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.

Some reflections

We’re officially in the summer doldrums – at least I am. Adam’s still incredibly productive.

In spite of having a new premier with his early announcements and the delicious prospect of October’s civic election, my side of Weston Web’s virtual office is eerily quiet with ceiling fans gently moving stale air over the desks, typewriters and silent telephones.

WestonWeb’s imaginary virtual office in busier times. From Early Office Museum.

Before the civic election campaigns begin in earnest, this might be a good time to take a breath and reflect on some of the almost 3000 articles that have appeared on Weston Web since Adam began publishing in 2010. Incidentally, every article written on Weston Web is still available and can be searched by topic or date.

WestonWeb uses WordPress which keeps statistics on the number of times each article is viewed. Interestingly, some articles have a life of their own and are constantly being read – even years after publication. Many of these most popular articles were written by student writers who are paid a small stipend for their efforts.

Grab a beverage and get comfortable; here’s a list with links to the 20 most popular Weston Web articles of all time – in reverse order. You’ll have to supply your own roll of the drums.

20. St John’s Anglican Church up for sale. February 2016. The mid-19th Century church at 2123 Weston Road was for sale at that time.

19. Weston Wins. February 2016. This is about former Premier Wynne’s (those were the days, remember?) decision to lower fares on the UP Express that resulted in dramatically increased ridership.

18. Drake general store pop up hits Mount Dennis. December 2016. Whenever you have an article with the words ‘Drake’ and ‘Weston’ in it, there’s bound to be lots of interest. Sadly for Drake fans, this was a Drake Hotel pop up.

17. Atlantic Salmon should hit Weston this weekend. September 2013. This one is popular when salmon are running in the fall.

16. 5 buildings to be ashamed of in Weston. May 2010. As a mark of Weston’s transformation over the past eight years, all of these buildings have disappeared entirely except for the Plank House which continues to sit empty and unloved.

15. TV show filming in Weston. March 2011. An interesting article on Weston’s film operations at the time. Scroll down to view an informative comment from Weston Historical Society’s Martin Proctor.

A prop NYPD car outside Weston Lions Arena in November 2012

14. Longtime York South-Weston resident and advocate to become NDP candidate. November 2017. This article about (now MPP) Faisal Hassan is from guest writer Riley Peterson.

13.  WCI home to the youngest recipient of Volunteer Toronto’s Legacy Award. June 2016. This was written by one of our student writers, Natalie while she was a student at Weston Collegiate Institute.

12. Weston youth flies to Sweden to represent Canada in Youth World Cup. July 2014. An earlier article from Natalie about a talented WCI soccer player.

11. Zeal Burgers; real burgers. October 2016. Yet another of our student writers, Lieselotte Noort writes about the best burger joint in town.

10. P&Ms – lots of history and a bright future. June 2012. Guest writer Melissa wrote this about the restaurant that has been serving Westonians for decades.

The old P&M location.

 

9. New vegetarian restaurant. March 2016. This is about Budda Chay, the vegetarian restaurant at 1784 Jane.

8. Wakame Sushi is the best sushi joint in Weston. March 2012. Another of Adam’s excellent restaurant reviews; Wakame Sushi is still going strong at 2625 Weston Road.

7. Book review: Safe as Houses. August 2012. Adam’s review of an excellent novel by Eric Walters, written for young adults based around the historical background of Hurricane Hazel.

6. Mark DeMontis is PC candidate. November 2017. This gentleman generated considerable interest during his campaign to become a PC MPP. Adam’s astute observations proved to be correct.

5. Lutong Pinoy: A new Filipino restaurant on Weston. June 2016. Guest writer Charlie Siddayao wrote this about Weston’s first Filipino restaurant, still in business at 1754 Weston Road.

4. P&M: Ready for the Move. January 2015. The story of P&M Restaurant in the weeks before moving to its spanking new location in May 2015.

3. Irving Tissue expanding. July 2012. Irving Tissue is the last of the big employers on Weston Road and guest writer Laurie Mace covered the proposed expansion of the plant.

2. Scarlett Heights Academy to close. October 2017. There has been intense interest around the closing of this school which is not strictly in Weston but obviously of interest to residents locally.

1. Ahmed Hussen wins YSW Liberal nomination. December 2014. The dramatic federal Liberal Party nomination of Ahmed Hussen astonished pundits who expected former councillor Bill Saundercook to win. This story has been accessed more than 2000 times.

Just a couple of observations: the restaurants reviewed in our top 20 are still in operation. If you want them to stick around, keep patronizing them. It’s easy to forget that Weston has undergone some quite remarkable changes in the past eight years with more still in the pipeline. With large numbers of people about to make Weston their new home, the next few years will be interesting.

Some thoughts on skipping debates

Mark DeMontis did not attend tonight’s all-candidates debate; he spent it campaigning door-to-door instead.

It makes me very sad—and angry—that he wouldn’t attend, but it fits into into a broader pattern: PC candidates across the province are avoiding their electors. They’ve skipped debates in 25 ridings as of last weekend (and now 26).

