A banking desert in Weston / Mount Dennis?

From love money.com

Banking in Canada is pretty much a license to print money. Profits have never been higher and the big five banks enjoy a comfortable living. With the trend to computerized transactions, banks are finding that many of their customers have no need for a ‘bricks and mortar’ branch. Over the past few years, branches in Weston and Mount Dennis have been ‘consolidating’. This is banking language for closing and sending customers to the next nearest branch. As a result, Weston and Mount Dennis are quickly becoming a banking desert. At one time, we could choose from several banks but now, banks are closing their branches along Weston Road and Jane Street. While it’s true that demand has lessened considerably, many older residents need the comfort of talking to a teller and having their bank book updated regularly.

Like melting snow in a dog park after a long winter, what’s left behind after banks leave are payday loan companies that exploit the poor and vulnerable.

What does the future hold for banks and their branches? Probably more of the same resulting in less convenience for customers.

There is a possible solution to all of this consolidation and one that would be a ‘win’ for both banks and their clients. At least one storefront bank branch could remain open in each community. It shouldn’t matter which bank is represented as long as it services costumers from any of the other ‘big five’ banks without charging a fee. This is entirely possible in these days of Interac banking. Banks could consult with communities and decide which bank is represented in each locality. The banks could save a fortune with a clear conscience knowing that everyone; especially vulnerable seniors, had reasonable access to a bank.

The federal government is responsible for regulating our extremely profitable banks and their activities. Local MP Ahmed Hussen should take this on as a top priority before banks all leave town. If payday loan companies can have branches everywhere, it’s not too much to ask that one ‘big five’ branch stays open in each community. Competing brewers sell their wares through Brewers Retail. The banks need to set up something similar.

Eglinton LRT meeting tomorrow

The city will host a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) on updated plans for the Mount Dennis section of the Eglinton LRT.  The new plans call for extending light rail to the airport area (instead of John Tory’s original plan for subways), fewer stops, and some very cool grade separations to clear busy intersections.

Image from transit.toronto.on.ca

The meeting will be Wednesday, November 15, at York Humber High School (100 Emmett Avenue)  from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m.

 

Will Weston become a food desert?

 

The Greenland Food Market property has been sold and the business was recently put up for sale. What will become of food shopping in the walkable areas of Weston? The GF supermarket building is large – it once housed a Loblaws and has an excellent selection of produce and ethnic foods and spices. It serves hundreds of people within walking distance. The next nearest supermarket is the Loblaws Superstore at Weston and the 401 which is a considerable way when carrying groceries. The term ‘food desert‘ has been applied to areas in the U.S. where there is a lack of a healthy variety and selection of food. Weston may be in grave danger of becoming a food desert when Greenland Farm closes.

Greenland Farms produce section (file).

The GF site owner and developer has shown some attractive artist renderings indicating that a food retailer may be occupying the ground floor of the proposed high-rise. The bottom line is that the attractive drawings are done purely to attract support for the project. The actual building may be completely different. Without a legal requirement, the developer has neither wish nor obligation to specify the businesses that may lease space in their building.

Let’s hope that our councillor is working to ensure that vibrant and varied food sources are available in the densely populated parts of Weston and Mount Dennis.

Why a minimum wage of $15 will be good for Weston / Mount Dennis.

Note the more than four years of no increase between 2010 and 2014

The chart above shows the modest proposal to boost the Ontario minimum wage as put forward by the Liberals:

$11.40: today’s minimum wage
$11.60: Oct. 1, 2017
$14: Jan. 1, 2018
$15: Jan. 1, 2019

How much would a $15 hourly wage be as an annual salary? Just under $29,000 for someone working an 8-hour day, 20 days a month for 12 months a year. It’s not exactly high living.

Alleged think-tanks like the Fraser Institute claim that as many as 50,000 people will lose their jobs if the MW is elevated to such lofty heights. The Fraser Institute BTW, is one of the many propaganda arms of big business, generously supported by all of us because it has been allowed to call itself a charity. There are also claims that prices will rise as a result. Even the media seems to be repeating (many false) claims of impending doom without checking the facts.

In 2015 about 1.7 million people in Ontario earned less than $15.00 hourly. Incredibly, that’s just under 30% of the workforce. In Weston / Mount Dennis that percentage is likely considerably higher since we are one of the poorest areas of the city.

What we do know is that unlike the rich, poor people don’t send their money to tax havens. They spend it when they get it and largely on local goods and services. Income and sales tax revenues will actually rise as workers will pay more income tax and many may not need to apply for tax credits – a form of government wage subsidy for employers.

A study done last year, reported in the Huffington Post investigated the effects of raising Wal-Mart wages in the U.S. from $10 an hour to $15. The study concluded that revenue for the giant chain would be reduced by $5 Billion annually. Compared to the total annual revenue of $482 Billion, that works out to a hit of about 1%. In other words, raising wages 33% would increase costs less than 1%. Why then doesn’t Wal Mart raise wages? Share prices and dividends might go down.

From: http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/minwage.htm

Australia has a similar economy to ours and currently mandates a minimum wage of $18.29 – somehow, the universe has managed to stay in one piece. Perhaps Australians believe in fairness more than we do.

Our readers might want to tell local MPP Laura Albanese that they support increasing the minimum wage.

Use the link here:

Weston students streamed into dead end pathways

York South–Weston students are being streamed into high-school programs that limit their life opportunities, according to Social Planning Toronto.

The province formally did away with streamed high-school programming many years ago, but much of the old system persists, SPT says.  The results are profound: students choose “academic” or “applied” courses in grade 8 that will affect their careers, and earnings, for decades—and they do so without knowing the difference.

Further, “low-income and marginalized students [are] over-represented in lower level courses”.

Map of applied courses
A single map in the report tells a sad and scary story: students in the poorer horseshoe around wealthy old-Toronto take more applied courses.

Applied courses are an academic lobster trap: easy to get into, but hard to get out of. Students are asked to take make-up courses in the summer or after school to make the transition into the academic program.

The report recommends:

  • Delaying choices about education pathways for as long as possible
  • Improving de-streaming
  • Providing better support for students who want to move into the academic stream
  • Improving communication about pathways to parents and students
  • Providing better one-on-one support, especially from teachers

 

 

 

Prehistoria Museum is so cool

Mount Dennis has the coolest museum in Toronto. InsideToronto profiled them this week.

Prehistoria is a museum devoted to weird and wonderful artifacts from around the world, and its sister store sells many of them, including  cave bear molars, beaver teeth, and human bones and brains. If you’ve ever wanted to own an “overmodelled human skull from the Iatmul peoples of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea”, you may only get one chance.

Prehistoria is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from noon until 6 at 1193 Weston Road.

 

Today in Weston July 9, 2017

On Sunday evening, people watch from the banks of the Humber in Raymore Park as firefighters battle an equipment blaze on the other side. A digger appears to be burning at one of the sewer upgrade sites on the opposite bank. It is not yet known what has caused the blaze.