Library Union says Weston branch in danger

The Library Union says that the Weston and Mount Dennis libraries are in danger of being closed because they have low circulation and are in the ward of a councillor who supports Mayor Ford’s cost-cutting plan.

Frances Nunziata, our councillor, is a long-time ally of Mayor Rob Ford. She supported him early in his election campaign, and she was given the role of Speaker in council. Her position, according to the Toronto Public Library Workers Union, now puts her in danger: she cannot be seen fighting his policies.

Both the Weston and Mt Dennis branches—the only ones in her ward—have low circulation numbers. Weston circulated 153,000 books last year; Mt Dennis circulated 130,000. The library that Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, said he would close “in a heartbeat”, has a circulation of 93,000, and a typical Toronto library circulates about 320,000 books, more than twice as many as Weston.

The press release is speculative. Nobody knows whether branches will be closed, or how that decision will be made. The library board voted Tuesday to defer until September considering the KPMG report that recommended branch closures . The press release says,

“We don’t know how the closure decisions will be made but it is not going to be an easy task, politically speaking,” says Maureen O’Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union Local 4948.

“If it is done strictly by circulation, residents in the Executive Committee’s wards will suffer the most because those councillors strongly support the Mayor’s cost cutting agenda and would have no other choice but to vote to close those libraries.”

Councillor Nunziata Clarifies Her Comments

Few Weston Web articles generate the kind of response we received in the recent article ‘Nunziata Responds to Muggings’. As a result, Weston Web asked Councillor Nunziata some of the questions raised by readers.

In an exclusive interview, she clarified her comments about Chaminade College students and says her original words were the result of a ‘miscommunication’. She also acknowledged that the muggings at Weston and Lawrence were very unlikely to have originated from students at that school.

We discussed other matters such as why she will oppose future license applications for bars in Weston. Councillor Nunziata says she has no problem with applications being approved as long as there are conditions attached to ensure good behaviour; e.g. adherence to licensed hours and noise suppression. After a year these conditions would be lifted. She claims that there are too many licensed establishments along Weston Road and Jane Street already, and that some legitimately licensed establishments operate after hours too . She’s ‘had many complaints from residents.’ I asked if any licence applications ever come from deserving businesses and was told that as long as they agree to the conditions and have not caused problems in the past, they will not be refused a licence.

We returned to the topic of crime and the TAVIS initiative. I mentioned my pet peeve which is that while the TAVIS program has great potential and is a great asset to the community, officers tend to hang around in groups of three or more (let’s not call them gangs) and could cover more ground and have more contact with the community in smaller groups. Ms Nunziata replied that the grouping format was agreed to in the TAVIS meetings, as was the location of the surveillance cameras (which, perhaps, could have produced better results along Lawrence Avenue, since much of the crime seems to occur there).

Thanks to our readers for such a vigorous response.

Nunziata All Shook Up in Lions Park

Here in Weston we may not have had Will and Kate, but Frances Nunziata sang with ‘Elvis’ yesterday at the July 1st bash in Lion’s Park. How did she compare? Let’s say that she is a gifted politician and leave it at that!

Thank you, thank you very much.

This year for the first time, organizers put up decent fencing to contain the fireworks area thus allowing access to the park via the Humber footbridge. Many people made a day of the occasion, and several food outlets did a brisk trade. The fireworks were spectacular.

Swanek Park Update

The wheels are in motion to start the improvements in Swanek Park. Here are some highlights from the meeting this week:

  1. Correcting the drainage has been identified as the number one priority. We can expect this to begin as early as Fall, 2011.
  2. An asphalt walking path will be built along the perimeter of the park
  3. Improvements will be made to the baseball diamond, including new benches and bleachers
  4. The existing play structure will be changed (with the exception of the rope climber which is relatively new). New swings, a play structure and a trellis structure to provide shade are also in the works.
  5. A community notice board will be installed at the Queenslea entrance where residents can get/post information about what is going on in the community.

Most community members seemed pleased with the proposed plans. Now we have to get funding. It is estimated that this improvement will cost approximately $500, 000.00 (much of that is due to the severe drainage problem). It is expected that the improvements will take place in phases (each phase when funding is available).

