City Councillors have a tough job. They have conflicting obligations: to work together to make the city run as a whole, and to make their own ward a better place to be.
Frances Nunziata knows her retail politics; call her, and she’ll call you back. Email her, and she’ll answer your question. She fights for the little guys and the little things.
But she’s putting the needs of Toronto above the needs of her community. She’s voting to save the city money when that money would benefit Weston—Mount Dennis.
In the City Council meeting of January 28, Nunziata voted
In favour of charging children and youth to swim at city pools
Against community grants
Against taking free money from the province money from the provincial reserve fund to fund daycare spaces
Against improving TCHC security with money from the reserve fund
Against planting trees
It’s hard to imagine why, apart from ideology, Nunziata would vote against taking free money. It’s less difficult to imagine why she wouldn’t vote to beggar Wychwood to pay Weston: she’s putting the city above her riding.
As children in poor parts of the city are dying at the hands of their neighbours, she may yet regret not taking money to improve the futures of youth in her own riding—two young men have been shot in Weston–Mt Dennis so far this year, one near Jane and Lawrence, another near Jane and Eglinton.
An update: I’ve been trying to find out more about the provincial fund from which Nunziata did not vote to draw. It’s complicated. The linked article, and an article the article links to do not make it clear that it is a reserve fund, and not replenished by the province. Her vote against drawing from the reserve makes much more sense in the context. I apologize for the error.
When I sell this dot-com of mine for a quarter billion, I know where I’m going to put it. In the meantime, if you should find a fiver (or a twenty) in a laundry pocket, might I make a suggestion? The good people at the Mount Dennis outdoor skating rink could use a few bucks.
I spoke to Simon Chamberlain; he told me how they are lending out skates–and even gloves and socks–to people in the neighbourhood to help them learn to skate and to give them something to do after school. All the money is coming out of the volunteers’ own pockets, yet they have somehow cobbled together 80 pairs of skates and done a bang-up job of running a shoestring operation. Despite (or even because) of their unofficial, low-rent, under-the-radar status, I trust them.
While I was there, I saw a dozen or so people skating, some of whom were obviously not people of substantial means. One young man borrowed a pair of skates and a shovel and set about cleaning his own area of the rink of snow so that he could practice hockey. This is the sort of thing that makes a difference.
If you can spare a buck or a few hours of your time, you can get in touch with the good people in charge of this at skates (circle-a) mountdennis.ca.
Before watching the video, turn down your speakers. The wind played havoc with my little camera.
After a lousy start to the year, crime ended up down in 12 Division, which includes Weston, say Toronto Police statistics.
The total number of crimes is down from 1423 to 1403, or 1.4%. Violent crimes are generally down: murders are down 40% (but only by two incidents); sexual assaults are down 11%; and assaults are down 6%. The one exception was, of course, robberies. There were 10% more robberies this year, up from 166 to 182.
Auto thefts were also up (+8%), but other large thefts were down dramatically—thefts over $5000 were down 25%.
In the Toronto Star today is an excellent article about the life and death of local resident Leonard Fullerton; shot dead (an unsolved crime) in October at the age of 26. His life was an unfortunate series of mis-steps from which he was unable to recover. The article raises some interesting questions about the role of schools and police in dealing with behaviour, petty crime and the uneven treatment of young black men. No doubt this young man’s parents weren’t perfect – whose are? No doubt he was into petty crime and made mistakes. How many adults can look back and say that their youth was blemish free? The point is that a young white man from Rosedale or Forest Hill would have probably been given a second chance by the school system and the police. Without such support, and with a criminal record, young black men like Leonard Fullerton have no means of supporting themselves and thus can see little alternative to a life of petty (or worse) crime.
According to an article in the York Guardian, the currently derelict Kodak building has the potential of becoming (amongst other things) an LRT station serving Mount Dennis. Metrolinx consultant Joe Berridge stated that the station could actually be under the landmark building which would be renovated to provide a variety of facilities. Read the story here.
John Lorinc, one of the few downtown journalists who truly seems to care about Weston and Mount Dennis, had an excellent article in the Globe this weekend about the failure of Metrolinx to employ local workers.
On a foggy morning this week, Wendy Whiteley dropped by the office – a construction trailer – for some practical advice about her résumé. A retired educational assistant, she wasn’t sure whether the trailer – which is open only one morning a week – will help matters. “If [Metrolinx is] trying to expand, they need to come up with job opportunities for people in the area,” she said. “Myself, I haven’t heard of anyone who lives in the area who has gained from all this.”
For many years, there have been high hopes about future development of the Kodak lands site. The site was sold to Metrus in 2006 for $19.5 million but for decades employed thousands of Mount Dennis and Weston residents directly and indirectly. In recent years came the disquieting rumour that the TTC would like to purchase the site from owners Metrus in order to install a marshalling yard. Residents were not happy about this because it would be the worst possible outcome. They have consistently told politicians that the site should be developed so that a balance of housing, parkland and top notch industry would occupy the site. A marshalling yard will be noisy, create few jobs and destroy the natural potential of the site.
Well, it’s official, except that Metrolinx quietly bought it last month and will use the entire site, presumably to shuffle and store light rail vehicles. It seems that in spite of ample warning of this looming disaster, no politician at the city or provincial level has been able to invoke the will of the people.
As long ago as 2007 the city was hoping for ’employment density’ on the site. Now the last hope is that City Council and the Provincial Liberals can act to encourage Metrolinx to be a good corporate citizen and do something to mitigate this disaster.
Is it too much to hope that Councillors Frances Nunziata, Frank Di Giorgio and MPP Laura Albanese can do a little marshalling of their own and derail this worst of all outcomes?