Weston is a hotspot for COVID

Weston, Mount Dennis, and Humber Heights are hotspots for the COVID virus, with some of the highest rates of infection in the city. Excluding healthcare transmissions, Weston is the second-most infected neighbourhood.

The city released data yesterday that showed the geographic distribution of COVID sufferers.

 

  • Humber Heights, just across the river, has the highest rate in the city, with 1525 cases per 100,000 residents. 
  • Weston has the second-highest rate in the city: 1022 per 100,000.
  • Mount Dennis is fifth, with 904 cases per 100,000.

This is, of course, terrible and tragic, but it may be explainable by a higher concentration of nursing homes, which have been responsible for many transmissions.

In part, this is the case: excluding institutional cases, Mount Dennis and Humber Heights fall to a more typical number of cases. Weston, however, does not.

If we don’t count the number of cases in nursing homes and elder care, Weston has 705 cases per 100,000 residents—15 times the number in the beaches, and 6 times the number in the Junction.

Only nearby Maple Leaf has more cases. Weston has the second-highest infection rate in the city, and therefore among the highest infection rates in Ontario, since COVID cases are concentrated in the GTA.

 

Jagmeet Singh promises flood relief

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited York South-Weston today and heard from local residents about flooding issues in the riding. Accompanying Mr. Singh were many well known NDP faces in the area including MPP, Faisal Hassan, upcoming federal election candidate Yafet Tewelde and local organizer Chiara Padovani who conducted the tour. Mr Singh, an affable and attentive man spent a couple of hours in the area.

The leader walked from Rockcliffe Court to Hilldale Road to hear some of the issues that have not been dealt with despite years of local flooding. The recent sale of 8 acres of city owned flood plain land at 200 Rockcliffe Court exposed some of the less savoury aspects of decision making in our fair city.

The contentious land at 200 Rockcliffe.

The land was sold off to a meat packing plant in spite of residents’ objections. This is an area that routinely floods after a storm and where nearby, in a recent event, two men almost drowned in an elevator as water flooded the building they were in. Read more in this excellent article here.

Chiara Padovani talks about the controversial city decision to sell flood plain land to a meat packer.
Faisal Hassan, Jagmeet Singh and Yafet Tewelde listen to the 200 Rockcliffe story.
Jagmeet Singh and Yafet Tewelde greet Hilldale Road residents.

At Hilldale Road, local resident Franco Ruffolo opened his home to show the extent of flooding he and his neighbours have faced in the past few years. Franco showed some video of the water levels and damage that his property sustained and outlined the inadequate settlements from insurance companies. Residents in the area worry that insurance companies will no longer issue policies on their homes.

Franco Ruffolo shows Jagmeet Singh video of his home flooding.

Jagmeet Sing is proposing that instead of matching funds with the city and province, an NDP government would pay the whole cost of flood remediation work so that homeowners in flood prone areas are better protected and don’t need to wait for all three levels of government to agree. He is promising $2.5 billion to respond to disasters and support communities like York South – Weston to adapt their infrastructure to withstand floods and other extreme weather events.

The tour went off well and made some strong points. Mr. Singh delivered some concluding remarks at the end of his visit and then spoke live to the media.

Local candidate Yafet Tewelde added some remarks.

Hassan ejected from commons

Faisal Hassan, our MPP, was ejected from Queens Park yesterday after protesting Premier Ford’s plan to use the notwithstanding clause to force ward amalgamation.

The NDP members protested by banging their desks and shouting until they were escorted one at a time from the chamber by the sergeant at arms.

Hassan had voiced his opposition to the Conservative’s plan earlier in the week. He called the motion “undemocratic” and suggested it was dictatorial. On Twitter he called it “an abuse of power”.

 

Jennifer Keesmat in Weston

Jennifer Keesmat, mayoral candidate and Toronto’s former city planner, visited Weston this weekend, and hung out with our NDP MPP Faisal Hassan. She also met Chiara Padovani, who hopes to become our city councillor.

Keesmat with Hassan and Padovani

Is this the start of an allegiance? I’m tempted to enquire, but it’s one of those questions I don’t really want an answer to.

Your correspondent has heretofore not been a Keesmat supporter, because he has a long memory and will not forgive her for shoehorning a 29-storey tower into 22 John St, and (incorrectly) papering the decision with the tall building guidelines.

But this is an enchanting possibility: a sharp left turn, a unified front, and a clean break. I’m not yet in favour, but I could be.

