Yet another idea for Weston.

The video below is a striking illustration of what is possible when intelligent planning is applied to a road that runs through an area.

Jeff Speck: The Classic American Road Diet from Cupola Media on Vimeo.

As measured, the total roadway space required for everything in the video is 56 feet. The current right of way along local roads such as Weston Road, Jane and Lawrence Avenue is at their narrowest, 27 metres or 88.6 feet. Unless I’m mistaken, this would allow the modifications shown in the video with a minimum of 16.3 feet feet for sidewalks on either side. Check out various rights of way on every major street in the city here. According to the video, traffic volume doesn’t suffer and cyclists are then able to operate in safety.

Discuss.

Ginger Pho—you should go

The family and I finally had a chance to get to Ginger Pho, on Weston Road across from the Super Store, which opened about three weeks ago. (We’ve been travelling a lot, and boy are we glad to be back!)

In short—it’s great! You should go. We stuffed ourselves for $42, before the tip, including pop and appetizers. And it was good. We had leftovers and left-behinds, too.

The highlight, for me, was my wife’s vegetarian vermicelli with fried tofu and a spring roll on top. I loved it. The tofu was perfect (neither wet nor greasy, and marinated in something good), and the spring roll was great. The veggies were fresh and crispy, and the whole thing was a balance of healthy and sinful—and a steal at about $8. There are other vegetarian options, too, including a veggie pho, made without a meat broth.

We started with cold rolls ($5) which in the future, I’d skip in favour of the superb fried rolls. The kids’ chicken phos ($6 or so) came with some, for which they handily defeated me in chop-stick battle. What little I could prise from them was really great—not at all like your typical mass-produced rolls cooked from frozen; these had shredded chicken and a crunchy, blistered skin. Superb.

I had beef pho ($9), the server’s recommendation. The slightly-sweet, cardamom and cinnamonny broth was the same as the kids’, but I got bean sprouts, which would have been wasted on the little ones. The beef slices were nice, and the basil was pretty: flowering and purple. A little lime and a single chili added some colour. I got the large, which was a mistake. Even I couldn’t finish it.

The restaurant is lovely, and modestly busy. The service is great (though they did bring my wife’s meal a minutes before the rest of ours), and the menu is extensive and interesting, with lots of room for regulars to explore. There is draft lager and a few more adventurous options, including a cider and a Belgian.

 

Greenland Farm Update.

Thanks to a lapse in memory, I wasn’t able to attend Tuesday’s meeting to hear plans by the owner of 1965 Weston Road. Marion at Weston’s BIA, helped out by getting me in touch with Grenville Dungey who was there and kindly shared his impressions. Here are some of Gren’s take-aways of the proposal.

The proposal is in its very earliest stages. There was a conceptual drawing but nothing else. The basic idea is for a 6-story podium building with 4 floors residential and 2 floors of retail. On top of the podium would be a residential tower that would have a smaller footprint taking the height up to 28 storeys. Residential units would be mainly one and two-bedroom with some bachelor apartments. The owner said that wind tunnel tests would be performed on models of the tower to make sure that the building didn’t create undue wind patterns.

Gren got the impression that the owner is very keen to have community input but the owner also said that if the numbers don’t work, it won’t get built. (I’m interpreting that to mean the height of the building). There would be underground parking for residents which would be accessed from the Lawrence Avenue entrance to the site.

The next meeting with more concrete ideas will be sometime next spring. If building starts it will possibly be around 2020 before anything gets started and the construction might take between 30 and 36 months.

My Comments:

What does the City of Toronto say about that part of Weston?

Back in 2004, the City put into place guidelines for Weston, designed (among many other things) to stop further deterioration of Weston Road into a high-rise corridor. It stipulated that new buildings along the Weston Road Corridor where the GF building now stands, should be limited to a maximum of 8 storeys. Reading the guidelines almost makes one despair at the lost opportunities as they have been totally ignored in the intervening years.

No doubt the current owner bought the site for the purpose of making money by developing to a height far beyond the guidelines. When people spend money on a property, they perform some due diligence to make sure that their plans are achievable. It seems there must be high confidence that 28 stories will pass muster at council.

Incidentally, the Greenland Farm people no longer own the building and have put the business up for sale.

The current listing for the business. From realtor.ca

 

An idea for Weston?

