Volunteers needed

Two local groups are looking for volunteers. The MDCA is “VERY short of volunteers” at the Pearen Park skating rink. They are looking for some good people to work in the skate shop, some talented folks to coach skating after school and on the weekends. If you are interested, you can contact Simon.

From the BCA

The Black Creek Alliance is also hoping you’ll stop up to help them with their pollinator’s festival. While all hands are welcome, they are extra interested in hearing volunteer coordinators and entertainers. They’ll be hosting their first meeting at Access Alliance at 761 Jane St on Feb 11th from 6-7:30. They would be grateful if you would RSVP.

Skating is ON in Pearen Park

I wouldn’t go tonight, but the Pearen Park skating rink is now open.

Every year, volunteers zamboni the ice and manage free skates for anyone who drops by. They even offer lessons to new skaters.

It’s all gratis (though donations are welcome). It’s a beautiful, community-organized, ground (ice?)-up endeavour.

The good people at the MDCA can always use a helping hand, and they’re looking for volunteers to help with staffing the skate hut, flood the ice, and offer lessons.

 

Community safety issues meeting report.

It’s no secret that poverty and crime often go hand in hand. At the September 12 community meeting organized by several York South-Weston community associations, these items were flagged by the 90 participants as actions that would help increase safety in the community. Actions were summarized under headings which have been placed in italics.

Some of the raw data captured during the meeting. From MDCA. Click to enlarge.

To try to make sense of the raw data generated by participants, I have arbitrarily categorized the actions as Social actions (S), Police actions (P) or both (SP). To skip the raw data and see the summary, scroll to the header ‘Summary’.

Youth susceptible to gang entry:
Financially accessible after-school programs (S)
Provide job opportunities (S)
Mental health support and awareness (S)
Parenting classes and parenting help (S)
Open Weston Lions Arena for ice time (S)
Baseball teams. (S)
High school drop-out rate:
Every child to have a learning development plan used by teachers, parents and community organizations (S)
All youth in conflict with the law to be directed to education programs (S)
Gear education to work and employment. (S)
Homelessness:
Employment program for the homeless (S)
Eliminate requirement that to receive welfare you need an address (S)
Create a strategy to build more housing and improve access to housing. (S)
Gun Violence:
Restorative justice (SP)
Youth Programs (S)
Reducing program wait lists (S)
Tighter gun control (S)
Post-incarceration programs (S)
Hire more support workers (S)
Education about gun violence in schools (S)
More security in Smythe Park (SP)
Animate Smythe Park by holding events and/or adding amenities (S)
Neighbourhood walks (S)
Getting residents more information about gun violence (S)
Break-Ins:
Report to police (SP)
More outdoor lighting (S)
Talk to your neighbours (S)
Pet patrols (S)
CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) (S)
Car Thefts:
Hide valuables (S)
Security cameras (SP)
Walk or get a bike (S)
Better community engagement (S)
Fraud:
Fraud prevention information sessions (SP)
Do not share information (S)
Publicise current scams (SP)
Report fraud to the Police and to companies involved (e.g. bank scams) (P)
Hang up the phone (S)
Speeding:
More Police enforcement especially on Jane, Weston and Eglinton (P)
Police presence on random days and times (P)
30K speed limit on side streets (SP)
Speed bumps (S)
Violent crime:
Review funding, resources and support (S)
Address poverty issues (S)
Artscape programs (S)
Use High School students’ community hours to work with Elementary School students in after-school programs on art, music, sports, mentoring (S)
Neighbourhood change (?)
Police presence (SP)
Street Safety Visibility:
Fix lighting (S)
Secure vacant buildings (S)
More cameras (SP)
Increase reporting of all crime (SP)
Know your neighbours (S)
Walk your community (S)
Garbage removal (S)
Accuracy of What is Happening in Community:
Attend community meetings (S)
Read print and email newsletters (S)
Define problem accurately (S)
Ask questions (S)
Make it easier to access data (S)
Pedestrian safety:
Education from school age to seniors (S)
Reduce traffic speed limits (S)
Longer crossing times (S)
More speed enforcement (P)
Traffic calming measures (S)
Bike lanes (S)
Sidewalks for pedestrians (S)
Remove barriers on sidewalks (S)
Lighting:
Lighting audits in our community (S)
Update lighting infrastructure (S)
More solar panels (S)
Drugs:
Stay vigilant in regard to surroundings (S)
Report suspicious activity (SP)
Increase police presence (P)
Creation of a task force (TAVIS?)(P)
Install cameras (SP)
Sex assaults:
Education and training on consent and prevention of assaults (S)
Focused community engagement in schools and faith groups (S)
Police presence (P)
Lack of community police presence:
Advertise online reporting of minor crime (SP)
Report all incidents (P)
More bicycle officers (P)
Attend CPLC meetings (SP)
Lack of evidence of successful youth programs: (S)
Talk to levels of government about assessing community supports (S)
Market local resources to youth (S)
Dispensary equals crime?:
Court has to make it a punishable crime (P)
Community consultations (S)
Additional issues of concern that the meeting did not have time to deal with included:
irresponsible driving (at red lights, crosswalks, stop signs) (P)
cycling on sidewalks (P)
walking while texting on cellphones (P)
jay walking (P)

Summary:

Here is my tally of the types of measures recommended during the meeting.