Doug Ford denies muzzling candidates, saying “I’ve never told them not to go to a debate,” but a party spokesperson was more equivocal, and political scientists say that this is part of a plan to keep attention on the party leaders—and away from local politicians.

It’s the making of a monarchy: one person—Duke Doug—is to know all and fix all. His ‘ideas’ (they’re slogans) will not be tested in the public square. Objections won’t be heard, and experts (like other candidates) won’t be tolerated.  Doug Ford is so sure that he knows what you want that he won’t let you tell him. It’s omakase politics.

Mark DeMontis also denied us the chance to see Hassan and Albanese’s ideas lit up with a bright blue light. He missed his first chance for public service: showing us what is wrong with the Liberal, NDP, and Green platforms. We’re doubly worse off because he would have been an excellent debater (he has been a public speaker and broadcaster).

Mark DeMontis should have stood up for his party and presented his ideas to be debated. He also should have stood up to his party and attended in defiance, if he was told not to go.

Dave McGregor is a brave man

Dave McGregor, a Mount Denizen, is putting his mouth where the money is to raise funds for kids: McGregor will be boxing at the 2018 Victory Charity Ball. The proceeds will go to young people who have dropped out of high school, and will help them complete their diplomas and move into post-secondary.

Photo by Krug Studios

McGregor, who will be fighting a larger and taller opponent, has been training for the fight since the beginning of the year. Far from being nervous, he says his at-risk childhood has made him ready.

I boxed as a kid and I took it up again a few years ago. I’ve met Pinball Clemons and I heard him speak. [His] charity helps kids, and the goal is to help them get back in school and get their diplomas.

I’m from Regent Park and I had to work to get through school, so it’s of profound personal importance to me. That’s my motivation for getting involved.

If I’m being completely honest, the fights I’ve been in in my life have been a  lot more dangerous than this one. The biggest strain has really been making sure that I make the goal I commented to donation wise.

 

Those who give $50 or more get a link to live stream the event. McGregor is at 78% of his fundraising goal.

Best french fries in Weston / Mount Dennis?

From Wikipedia.

I’m on a quest to find the best french fries and I need your help dear readers. French fries are my guilty pleasure. They’re packed with calories, have way too much fat and salt and probably shorten our lives but who cares? Good fries are worth it.

There aren’t that many variables in creating good fries. The type of potato is important, the fat or oil has an influence, how they’re cooked (once, twice etc.) and at what temperature as well as seasonings added before or after cooking.

The mark of a good fry is that it can be eaten on its own without too much ketchup, vinegar or mayo. My wife insists that the best fries in the world are sold at just about any food joint inside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. While I have to agree, it would be nice to find some just as good here.

We’ve quite a few places to choose from when it comes to local fries but quality seems to vary. If you go to P&M’s, you can be sure to get fresh cut fries and lots of them. Close by, Zeal Burger has great fries; especially with the ‘Z Sauce’ that Mark makes. Golden Crisp in Mount Dennis gets good reviews. Local political activist Riley Peterson insists that the fries at Weston Lions Arena are the best by far.

As a community service, readers are invited to share where the best local fries are. We are excluding chains like MacDonalds which add things like beef flavour and dextrose (a form of sugar) to their fries.

So dear readers; where are the best local fries? Please share. As part of my personal mission, I’ll be trying some at the arena this Saturday to see if the rumours are true.

Sad Postscript: Weston Lions Arena is closed until October. I went round there today and they are melting the ice.

Here are some of the comments from WestonWeb’s FaceBook account.

1916 Weston and Mount Dennis map detail

There is a huge and detailed map of Toronto, printed in 1916 that shows the various townships that make up the Toronto of today. It’s interesting to see the land holders of that time whose names now adorn our streets.

The map has been digitized and is currently hosted on the University of Toronto Library website. Below is a small section of that map showing our locale and with the folds digitally removed for clarity. It’s a fascinating look at the Weston, Mount Dennis and Lambton Mills of a century ago. The concentric circles on the map radiate from the intersection of Bloor and Yonge.

In Weston Village, Pine and Elm streets can be seen but Maria, Elizabeth and Beech streets are no more. Further south, West Park Hospital now occupies the site of the National Sanitarium where many tuberculosis patients were treated. A Janes Walk a couple of years ago toured the site of the old piggery that fed patients. West Park now specializes in many areas but treats TB patients to this day although thanks to antibiotics, not in such large numbers.

For the complete map (and many hours of browsing) grab a coffee and click  here.

From University of Toronto Library. Click to enlarge.

Dennis Ave school to be rebuilt

The province announced that Dennis Avenue Community School in Mount Dennis will be replaced with a brand-new, $10.8 million facility as part of a new $784 million funding package for schools and daycares.

It’s not all good news, mind you: Dennis Avenue School had fallen into disuse and disrepair. Whether Dennis Avenue would be amalgamated with other schools was not included in the announcement, though your correspondent thinks it likely will be merged: the TDSB had suggested that Roselands and Cordella be joined with Dennis Avenue to address declining enrolment at all three schools.