BlogTO has a thoughtful piece on the Mount Dennis Jane’s Walk from last weekend:
The next stop was Building 9, the old Kodak employees building that’s all that remains of the vast American film company’s Canadian plant. Sitting at the end of Photography Drive, it’s become an unofficial symbol of the neighbourhood – a last remnant of the company that made Mount Dennis and a sad example of the neglect with which it’s treated.
A Metrolinx representative gave a presentation on the transit complex that’s going to be built on the old Kodak lands – a combination of maintenance yards and garages for the new fleet of LRT trains and a transit hub joining Mount Dennis station with a new GO station. While struggling to keep the wind from blowing away his poster-sized renderings of the future development, he pointed out that Building 9 is to be retained as part of the complex, with its first floor serving as a concourse.
What no one could say was what would happen to the three floors on top of that, currently open to the elements as a result of years of “demolition by neglect” overseen by the site’s former owners, Metrus Properties. I asked councillor Nunziata what the city would like to see, but all she could say that there were discussions and meetings still on the schedule to determine the best way to repurpose Building 9 for “community uses.”
The Toronto Star group has a couple of articles on Mount Dennis and the old Kodak lands that are worth a read:
Fridays when families gathered in the auditorium of the Recreation Building to watch motion pictures or musicals by employees in the Kodak Theatre Company.
Christmas parties where kids who were 10 finally got a camera. The building’s gym with its wood slat floors and painted shuffle board courts; the darkroom for photo buffs, the locker room for athletes.
The building was at the heart of Kodak Heights, the 23-hectare factory that employed thousands of people until it closed in 2005.
Today, the recreation building is the only one still standing.
The tunnel boring machines that will carve out the Crosstown LRT are about to rumble through the earth under Eglinton Ave. W.
And that means the deserted Kodak lands in Weston-Mount Dennis will spring to life in the next couple of years.
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.