His work on talent development at MaRS and numerous community organizations make him well placed to constructively address the issues facing youth and marginalized communities.”. The other local candidate, Chiara Padovani has built an impressive campaign and will no doubt take issue with the Star’s pick.

The good news for them is that the vote will be somewhat split between the two incumbents. The bad news is that the anti-incumbent vote will also be spread between multiple candidates, thus diluting any movement for change. That’s why all candidates will be working hard to ensure that as many people as possible get out to the polls next Monday.

Voter participation in 2014 was 53% in old Ward 11 and 55% in old Ward 12. There is plenty of room to improve as some Toronto wards had a voter turnout of over 70% that year. This compared to an average of 60.4% in Toronto as a whole.  A similarly low turnout in Ward 5 this year will probably result in one of the incumbents being sent back to city hall.

Welcome to Ward 5. Nominations for Toronto Council extended.

The new ward map of Toronto. Wards 11 and 12 have merged to become the new Ward 5.

One of the quirks of the new ‘slimline council’ legislation is that nominations for Toronto councillors (and trustees) were re-opened on Monday. People who feel that their chances might be better running in the larger York South-Weston ward (now Ward 5) have another chance to throw their hats in the ring and face off against incumbents Frances Nunziata (formerly Ward 11) and Frank DiGiorgio (formerly Ward 12). There are a few well known politicians living in York South-Weston Ward 5 who no doubt will be mulling over the possibility of running; taking advantage of the vote being split between the two incumbents. Current main opposition to the incumbents, Chiara Padovani is mounting a vigorous campaign and has set up headquarters in Mount Dennis while a former Ward 12 contender from 2014 is Lekan Olawoye who has withdrawn.

I’m running for City Councillor in York South-Weston but I’m doing things differently. #ItsTimeForChange #TOpoli #YSW

Since I’m not accepting donations from corporate interests or developers, every $25 donation counts that much more. Join our movement: https://t.co/VJXDu3cYYY. pic.twitter.com/o4xjyjPMPJ— Chiara Padovani (@chipadovani) August 21, 2018

Will any of Weston’s political figures be tempted to step into the fray? Strange things can happen in the midst of chaos. For the latest list of candidates use this link.

Previous 47-seat council nominees are required to declare their intention to remain as candidates and all nominations will close at 2:00 pm on September 14 – less than six weeks from the election date of October 22.

Incidentally, Ms. Padovani should do her supporters a favour and ask for contributions over $25 – small contributions over $25 get a 75% rebate. The full rebate table is here.

Padovani takes credit for Nunziata’s vote

Chiara Padovani’s campaign is taking credit for her opponent’s vote in City Council.

Frances Nunziata voted against a motion that would give $419 million in tax relief to developers. The motion was all-but defeated in a 20-20 vote, and only one development received money by the time the amendments were done.

Padovani said:

I’m so glad to see that our campaign’s pressure to not give hand-outs to developers persuaded Councillor Nunziata to vote this way. This comes after months of community advocacy and organizing.

That may be a bit rich. I have my doubts that Nunziata voted to appease her  critics; I’ll bet she voted against the proposal because it wasn’t in her own ward and would have beggared the city.

Speaking of which, Padovani went on to write:

However, the Councillor has been pushing for the waiving of development charges in Ward 11’s Mount Dennis for years. Mount Dennis is on it’s [sic] way to becoming a pilot project for the waiving of development charges needed to fund our services.

This is wrong-headed. Dropping development charges in Mount Dennis would be good for the riding. It would encourage development, create more housing, and put downward pressure on home prices—an idea Padovani enthusiastically endorses.

There’s only one problem with it: development charges are a zero-sum game, and if we don’t pay them, someone (i.e. the rest of the city) must. We would be beggaring our neighbours—which councillors, as advocates for their own ridings and not their neighbours’—must do.