  • Social actions:  62
  • Police actions: 14
  • Social and Police actions: 14

69% of the recommendations were of a preventative nature, 16% dealt with enforcement while 16% were a combination of the two. One would hope that  the political response to this excellent community effort would not distort the message from the community. In other words, the recommendations suggest most of the efforts directed to reducing crime should be go to addressing the roots of poverty and crime rather simply by adding more police officers.

Click to enlarge. From metrocosm.com

The United States has greatly increased its spending on prisons compared to education and community support. It’s clear that this approach doesn’t work. Let’s not make the same mistake here.

Incidentally, Premier Ford has said that he wants to bring back TAVIS (Toronto Anti Violence Intervention Strategy). Let’s hope he doesn’t. He’s already on record as opposing the January 1, 2019 minimum increase from $14 to $15 so it’s clear he’s not very good at cause and effect.

Update: this article was amended to correct the impression that the meeting was held under the auspices of only one (but awesome) community association.

MDCA collecting opinions on reading garden

The Mount Dennis Community Association and the library are collecting opinions on improvements to the reading garden, and they’re shooting for a grant from the City. Your opinion will doubtless help.

Reading garden plan

Complete with a vertical garden, solar-panel operated ventilation and a rainwater collection system, the vision for the garden was beautifully portrayed in local resident and George Brown Architectural Technology student, Rachel Carter’s concept drawing.

 

Net zero sets the media on fire

Mount Dennis’ Net-Zero drive has set the media world ablaze (with low-carbon emissions). About 60 people turned up to hear the plans for Toronto’s first EcoNeighbourhood at the open house this Monday.

The CBC and Metro ran a nice pieces on the developing plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, reduce strain on infrastructure, build energy resilience, and provide local growth.

District energy systemAccording to the city, building retrofits (especially to apartments) and more stringent design of new buildings can virtually flatten emissions growth if—a big if—almost everybody participates. Solar power can put another, albeit small, dent in emissions.

Block-scale infrastructure projects have much promise. These are technologies your correspondent is unfamiliar with, such as sewer-heat recovery , district energy systems (DES) and combined heat and power (CHP)plants.

District energy systems are already used elsewhere in Toronto. Instead of each building having heating and air conditioning, production is done centrally. Pollution reduction comes from hooking up to CHP plants, which use waste heat from energy production to warm water and homes.

The city says that 21% savings can be achieved in less than 5 years. Conserving more than half of the energy consumed will take more than 10 years.

 

 

 

 

Weston and Mount Dennis are sparkling

The Weston and Mount Dennis areas are (a little more) sparkling after community volunteers took to the parks, alleys, and streets this past weekend as part of a city-wide cleanup.

About 12 people turned up at Elm Park in Weston, and more kids and adults at the park joined in as the day went on, according to Patricia Videla, who organized it. They certainly stayed busy. “Some of the participants headed to the old hospital site to clean while the rest of stayed back at Elm Park.  Afterwards, we all headed to Pelmo Park to pick up rubbish.”.

Another group, including volunteers from the WKNC, tackled the area around the BIA, and the indefatigable MDCA will this weekend have the last of its five cleanups at the Eglinton Flats SE entrance.

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From Nunziata’s Twitter
WKNC volunteers
From Nunziata’s Twitter

Tory’s transit plan under attack. Again.

John Tory’s transit plan for Mount Dennis has come under scrutiny, and has raised some community hackles. The Globe and Mail sent a reporter out this past weekend to check it out.

His verdict? It’s never going to happen.

The city-wide problem is substantial: Tory doesn’t know how to pay for it. But the Mount Dennis problem is significant too: how can this mammoth thing be built on the cheap?

The article is succinct in its assessment:

Mr. Tory has said he won’t demolish homes or run surface rail through parks, so you cross off those areas. You can eliminate places where development is pending. The rail corridor will have to be at least 30 metres wide, so any open space more narrow than that is also out. After that it’s simple math. Metrolinx standards are that their trains cannot go up or down at greater than a 2.5-per-cent angle, a common passenger rail restriction….

This process suggests that, if the train goes underground at Mount Dennis, it cannot come above ground until just west of Martin Grove. It would emerge about 8.5 kilometres from the rail corridor where the tunnel began.

 

Tunnelling costs, roughly, $200–300 million per kilometre. The Mount Dennis section of the track would cost, then, about $2 billion—or about a quarter of the total budget. And that’s just for the Mount Dennis tunnel.

The SmartTrack plan isn’t popular with Mount Dennis residents either. The Mount Dennis Community Association issued a scathing press release that said, amongst other zippers,

“We’re not prepared to stand by and watch a plan unfold that could cause traffic chaos for residents, seriously hurt local businesses and divide this community in two without demanding answers,” said community association vice-president Jules Kerlinger. “And we want answers before the election on Oct. 27, not after.”

Tory has said that he will meet with the community association, though he hasn’t said where or when.