The PC government has eliminated a program that gave 20 vulnerable students work and free-time programming at FoodShare Toronto. Summer jobs at Toronto schools are also on hold because the province cut $25 million from education programming.
Foodshare is located just outside of Mount Dennis. It “ prioritizes students who are behind in credits, newcomers, students from low-income families, racialized students and students with learning disabilities”, according to Faisal Hassan, who criticized the decision to cut funding at Queen’s Park this week. The students are “employed, supported and mentored”. FoodShare provides “them with the opportunity to earn money, job skills and up to two co-op credits.”
Hassan asked the Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, why the government is “turning its back on organizations like FoodShare, which arm students with the skills to allow them to succeed in today’s workplace”.
Thompson repeatedly dodged the question. Instead of answering with details about FoodShare or the Focus on Youth program, she spoke rather nonsensically about McDonald’s accepting applications over Snapchat—apparently not noticing the irony of putting screens and grease over Foodshare’s focus on healthy fruits and veg.
Frances Nunziata voted against building 18 youth hubs, including one in Mount Dennis, at City Council this week.
The hubs already run at 10 libraries across the city. Each costs about $130,000 a year. Included are a dedicated staff member, and “laptops, iPads, MacBooks, digital cameras, DJ equipment, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, gaming equipment (PlayStation, Xbox and Wii), board games, and more!”
They offer homework and employment help, workshops, and a place to de-stress.
According to The Star:
“The youth spaces that exist now have proven to be wildly popular.
A briefing note released by library staff earlier this year showed the number of visits to its youth hubs nearly doubled from 2016. That bump, staff said, is because new hubs became available — meaning the more youth hubs the city built, the more youth showed up.
A 2016 survey of participants found more than 70 per cent felt the program increased their feeling of safety and that they felt comfortable asking staff for help, the briefing note says.”
A couple of posts ago, I asked if anyone had data on the poverty in Weston. You can all put your calculating machines away. I think I’ve done it.
I’d heard for ages that Weston is the second-poorest postal code in Ontario. I confess, I was sceptical, since I heard this very same second-poorest thing when I lived in a bad part of Vancouver. That struck me as too odd a coincidence. I know I like neighbourhoods that are a little rough around the edges, but really.
And, it turns out, I was right. We don’t live in the second poorest. We live in the 40th poorest.
Don’t get smug, though. That’s still really bad. Weston is poorer than 92% of the rest of Ontario. The average Westonian makes $33,422, while the average Ontarian makes $54,000.
To make the comparison, I downloaded 2015 tax data (the most recent year available) from Revenue Canada. Obviously, we don’t all live in a single postal code, but we live in a single FSA—a Forward Sortation Area: M9N. (Mount Dennis shares M6M with a few other communities.) I eliminated all the FSAs that didn’t start with L, M, N, K, or P, the postal codes for Ontario.
With a bit of Excelling, I came up with the following:
Mount Dennis is in the 21st-poorest region in Ontario, poorer than 95% of all postal codes.
Weston is the 40th poorest region, poorer than 92%.
The poorest area is Thorncliffe Park, Toronto, and part of Jane and Finch is the second-poorest. Residents there make less than $25,000 per person per year.
Lawrence Park has the highest-income residents. They make $212,000 a year, per person.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.