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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the break, some mouth-watering goodies were available (well done Suri) and attendees enjoyed a tour of the new facilities.
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.
Toronto City Council and its local equivalent, Etobicoke York Community Council is a strange beast. Its decisions often leave people scratching their heads. This time they’ve managed to do something right. You’d think it was an election year or something.
On July 4, the Community Council dealt with rezoning the land at 10 Wilby. Readers may remember that non-profit builder, Options for Homes has proposed a 22-story, 233-unit condo apartment building at that location. OFH prides itself on making home ownership affordable. What they do is supplement an owner’s down-payment by up to $75,000 so that the mortgage is reduced. When the owner eventually sells, OFH gets back their contribution along with a proportional increase if the apartment has appreciated in value. As a tradeoff, features like swimming pools and gyms are eliminated so that prices are held down.
The address of 10 Wilby is an interesting one as it is at the top of the Humber Valley with potential access to parkland and the Pan Am Path. Our longer term residents may remember it as the former site of the Ministry of Transportation licence office.
10 Wilby is above a curve in the river so views from the new building’s upper floors will be spectacular.
As an added bonus, Weston GO and UP Express stations are a short walk away.
In order to erect a building on the smallish Wilby site, a land swap was arranged with the business opposite so that there was enough room to meet code requirements. In rare and sensible use of Section 37 money, the Community Council on Wednesday approved rezoning and a plan that would see OFH donate and spend $800,000 in order to:
Make a cul-de-sac at the end of Wilby
Build a sidewalk along Wilby and connect it to Weston Road
Plant 25 new trees on the property and adjacent city land
Convert the Hickory Tree Road lands abutting the subject property to parkland conditions
Improve local parkland and connectivity of local parkland to the Humber River valley; and
Provide streetscape improvements along Wilby Crescent, Weston Road and Hickory Tree Road which comply with the Streetscape Manual and are to the satisfaction of the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning.
Perform an archeological study
The Community Council also thought it would be prudent to warn purchasers that local schools may not be able to accommodate pupils from the building.
For readers who are puzzled by the site actually being on Hickory Tree Road yet having the 10 Wilby address; you’re not alone. The comments following this earlier article may help.
Incidentally, there was one dissenting vote opposing the rezoning amendment; that of Ward 7’s very own (and almost Brampton MPP), Giorgio Mammoliti.