Some election thoughts

The official York South-Weston election results are here. There were 37,296 votes cast or 50.56% of eligible voters who took the trouble to cast a ballot compared to 46.1% in 2014. Faisal Hassan 36.1% Mark DeMontis: 33% Laura Albanese: 28% Grad Murray: 2.5% Bonnie Hu: 0.6%

President Ford™ will be grasping the levers of power in a few short weeks. Every cloud has a silver lining and there will no doubt be initiatives from Mr. Ford’s team that will be good for the province. Even Mike Harris wasn’t all bad.

What lessons can we learn from this election and its result?

    1. Our electoral system needs reform. The popular vote was PC: 40.6%, NDP: 33.7%, LIB: 19.3%. The total progressive vote was 53% and yet because it was split, a government representing 40.5% of the electorate has absolute power for the next four years.
    2. Faisal Hassan fought well to win the seat for the NDP. He ran an effective campaign with a strong team that could be useful during October’s civic election. Let’s hope he can get up to speed quickly and be an effective voice for York South-Weston.
    3. Here in York South-Weston, local PC boy Mark DeMontis surfed the blue wave and almost eked out a victory. WestonWeb articles about him were insanely popular in terms of reader numbers so it was clear he would do well. I wonder if he regrets obeying orders from PCHQ to skip the debate.
    4. Local candidate Grad Murray bumped the riding’s share of Green Party votes by a mere tenth of a percentage point over the 2014 result. Let’s hope the well-spoken and knowledgeable Mr. Murray can stick around and build on his vote share. Ontario’s Green’s now have an actual MPP, meaning that they will have a seat at debates next time. Their share of the popular vote dropped from 4.84% to 4.64% so it’s not an unqualified success.
    5. Kathleen Wynne may be a decent person but she failed to support her candidates by rooting out and exposing the corruption and bad decision-making in her party. She had five years to distance herself from the scandals and boot from cabinet flagrant opportunists like Steven Del Duca and Glen Murray but failed to do so. Her cynical, last minute concession speech was designed to hobble the NDP, indicating that her true passion was power, not progressive policies. Her claim that strikes would be never ending under the NDP was straight from the Tory Party handbook.
    6. Doug Ford’s victory speech began at the same time as Kathleen Wynne’s resignation speech. Ford’s team has vast political experience so this was no accident. It may be an insight into Mr. Ford’s style of governing.
    7. On the subject of speeches, Andrea Horwath’s last night seemed irrationally exuberant. Admittedly, she has done well, becoming the Leader of the Opposition by moving to the left of her 2014 stance.  Even so, some of her election promises seemed on the fly and not well thought out. For example, doing away with ‘Time Of Use’ hydro billing would have compromised conservation attempts and battery technology applications. Excessive subsidy of hydro bills goes against energy conservation. Far better to put the money into getting people off heating homes with electricity.
    8. York South-Weston’s fragile economy will be done no favours by Mr Ford freezing the minimum wage at $14. The promised ending of provincial income tax for these workers will do little to soften a potential $1800 annual loss.
    9. The end of Carbon Tax money may mean problems for the Mount Dennis Net Zero initiative.
    10. The Eglinton Crosstown line was scheduled to run above ground along Eglinton past Scarlett on its way (eventually) to the Airport. Defeated Etobicoke Centre MPP, Yvan Baker was a proponent of burying the line. Look for Doug Ford to endorse that (very expensive) concept.
    11. Lastly, while every cloud has a silver lining, the need for Mr. Ford to find billions of dollars out of thin air will target the most vulnerable in York South-Weston and elsewhere in Toronto. New MPP Hassan should make it a priority to anticipate and publicize the ‘efficiencies’ that will have an adverse effect on his most vulnerable constituents.

Hassan wins in York South–Weston

The polls in York South–Weston closed late because our riding was a bit of a nail-biter. In the end, Faisal Hassan of the NDP won in a tight three-way race.

From The Star

Hassan took 36% of the vote, squeaking past an very strong showing from Mark DeMontis, who earned 33%. Long-time MPP Laura Albanese came in third with 28%.

 

Weston is part of the city wall surrounding Toronto, which voted almost entirely orange—in stark contrast to the rest of rural and suburban Southern Ontario.

From the CBC

That the NDP won is no great surprise. We’ve long been a centre-left riding. The big news is DeMontis’ support: he performed extremely well, riding a strong campaign and blue wave to near victory in a riding that gave the PCs only 11% of the vote in the last election.

The vote must sting Albanese, who served as a competent and reasonably-accomplished MPP. She lost through no great fault of her own, but because she was part of an inept and corrupt administration that tried to buy votes instead of staying true to its centrist principles.

Hassan will join an opposition party facing a bumbling PC leader for whom all politics is personal. Doug Ford has convictions but no principles—and we will all be sure to pay the price as he forms an evidence-free administration.

Now that the race is over, the marathon begins. Holding the PCs to account will be a test of endurance for the Hassan and the rest of the NDP.