Toastmasters off to a good start.

There was a lively crowd at the inaugural session of the Weston Mount Dennis Toastmasters. The pizza was hot and the drinks cold as the latest chapter got under way in the Weston Hub last Thursday.

Toastmasters is a club that celebrates the art of public speaking and does so in a standardized format with fun exercises and challenges that are designed to help even the most bashful among us talk to an audience and hold their attention. Veteran Toastmasters from south Toronto were on hand to help organize and demonstrate how the meetings are formatted.

One of the speakers, Justin Gobel from Bathurst / Bloor Toastmasters gave a prepared speech about adopting his son and how the experience changed both their lives profoundly. The speech was moving and heartfelt and received much applause. Audience members who wished to critique his speech were encouraged to use a format that gives praise wrapped around a ‘gift’ of constructive criticism. Some audience members were later selected to give brief talks (Table Topics) about unusual experiences in their lives.

If you would like to join Toastmasters, come to the next meeting and meet new friends and neighbours. There is a special fee for the first six months of $37 – this is open to the first twenty applicants.

Toastmasters meets every Thursday at the Weston Hub between 6:30 and 8:30 pm. Come and see if it’s for you – yes there will be pizza!

L to R: Karen Goodyear, local organizer Al Farrington and Janet Heidker at the inaugural meeting of the Weston Mount Dennis Toastmasters. Toastmasters with other branches, Karen and Janet are assisting with the establishment our local branch.

Quick news updates

InsideToronto has the cool story of Mellina Orr, a young woman helping her community and bootstrapping her own non-profit.

Mellina Orr has always had a passion for helping youth and other residents in her neighbourhood: Weston.

“Even when I was younger, my friends used to come to me for help and advice and I used to help them,” she told The York Guardian.  “I find joy in doing so.”


The UPX struck a pedestrian in Weston on Thursday—though quite how this could be possible is a mystery given the fences and walls surrounding the tracks. The man was struck just east of the station.

It’s the second time someone has been struck in Weston.


There were two shootings in the Weston area last week. Two boys were

Firearm violence in WMD
Firearm violence in WMD

shot near Jane Lawrence at a pool. Another young man was shot at Sheridan Mall. Weston and Mount Dennis have had little firearm violence so far this year.


The Alia N Tanjay at the Crossroads Plaza has closed, joining HomeSense Home Outfitters, the Asian Market, and some smaller retailers.

Mount Dennis stop on the UPX

Metrolinx has—I think for the first time—confirmed that there will be a Mount Dennis stop on the UP Express train. InsideToronto has a long article, well worth the read, that says, among other things, that

Anne Marie Aikins … confirmed plans for adding a Mount Dennis stop to UP which will require additional funding.

This is great news: the UPX will be that much closer to worthwhile public transit. The only problem: the fares, which will be announced next week, are expected to be more than $20.

The article contains few other details, but I think it’s safe to assume that the UPX would intersect with the new Eglinton LRT and/or the SmartTrack. Mount Dennis is shaping up to be a new transit hub.

Albanese asks for “Fair Fare” (again)

Laura Albanese took the gloves off yesterday and released a letter asking for a “fair fare” for the UP Express. While she had asked for smart pricing of the train in August, this letter comes before the December 11 meeting of Metrolinx, where the fares are likely to be announced.

The letter is pretty scathing. She says “Metrolinx has not engaged in any meaningful and transparent consultation with the public” and that it should consult on “something so important as a fare that affects hundreds of thousands of transit users”. The train, she says, was once designed “exclusively for airport customers with no apparent concern for the communities surrounding it.”

Albanese is in favour of using the UP Express as public transit. She notes that the CEO of Metrolinx has said that there will now be six stops on the line: Union, Bloor, Eglinton, Weston, Woodbine, and Pearson. $30 fares would take the public out of the transit.

The fares should be priced differently for students, seniors, and those not travelling the full distance, she says, and,

To reiterate, the fare should reflect the fact that the UP Express is a publicly owned service, built and paid for with public tax dollars.

 

She closes with “Now is the time to seize the potential of the UP Express to serve multiple transit demands and the greater good.”

The letter is worth reading in its entirety if you have the time.

Tory’s transit plan under attack. Again.

John Tory’s transit plan for Mount Dennis has come under scrutiny, and has raised some community hackles. The Globe and Mail sent a reporter out this past weekend to check it out.

His verdict? It’s never going to happen.

The city-wide problem is substantial: Tory doesn’t know how to pay for it. But the Mount Dennis problem is significant too: how can this mammoth thing be built on the cheap?

The article is succinct in its assessment:

Mr. Tory has said he won’t demolish homes or run surface rail through parks, so you cross off those areas. You can eliminate places where development is pending. The rail corridor will have to be at least 30 metres wide, so any open space more narrow than that is also out. After that it’s simple math. Metrolinx standards are that their trains cannot go up or down at greater than a 2.5-per-cent angle, a common passenger rail restriction….

This process suggests that, if the train goes underground at Mount Dennis, it cannot come above ground until just west of Martin Grove. It would emerge about 8.5 kilometres from the rail corridor where the tunnel began.

 

Tunnelling costs, roughly, $200–300 million per kilometre. The Mount Dennis section of the track would cost, then, about $2 billion—or about a quarter of the total budget. And that’s just for the Mount Dennis tunnel.

The SmartTrack plan isn’t popular with Mount Dennis residents either. The Mount Dennis Community Association issued a scathing press release that said, amongst other zippers,

“We’re not prepared to stand by and watch a plan unfold that could cause traffic chaos for residents, seriously hurt local businesses and divide this community in two without demanding answers,” said community association vice-president Jules Kerlinger. “And we want answers before the election on Oct. 27, not after.”

Tory has said that he will meet with the community association, though he hasn’t said where or when.

Eglinton flats makes the news

I like slow news days: reporters wander off and occasionally end up here, in Weston—Mount Dennis.

The Star showed up last week and wrote a special on one of the local gems, Eglinton flats:

It is an idyllic oasis featuring wildlife, a large pond and green space that is now flooded with soccer players, tennis enthusiasts, cricketers and many less organized activities.

 

 

Mt Dennis art project sparks discussion

A controversial Mount Dennis $250,000 art project is finished and was unveiled last night.

“Nyctophilia” is a collection of streetlamps with bulbs of different colours—and in the daytime at least, it’s not pretty. Mike Sullivan, our MP, was a bit indirect in his criticism, but his comment “wherearethetrees” sums up, I’m sure, the critics who think that this art is too urban in an already urban place.

mike

 

But then look at this, a picture from the new proprietor of the Super Coffee shop in Mount Dennis

Or this one from TorontoSavvy

That’s not bad, not bad at all!

Maybe I’m stretching a bit here, but I think this art is ugly and urban and hides its potential—only to transform  overnight into something beautiful and a little startling.

I think it fits right in in Weston—Mount Dennis.

 

Thanks to KR for the tip.