UrbanArts is having a busy week. On Thursday, from 2–5 pm, they will be unveiling their newest mural; it’s at the corner of Weston and Lawrence. On Friday, they will be starting CultureShock, a two-day festival of art, dance and music.
The mural is part of an annual project that puts young people from the community to work to abate graffiti in Weston and Mt Dennis. They paint an average of two murals a year, and have done so since 1999. This year, they celebrate Weston as the “Home of the Bicycle”. A second piece will soon be installed in Mount Dennis.
On Friday and Saturday, UrbanArts will host the annual CultureShock Festival at Weston Collegiate.
Wes “Maestro” Williams (formerly Maestro Fresh Wes) will be headlining. Cabbie Richards, from TSN, and Canadian hip-hop pioneer Michie Mee will be MCing.
The festival starts Friday at 6, and resumes on Saturday at 1 pm.
The Toronto Police TAVIS initiative, which is intended to reduce violent crime in Toronto and Weston, has netted a few crooks over the summer. In the somewhat-difficult-to-find newsletters, the police list six arrests clearly within Weston, most of them for fairly minor offenses. Other arrests were made, but it is not always possible to tell where.
A male was observed near 2007 Lawrence Avenue West, near an industrial store area. The suspect was seated beside an open garage door smoking a marihuana joint. An investigation was commenced and the male discovered to be on two bails and was breaching conditions. The male, a 32-year old, was subsequently arrested and charged.
A 19-year old male was investigated for a Highway Traffic Act offence near 1901 Weston Road. While speaking with police, the suspect’s cell phone was in his pocket and was audible to the officers. It was found through investigation the suspect was on probation and one of his conditions was not to possess a cell phone. The suspect was placed under arrest.
A 16-year old male was investigated for trespassing on CN Rail property. Further investigation by police revealed the suspect was on probation with conditions not to posses any weapons defined by the criminal code. The suspect readily admitted he was in possession of a pocket knife. He was subsequently arrested and charged with failing to comply with the terms of his youth probation and carrying a prohibited weapon.
A male was observed by officers passed out near Weston Road and Wright Avenue. Investigation revealed that the 32-year old male was on house arrest and was subsequently placed under arrest. Further investigation revealed that he had just been involved in a violent domestic assault. The suspect threw his common-law wife into the bathtub where she struck her head and lost consciousness. When she regained consciousness he held a kitchen knife to her throat and threatened her life.
A 34-year old male was investigated by [TAVIS] officers in a laneway south of Queens Drive. During the course of their investigation, the suspect verbally identified himself by 4 different names, with varying dates of birth. As a result the suspect was placed under arrest for Obstruct Peace Officer. Once the his true identity was revealed, the officers discovered that he was on a recognizance for a Sexual Interference charge and was in violation of his curfew.
Officers observed a male selling goods from the trunk of his vehicle in the Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue area. The officers investigated this male and found that he was in possession of suspected counterfeit clothing. This clothing included jeans, t-shirts, handbags, purses and accessories from several high end clothing manufacturers; Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry and Diesel to name a few. The suspected counterfeit clothing was seized from the male and brought to 12 Division for further investigation. An estimated retail value of all of the property seized: $80,000.
Last Sunday, July 24, 31 Division officers patrolling at Weston and Church apprehended a young man who allegedly in addition to a quantity of marijuana, had a stolen .32 Smith and Wesson handgun in his possession. Judging by the nature of the charges against him, this young man is probably not a first-time offender. The police report did not mention if the officers were part of the TAVIS program or on regular patrol.
In an exclusive interview, she clarified her comments about Chaminade College students and says her original words were the result of a ‘miscommunication’. She also acknowledged that the muggings at Weston and Lawrence were very unlikely to have originated from students at that school.
