Large crowd at WPBC development meeting.

The consolidated property. Adapted from Google Maps. Click to enlarge.

About two hundred people attended a veritable love-fest at Weston Park Baptist Church on Monday evening. The long anticipated meeting was arranged to get some feedback on the development of the iconic property that includes the old Scotiabank ‘wedge’ building, the church itself and its substantial parking lot next to the UP Express station.

Steve Rowley leads the meeting on behalf of the church. Click to enlarge.

The meeting started with a history of WPBC and its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century. WPBC stresses that it has chosen to stay in Weston during all these years and has helped the community during that time by setting up community support organizations such as the W.A.E.S. food bank and Frontlines youth centre to name but two. Watching the presentation of the church’s history gave me an impression of some compassionate yet canny real-estate horse traders with the long game in mind. To that end they did a considerable amount of homework before deciding on the developer, Castlepoint Numa – represented at the meeting by President Alfredo Romano and several staff from the company. Mr. Romano’s passion for the project came through loud and clear and it was apparent that this will be something special.

 

Some interesting information came to light during the presentation; in 2005, the church pitched purchasing and sharing the current UP Express station site (at the time a Chrysler dealership that was up for sale) to GO Transit, the predecessor of Metrolinx. GO turned them down but before a deal could be made with Chrysler, GO came back to the table and partnered with WPBC leading to the current property setup. Plans have been worked on for some time to develop the site and now the church is asking the community for input.

The point of the meeting was threefold: to introduce the community to the church and developer Castlepoint Numa (with whom they recently signed a memorandum of agreement) and lastly to get some ideas from local residents.

A few ideas were also proposed by the church, one of which was to extend an invitation to the YMCA to operate out of the new development. This has been an idea for many years now.

Some of the ideas for Weston from the charette held in 2011. File. Click to enlarge.
File. Click to enlarge.
File. Click to enlarge.

Developer Romano expressed his wish that there be a retention in some form of the two iconic buildings on the site.

Residents at the meeting were asked to ‘vote’ for their preferred options using supplied red dots.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The church has promised many more consultations before anything is decided.

Another important development meeting.

This land will be developed at the corner of Weston and Lawrence. The old Scotiabank ‘wedge is on the corner and the church property extends to their parking lot currently used by UP Express commuters on weekdays. Adapted from Google Maps.

It has been a well-known ‘secret’ for some years that development is coming to the Scotiabank wedge site along with the Weston Park Baptist Church land at Weston and Lawrence. Rumours have abounded for years regarding this mega-site, painting all kinds of scenarios incorporating housing, a community / recreation centre as well as a replacement church. A new home for Frontlines was also mentioned in the rumours.

A ‘preliminary discussion’ meeting has been set up by Councillor Nunziata with the idea of ‘gathering input and ideas’.

WPBC entered into a joint venture with developer, Castlepoint Numa in June last year and according to their website the church was expecting to be shown proposals for the entire site by last fall. Based on that information,  I imagine that the ‘input and ideas’ stage has passed – but I then tend to be cynical.

Castlepoint Numa seems to be well regarded however, it was in the news a few years ago after one of their developments in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood failed, disappointing about 150 people who had paid deposits. The building would have been a ten-storey condo. According to the Star, one of the people left high and dry was none other than a son of Mayor Tory. Although the deposits were refunded, buyers were left several years behind in the ever rising tide of Toronto home prices.

Castlepoint Numa’s failed project in the Junction area of Toronto. From lowerjct.com

The explanation given for cancelling the project was Castlepoint Numa’s inability to obtain financing thanks (they claimed) to the city’s slow approval process. Read more here and here. There is evidence that Castlepoint Numa may have done this more than once.

This will be another important community meeting that will help guide the development of our ‘downtown’. We all know that development is inevitable and probably a good thing if it results in a building that works to enhance Weston rather than detract from it (as so many have done in the recent past).

Date: Monday February 24
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: Weston Park Baptist Church; 1871 Weston Road.

