Weston is a “red zone” for bikes—but that isn’t changing

The city says that Weston and Mount Dennis are “red zones” when it comes to cycling and social equity—but it isn’t doing much about it.

The city says that Weston Road would make an excellent bike route (red in the map below). But according to Spacing Magazine, it’s not going to happen. It’s not part of the city’s 2021–2023 implementation plan.

Jane St (orange) would make another good route, but it will only be studied —though, as I reported earlier, the city had been planning extensive bus-only lanes. As far as I know, the orange route along the railway tracks is only a dream.


Planners did say that there will be

Weston neighbourhood connections extending from Silverthorn Ave and Trethewey Dr.. and will connect to the Mid-Humber trail and
closure of the gap.

However, in the city’s recent briefing slides, these connections are only to be studied.

Mount Dennis is in particularly bad shape, with less than one percent of the street (measured by the kilometer) having a bike route. However, Mount Dennis looks to be getting only a path along Eglinton, to connect to the new station.

Transportation Services will be reporting on their new bike plan for 2021–2023 later this fall, and will bring it to City Council.

Another food outlet for Weston

The site of the new Church’s Texas Chicken in 2018. (file)

Atlanta based Church’s Texas Chicken (formerly known as Church’s Chicken) will soon have a franchisee occupying the old Bank of Montreal building (the bank where time stood still™) on Weston at John Street. It will be a stone’s throw from the Popeye’s Chicken just up the street and directly across from P&M Restaurant. Close by are Pizza Pizza and Zeal Burgers to name but a few. Yet another food outlet in a small area seems to be a gamble on the part of the chain but at least it’s one less prominently empty building in Weston.

Church’s will begin renovations after July 1st when they take over the building.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the exterior of the old 1906 building constructed for the Bank of British North America. It was in continuous use as a bank for over a century, gaining the Bank of Montreal name in 1918 when the two banks merged.

Let’s hope the exterior renovation won’t be too garish. Perhaps the Weston Historical Society knows when and why the second storey was removed. The brick building further along John Street looks to be where Peter the Barber’s is today. Could it be the same building?

The bank building during construction in 1906. Adapted from the Toronto Public Library image. (Click to enlarge)

Mati’s coffee is gone

Mati’s Coffee on Weston Road has closed. Mati’s opened in May of 2018, and the owners, Konjet and Derrge Tadewsa, had started their own business after working at Tim Hortons.

In a bitter (pun intended) twist, Tim Hortons opened a franchise earlier this month only steps away from Mati’s.

Konjet Tadewsa and her son receive a City of Toronto congratulatory diploma from Business Improvement Association Chair Masum Hossain on Saturday May, 26. Husband, Derrge and other family members were on hand to lend support.

 

Staff blast Greenland proposal

Roy will have his own article in a moment, but here is my summary of the city’s report on the Greenland building: Absolutely not.

The report rejects the proposal on many different levels. But, in short, the building is far too big and will hurt, rather than “regentrify”, Weston.

The report will be presented to community council on January 8.

At issue is a proposal for two 29-storey towers joined by a very large podium on a relatively small site at Weston and Little.  The official plan for Weston limits buildings to 8 storeys, and fewer close to the road, so the proposed building is far larger, far denser, and far more imposing than permitted. Indeed, the buildings look like a tornado dropped Toronto onto Weston’s heritage.

The developer’s concept drawing of the finished product. Note the size of the storefronts at the base of the structure. Click to enlarge.

The city report says that the proposed building “would result in a bulky, overwhelming presence”, “fails to address the local and planned context” and “is inappropriate for the site”. Staff say the plan should be rejected and redesigned as a “mid-rise building with a 45 degree angular plane provided from the Neighbourhoods, open space and low-rise areas and that particular attention be paid to heritage features”.

It’s not just the architecture. The building will have effects on community space and infrastructure—perhaps for decades. The report says Weston will need:

  • a new elementary school,
  • a new public community centre and
  • a new child care centre

None of these will be built quickly. St John The Evangelist took 5 years just to build—and months were wasted on legal wrangling over a culvert.  A culvert. Could you imagine what it would take to build a school from scratch?

The developers aren’t only asking to draw down Weston. They’re hoping to provide too few common elements for the future owners. They would like to provide less than half the required amenity space and too few parking spaces.

The city has made it clear that residents and representatives  must reject this proposal and demand it be redrawn, from scratch, with the community in mind.

WHCD Study expansion

The city will be looking at part of Weston to determine whether it has a unique character, and whether is should be recommended for conservation and enhancement. The WHCD will be having a meeting on August 21 to discuss the new areas and next steps.

The effort to create heritage districts in Weston has been going on for quite a long time. It started in 2004, and the first phase was completed in 2007, with the creation of a conservation district in two areas around Weston Road.

Phase Two was to include the area between Rosemount, Pine, Church, and MacDonald.