We discussed other matters such as why she will oppose future license applications for bars in Weston. Councillor Nunziata says she has no problem with applications being approved as long as there are conditions attached to ensure good behaviour; e.g. adherence to licensed hours and noise suppression. After a year these conditions would be lifted. She claims that there are too many licensed establishments along Weston Road and Jane Street already, and that some legitimately licensed establishments operate after hours too . She’s ‘had many complaints from residents.’ I asked if any licence applications ever come from deserving businesses and was told that as long as they agree to the conditions and have not caused problems in the past, they will not be refused a licence.
We returned to the topic of crime and the TAVIS initiative. I mentioned my pet peeve which is that while the TAVIS program has great potential and is a great asset to the community, officers tend to hang around in groups of three or more (let’s not call them gangs) and could cover more ground and have more contact with the community in smaller groups. Ms Nunziata replied that the grouping format was agreed to in the TAVIS meetings, as was the location of the surveillance cameras (which, perhaps, could have produced better results along Lawrence Avenue, since much of the crime seems to occur there).
Thanks to our readers for such a vigorous response.
As WestonWeb has mentioned in previous articles, Frances Nunziata is our vocal and dynamic councillor. She has been involved politically for decades and overall her contribution has been outstanding. Years of opposition made her an outspoken maverick ready to fight for her constituents.
One of the problems apparent in the Weston community is the illegal use of premises to hold large parties to which admission is charged. Parties go long into the night and attract some dangerous individuals. These unlicensed premises are a threat to safety and because their whereabouts are unknown, often in basements and side-alleys, they are hard to detect and shut down. When establishments are licensed, police officers and inspectors can enforce operating hours, room capacities and reasonable levels of noise.
Femi’s Place, an existing restaurant at 1812 Weston Road has applied for a licence to serve alcohol. For some reason, Ms. Nunziata recently steered through this emergency council decision to block the application. In her motion, Ms Nunziata claims that ‘Residents of Weston Village, within which this establishment is located, are already troubled by the number of licenced establishments in the area which frequently violate the conditions of their liquor licences but still remain in operation.’
As a result of complaints she sent inspectors to visit the restaurant, but they found that the restaurant was serving alcohol legally and without problems (the restaurant had applied for and obtained special permits). There was no evidence of wrongdoing other than hearsay.
There are few licensed establishments in the immediate area south of Lawrence. There is one nearby at 1828 Weston, Michelle’s Place, whose owner claims that they have never had problems.
In Ms. Nunziata’s zeal to clean up Weston, she may have forgotten that a nuanced approach is best rather than ‘Kitty bar the door’. Successful businesses and neighbourhoods have to start somewhere. Legal businesses pay taxes, enrich the local community and are subject to inspection and control.
The statement by Ms Nunziata that there are Weston establishments frequently in violation of their licenses implies that we are being failed by the inspection and enforcement process. Perhaps this is where she should focus rather than victimizing fledgling businesses.
This afternoon, Canada’s Governor General, David Johnston flew in from Ottawa to lend support to the Habitat for Humanity project at 1500 Weston Road. The complex of 20 energy efficient townhouses will provide safe, decent and affordable homes for 96 people currently living in sub-standard housing in Toronto.
The Governor General’s support came in the form of adding his presence to the Habitat For Humanity project thus providing moral support but he is no slouch when it comes to hammering a nail and laying down flooring. He worked on the second floor of a home that will be completed this spring.
The townhome complex is being built almost entirely by volunteers from the community as well as the eventual homeowners.
After putting in his work shift, his excellency moved to a marquee where he chatted informally with volunteers and community partners. Later, he spoke about the contribution that Habitat For Humanity has made in many countries around the world and the dedication of volunteers who lend their muscle and expertise. Habitat For Humanity is an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing safe and decent housing at a reasonable cost.
The first residents will be moving in on Saturday and others will be moving in as the units are completed. A resident who will be among the first to move in described her excitement and feeling of accomplishment and thankfulness at being able to move into a home of her own. The head of Habitat in Canada, Stewart Hardacre said that in his experience children raised in Habitat homes consistently graduate from university.