Yesterday’s article covered the state of retail in Weston / Mount Dennis.
One of the factors that makes a big difference to an area is the public domain. Anyone who has been to Europe will know how well the public domain is looked after.
Far less public domain money is spent here in Toronto and especially in Weston / Mount Dennis where spending is further suppressed as our BIAs have smaller budgets, our Section 37 money is scarce and our politicians have an unfortunate obsession with keeping property taxes (the lowest in the GTA) at or below the rate of inflation. Spending initiatives that could improve public facilities are often voted down.
As a result, the things that can help iron out differences between rich and poor are suppressed. The homeless are treated with contempt. Public housing is in disrepair; cycling and walking are dangerous, our library, recreation and and parks system are underfunded and garbage and leaf litter, is allowed to accumulate. Cars dominate our streets while the TTC receives the lowest subsidy of any major city in North America. Climbing the social ladder is harder than ever because politicians worry that they’ll be voted out of office if they support tax increases. A recent study by the World Bank has discovered that when inequality goes up, there is a corresponding increase in the murder rate.
What has to change? Our political system is a shambles – more on that tomorrow. We need leaders at all levels of government who understand the connection between adequate public domain funding and helping people move out of poverty. Gentrification is often seen as a solution to our problems in WMD. It’s not. It simply forces poor people to relocate instead of helping them climb the ladder out of poverty.
The answer is more money spent on helping the poor help themselves. More money, for example, to fix the appalling repair backlog at Toronto Public Housing, more money to properly fund our public institutions and spaces. We also need to beautify our streets here in WMD and reduce the enormous amounts of real estate given over to the car. Will it be Weston or Mount Dennis that gets the first traffic free street in Toronto? (Toronto is one of the few cities in the world without a public pedestrian / bike only street.) We also need to find ways to improve access to the beautiful Humber River that meanders through WMD.
In summary, we need to tell our elected representatives that our priority is improving the public domain and not keeping taxes low. Poverty sucks and feeds on itself. It won’t go away without heroic efforts.
The constant, artificial shortage of tax dollars puts the squeeze on the most vulnerable among us; people who traditionally don’t apply political pressure and can’t make generous campaign contributions. Even more insidiously, the constant trimming of budgets is designed to make public institutions fail and the private sector look good by comparison.
Make no mistake, underfunding the public domain impoverishes us all and lowers our quality of life.
Urban Arts will be completing two new local murals this month. One will be under the Lawrence Avenue bridge and the other under the Scarlett Road bridge. These will be viewable by pedestrians and cyclists and will have an indigenous people theme. Cree Métis artist Jason Baerg, and his team of mural painters presented ideas for comments last night at the Weston Library. Both murals will be painted on long and narrow bridge abutments that run under the respective roads with a stylized thunderbird theme for the Lawrence bridge and a sweetgrass theme for the Scarlett location.
The indigenous people theme is particularly appropriate since the Carrying Place Trail ran alongside the Humber for thousands of years before European settlement of the Weston area.
Today was a busy one in Weston. The Weston Farmers Market was open with a few stalls. Next week will be bigger and better. According to vendors, business was brisk. Everyone I spoke to was pleased with their sales.
The Farmers Market wasn’t the only activity happening today.
Down in the Humber Valley, exercise was on the minds of many.
The Weston Public Library is trying to fold 1000 paper cranes before the end of the month, and they would like your (or your kids’) help. It sounds like fun:
In honour of Asian Heritage Month, Weston Branch is attempting to make 1000 origami paper cranes. An ancient Japanese legend narrates that those who makes 1000 paper cranes will be granted a wish by the Gods. While we may not be able to be granted a wish, it certainly would make for an eye-catching display!
Drop in after school between 4:00-5:30 pm Monday through Friday and learn how to fold a paper crane. Challenge ends on Tuesday May 31st.
The Weston Public Library will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on Saturday, November 22. The party starts at 9 and lasts all day with a street band, an entertainer, police on horseback, a firetruck, a choir—and the official launch of Weston’s Pages of History project. (A hint: you can get a sneak peak, and it looks great!)
Metrolinx will also be having the last of their construction thank-you gatherings that weekend. It will be held at the GO Station Parking Lot, 1865 Weston Rd, on Sunday, November 23 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.
Volunteers from the York West Active Living Centre spent yesterday morning cleaning up the gardens at the Weston Library to prepare for Doors Open Toronto, which happens this weekend. For the first time (that I can remember) a building in Weston is on the tour. The Weston Public Library is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
The YWALC also announced summer job openings for two students between 15 and 30. Click on the attachment below for the details.