Many thanks to Councillor Nunziata and City of Toronto Staff for putting these plans together. And a huge thank you to the Pelmo Swanek Community Association (PSCA), especially Brad Swanek and Ross Parry for the hard work and time they have put into this project (my apologies if I have omitted anybody).

On a different note, there was some talk of the possibility of having a Neighbour’s Night Out BBQ at the park this summer. If you are interested, leave a comment here or send an email to Adam here on WestonWeb  (he will pass it along to me, Nicole) and I will make sure to inform the PSCA.

Hurricane Hazel – Iconic Art Memorial Fades

Back in 2002, local artist Mario Noviello was commissioned to decorate the Eastern abutment of the old Humber footbridge. Mario’s concept was brilliant—to illustrate the old bridge and neighbourhood and replicate the front pages of several newspapers reporting on the disaster. All this was using remnants of the old bridge as a ‘canvas’. This is one of the many bridges swept away during Hurricane Hazel. Mario’s beautifully executed and extensive set of murals covered the abutment telling the story of that fateful night in 1954. Many more photographs of the mural are here.

Sadly, the mural has not withstood the elements well and has almost faded to the point of oblivion.

The main mural showing the old footbridge - photo taken in 2002

When I spoke with Mario in 2004 after the mural and plaques were unveiled, he told me that an anti-graffiti coating placed over the murals was already leading to a deterioration of the underlying paint.

Cutting the ribbon at the official opening, October 16, 2004; from left Rob Draper, Alan Tonks, Mario Noviello, Julian Fantino, Elaine Heaton and Frances Nunziata.

 

 

The mural as it looks today.

This corner of Lions Park is the nearest thing we have to a shrine commemorating the victims of the hurricane and, along with plaques describing the event, draws many a school group, walking tour, pedestrian and cyclist on their way through the park system. Thieves took about 5 minutes to remove the original cast metal plaques on either side of the new bridge—now replaced with plastic ones.  It’s truly a shame that the mural is in such poor shape. Hopefully, one day it can be restored to its former glory.

 

Swanek Park Meeting

It has been about a year since the Pelmo/Swanek community members were abuzz with talk about the proposal to relocate St. John the Evangelist Catholic School to Swanek Park. This would have resulted in many of the residents surrounding the park losing their homes. Since then, things have been very quiet around the park. The playground remains in desperate need of a facelift.

Today, the Pelmo Swanek Community Association (PSCA) announced that Councillor Nunziata will be hosting a Community Meeting to discuss proposed upgrades and improvements to the park. City staff will be in attendance to gather community feedback and discuss the plans.

Date: Thursday, June 23, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Pelmo Park Community Centre, 171 Pellatt Avenue

For further information, please contact Councillor Nunziata’s office:

416.392.4091 or [email protected]

Hope to see you there!

Another Licence Application Challenged

Councillor Frances Nunziata is seeking to protect us from another licensed restaurant, this time at 1784 Jane Street. According to our councillor, complaints were received regarding ‘drug activity, late night noise, and late-night construction’ at this address.

It seems that the previous tenant is in rent arrears and so is probably not behind the application to open a licensed restaurant.

With the public not having access to the complaints in question, the councillor may be treading on shaky ground. Are the complaints legitimate? If so, why visit upon the new tenants the sins of the old ones? Is this unnecessarily impeding the birth of fledgling businesses? Certainly, our police are capable of enforcing laws and responding to noise complaints, yet this is the second straight month that the councillor has opposed a licence application in York South Weston. If a licensed restaurant is not in compliance with the law, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) can fine them up to $5000, suspend or revoke their license. A restaurant could continue to operate but would not be allowed to serve alcohol.

There are some important issues here that need to be addressed:

  1. When politicians oppose liquor licence applications, the process should be transparent so that business owners (and the public) know that allegations are genuine (and not someone else’s fault) while protecting the identity of the complainants.
  2. A few vocal residents should not be allowed to impede the improvement of our community.
  3. Jane Street and Weston Road are commercially zoned and desperately in need of vibrant thriving businesses. Perhaps councillor Nunziata could share her vision for these streets and what she is doing to attract businesses that meet her approval.