Now, however, the city has taken over planning of conservation districts, instead of leaving it in the hands of community groups.  The WHCD says that the city is “ready to proceed with the study of the Weston Heritage Conservation District, Phase II, with the intention to go by the old boundary to Elm Street.“¹

Heritage conservation districts are “historically or culturally significant and require special care and attention in the planning process to ensure that they are conserved.”

A heritage designation limits what people can do with their properties.  Construction and restoration must be done with neighbourhood guidelines, and demolition is not allowed under most circumstances—including by neglect.

 


¹ My emphasis. Also, full disclosure, I live just past Elm Street.

WVRA hosts AGM in Weston Hub

On Tuesday May 14, the Weston Village Residents’ Association held its annual general meeting inside the new Weston Hub. The Hub interior still needs some final touches but is essentially complete. Landscaping is a work in progress but it’s coming along nicely and will be ready for next year. The official opening is on May 25th and 26th.

WVRA Chair Dave Bennett opened by talking about some of the ‘heat’ encountered when the Hub was proposed. This was later echoed by Councillor Nunziata.

For some warm reading go here, here, here and here.

You’re welcome Dave and Frances.

This area will house the Farmers Market next year. (click to enlarge).

Landscaping work has been done at the Hub entrance. Note the bridge connecting the multi-storey parking lot to the rental building.

The new space easily accommodated the 50+ people in attendance. LoriAnn Givran from Artscape, talked about the new facilities, Marlene Mackintosh from UrbanArts and Michael Kelly from Shakespeare in Action introduced themselves and the programs that they offer.

The highlight of the evening was to be a presentation from former Toronto Chief Planner Paul Bedford but because of illness, Mr. Bedford was absent but ably represented by colleague and Urban Lands Institute Executive Director Richard Joy. The presentation dealt with the ULI Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Report tabled last August.

From the TAP report (Click to enlarge).

Richard dealt with the five big ideas from the report, namely,

  • Promote and plan Weston as a riverfront community
  • Market Weston as an affordable commercial and residential location for airport workers
  • Bring a brewery to Weston
  • Build partnerships with Universities and Colleges
  • Establish a co-op grocery store.

Later, Councillor Frances Nunziata spoke and talked about local issues including the upcoming paving of Weston Road and widening of sidewalks in the stretch between Lawrence and Little Avenue.

Sidewalks along this stretch of Weston Road are being widened.

Sidewalks along this stretch of Weston Road are not being widened. Go figure.

During the break, some mouth-watering goodies were available (well done Suri) and attendees enjoyed a tour of the new facilities.

A conference room.

One of the two large event rooms.

The lobby of the Weston Hub; WVRA Chair Dave Bennett (3rd from R) talks to residents.

The lobby – entranceway.

Michael Kelly of Shakespeare In Action speaks to the audience in the main presentation space.

Some aspiring politicians were in attendance including Yafet Tewelde and Chiara Padovani.

Chiara Padovani and brand new WVRA member Ryan Demchuk chat during the break.

It was a busy evening with lots of information – to hear a recording of the full meeting click the two links below:

Audio Part 1

Audio Part 2

Some reflections

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.

WestonWeb’s imaginary virtual office in busier times. From Early Office Museum.

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.

20. St John’s Anglican Church up for sale. February 2016. The mid-19th Century church at 2123 Weston Road was for sale at that time.

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.

17. Atlantic Salmon should hit Weston this weekend. September 2013. This one is popular when salmon are running in the fall.

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.

A prop NYPD car outside Weston Lions Arena in November 2012

14. Longtime York South-Weston resident and advocate to become NDP candidate. November 2017. This article about (now MPP) Faisal Hassan is from guest writer Riley Peterson.

13.  WCI home to the youngest recipient of Volunteer Toronto’s Legacy Award. June 2016. This was written by one of our student writers, Natalie while she was a student at Weston Collegiate Institute.

12. Weston youth flies to Sweden to represent Canada in Youth World Cup. July 2014. An earlier article from Natalie about a talented WCI soccer player.

11. Zeal Burgers; real burgers. October 2016. Yet another of our student writers, Lieselotte Noort writes about the best burger joint in town.

10. P&Ms – lots of history and a bright future. June 2012. Guest writer Melissa wrote this about the restaurant that has been serving Westonians for decades.

The old P&M location.

 

9. New vegetarian restaurant. March 2016. This is about Budda Chay, the vegetarian restaurant at 1784 Jane.

8. Wakame Sushi is the best sushi joint in Weston. March 2012. Another of Adam’s excellent restaurant reviews; Wakame Sushi is still going strong at 2625 Weston Road.

7. Book review: Safe as Houses. August 2012. Adam’s review of an excellent novel by Eric Walters, written for young adults based around the historical background of Hurricane Hazel.

6. Mark DeMontis is PC candidate. November 2017. This gentleman generated considerable interest during his campaign to become a PC MPP. Adam’s astute observations proved to be correct.

5. Lutong Pinoy: A new Filipino restaurant on Weston. June 2016. Guest writer Charlie Siddayao wrote this about Weston’s first Filipino restaurant, still in business at 1754 Weston Road.

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.