Dunnville Ontario is a small town on the Grand River near Lake Erie. They are commemorating local war heroes through a series of banners throughout their town. An extension of this idea might be to celebrate Westonians alive or dead who have made a contribution.

Another amazing thing about Dunnville is the clean appearance possible on a street with no overhead wiring. If Dunnville can do it, why not Weston?

Weston Buskerfest coming July 29.

From Torontovka.com

The Weston Business Improvement Area posted an online survey asking residents what kind of summer festival the BIA should organize. Respondents overwhelmingly opted for a buskerfest. A date is set for Saturday July 29th and the BIA is booking ‘top buskers from other buskerfests as well as some local talent for what promises to be a great event’. Since it’s the first year, streets will not be closed. Instead, the event will focus on roaming performers and sites with sidewalk space such as 1901 Weston and the TD Bank. This year the BIA will sponsor the event and if successful, a sponsor will be sought for next year.

In other Weston BIA news, the BIA will be expanding its territory northward. This will have to be approved by council later on this year. View the current territory here.

For more information or to audition for a spot, contact Marion at 416-249-0691.

Weston, home of the Bicycle? Get real.

This is a supplement to Adam’s excellent ‘Tyraid‘ published in 2015.

At one time in Weston there was a CCM (Canada Cycle & Motor) factory that made bikes. Some time after the factory closed, Weston (through its Business Improvement Area) decided to call itself ‘The Home of the Bicycle”.

In recent years, Weston’s relationship with the bicycle has been marred by infidelity. Weston’s true love is clearly the car and bicycles are given the literal cold shoulder. Instead of encouraging cycling as a way to get around, our own councillor has in the past voted against bike lanes and has even proposed licensing bicycles – an idea that would curtail bicycle use.

More evidence of infidelity: not a single dedicated bike lane graces Weston’s streets; hardly surprising when we live in one of the few cities in the world without a single pedestrian-only street. The nearest thing we have to a bike lane in Weston is a set of ‘sharrows’ down some pretty busy stretches of Weston Road. What are ‘sharrows‘ you may ask – simply a set of stencilled chevrons and a bike image to indicate that cyclists may be present. Somehow a few licks of paint seem to allow politicians to believe that bikes are safely accommodated on our roads.

From the Toronto Star.

Incidentally one particularly dangerous stretch of Weston Road links two strands of the once vaunted Pan Am Path.

Updated map showing the multi-use trail along the Humber in Weston and the missing section between (south to north) St Phillip’s Bridge/ Weston Road and Fairglen Crescent / Cardell Avenue.

Negotiations to connect the two halves of the trail have been ongoing for a long time.

It has been shown that people who bike regularly are healthier and happier than those who don’t. The ones who don’t get hit by a car that is. Many cities around the world have found that by creating separate bike lanes, accidents fall off dramatically while cyclist numbers rise. Health care costs decrease too when large numbers cycle and the population becomes healthier. Plus we’re not talking about cities with nice climates either. Scandinavia can have some pretty foul winter weather yet cycling is used by a majority to get to work in Copenhagen. In fact, 63% of Danish MPs commute on a bicycle.

Stockholm has an extensive network of separated bike paths running through the city.
The author impressed by the support for cyclists in other countries – this is also in Stockholm.

Councillors from the suburbs who live in their own version of the 1950s often put forth bogus arguments when blocking pro-bicycle council motions: Cyclists blow through stop signs, they don’t pay for the roads etc. There’s a nice rebuttal to that nonsense here.

Read here to learn what other cold climate countries are doing to encourage cycling through the use of bicycle highways.

Bottom line; if we want to be the ‘Home of the Bicycle’, let’s do something meaningful. Mount Dennis is opting to be a ‘net zero’ community and has made great strides towards that goal. Weston really could be the home of the bicycle.

If the political will isn’t there, nothing will happen. If people don’t tell politicians what’s important to them, nothing will change. Few people are brave enough to risk life and limb cycling alongside cars. Build separated bike lanes and people will use them. Not only that, cyclists spend deceptively more money.

Let’s make Weston the ‘Home of the Bicycle’ through purposeful actions; not through the use of a now meaningless name.

Note: an earlier version showed an out-of-date map. Thanks to Simon Chamberlain for the heads up.