Backpack Giveaway

SoundCheck Youth Arts, a youth-led non-profit based in Toronto’s Weston and Mount Dennis neighbourhoods, is having a back-to-school backpack drive Aug. 31.

It is the first time the non-profit is doing it.

The event will happen between 4 and 7 p.m. at Weston Park Baptist Church, which is located at 1781 Weston Rd. near Lawrence Avenue West in Weston.

The organizers are giving away fully-stocked backpacks. There will also be a community barbecue.

However, the goods are first come first served.

Local blogger ponders Weston bone discovery.

Hans Havermann has lived in Weston for more than half a century and writes a blog mainly about mathematics and puzzles. Occasionally Hans turns his powerful mind to local thoughts and happenings such as the Denison Road underpass, his neighbourhood,  and Raymore Park. Like Weston Web, his blog has been going since 2010 and helpfully, articles are accessible by date and title so that readers can comb through the archives. This is a great site if you’re a fan of math and puzzles; an added bonus is the content of local interest.

Once Hans gets his teeth into something, he’s relentless. Sparked by a WestonWeb article on the proposed Wilby Crescent apartments, he wondered why its address is on Wilby rather than Hickory Tree where maps clearly place it. While looking for older maps of the ever changing streets of Weston, he found an article on the above photograph of bones discovered near Weston Road, south of Lawrence and decided to do some digging of his own (yes, I know). As a result of his research, he believes that the site of the bones was not as commonly believed at Weston Park Baptist Church but on a now demolished church property across the street on Bellevue.

You might want to subscribe to Hans’ blog and if you can help in his quest for more information, he’d be very interested.

TC3’s Spring Concert – June 6.

The Toronto Children’s Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company (TC3) is having its annual Spring Production and fundraiser on Saturday June 6th 2015, 7:00pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre in the prestigious St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

TC3 operates out of Weston and rehearses in the Weston Park Baptist Church at Lawrence and Weston.

This year’s concert, entitled “Get Ready”, is a celebration of gospel, cultural and inspirational music, African, Hip Hop and contemporary dance and African drumming. TC3’s young people are not only known for their talent but for their song writing creativity and ability to add a gospel touch to popular musical selections.

Special guests include Joy Lapps, known as the Princess of Pan and MC: Clairmont Humphrey, Streaming Praise Radio. Get Ready announces the beginning of an exciting season for TC3 as it begins a year of Anniversary celebrations: 15 years of changing the lives of youth!

Early bird tickets can be purchased at a discount of $5.00 off until and including Saturday (ignore the deadline on the poster).

For ticket information call 416-939-1702

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TC3’s Season Debut Concert – November 29.

Toronto Children’s Concert Choir & Performing Arts Company (TC3) is more than a choir. Bringing together young people ages 7 to 18 from across the Greater Toronto area, TC3’s mission is to promote, develop and encourage youth through inspirational song, dance and Afro-Caribbean drumming. The focus is always on establishing excellence, holistic development and first-rate performance.

For TC3’s season debut, there will be two performances at 2:00pm and 6:30pm held at Weston Park Baptist Church at Weston and Lawrence.

Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.

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Gospel Music at Weston Park Baptist Church

The TC3 Concert Choir
The TC3 Concert Choir

While some Westonians were watching Santa go by, others were cozy and warm listening to some stirring gospel music from TC3 (Toronto Children’s Concert Choir & Performing Arts Company) and their special guests, the U of T Gospel Choir.

U of T Gospel Choir.
U of T Gospel Choir.

TC3 recruits students between the ages of 7 to 18 from all over the city with the aim of enriching academic and artistic talents of their members. An impressive 90% of TC3 alumni continue to higher education after high school.

Founder and Choir Music Director, Reverend Denise Gillard expressed the hope that one day, TC3 members would be singing in the U of T Gospel Choir.

In addition to their busy touring schedule, TC3 will be performing on Breakfast Television in the next few days.