Act fast to send feedback on large proposal at Weston and Little

If you would like to provide feedback about the large buildings proposed at Weston and Little, a reader has sent along the following information—but you need to act fast. The deadline is noon tomorrow.

You can send written comments by email to the Etobicoke York Community Council at [email protected]   If you want to address the committee meeting on Monday, you can register to speak at the same email address.

You can also call 416-394-8101.

The details of the file are as follows

The developer is Weston Asset Management Inc, and they are asking to “To Amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law” with application number 19 219985 WET 05 OZ.

In short, they are asking to build two large, tall buildings at 1956-1986 Weston Road and 1, 3, 3a and 5 Little Avenue.

You can also, I’m sure, include Councillor Frances Nunziata on your email. Her address is [email protected]

City staff approve of large development at Weston and Little

City staff have recommended approval of the large development at 1956-1986 Weston Road and 1-5 Little Avenue. The development will be considered by Etobicoke York Community Council on June 27.

If approved, one of the buildings will have 35 storeys—up from 29 storeys in the 2019 plan—and be the tallest in Weston. The other will have 29 storeys. Together they will have 733 condominium units, up from 592 three years ago.

In the past, the development was opposed by staff, the Weston Village Residents’ Association, and community members, who said, among other things, it was too tall, too dense, too ugly, too close to the property line, and would cast too long a shadow.

Some of those concerns have been addressed. The buildings, while taller, take up less of the property. One of the buildings has been “reconfigured from the original proposal and pulled further back on the site, and angled away from Weston Road. This was to provide a stronger pedestrian perception area”.

Also, the developers have agreed to build a 3,400 square foot “non-profit community cultural space located on the ground floor of the existing heritage building at 3 & 5 Little Avenue” for the city.

However, issues remain. The 2019 staff report said the buildings “would result in a bulky, overwhelming presence which would not fit in with the surrounding area nor provide adequate transition in height to the surrounding properties”. The developers made some design concessions, but the buildings still seem overwhelming to me.

Staff also said “[we] suggest that the northwest portion of the site be re-designed to be a mid-rise building”. That, clearly, hasn’t happened. The shorter tower remains 29 storeys high.

Staff had concerns about shadows, particularly “regarding the shadow impacts on Little Avenue Memorial Park”. The new report doesn’t address the effects on the park—which presumably remain—but says shadows will fall on Weston Common (erroneously called the Weston Hub) at least some of the year for part of the day.

Other reasoning in the report is odd. For instance, the author says “although Tower A has a larger floorplate than typically recommended, it is in keeping with the existing built form context and is complemented by Tower B having a varied and generally smaller tapered floorplate.”

Even if a large tall tower were complemented by a smaller tall tower—which, honestly, I don’t get—there is a large, 12-storey podium joining the two towers, and the tower floorplate is invisible at ground level. Nobody will see the putative complement except from the air.

The development is also scheduled to be considered by City Council on July 19.

Incredible number of things going on at UrbanArts

I’d love to write about all the amazing things that UrbanArts is doing, but I don’t have enough pixels—plus they’ve already done it themselves. Their newsletter is worth the read.

A few highlights:

  • They’ve reopened physically!
  • They’ve launched No Vacancy, “an initiative designed to re-energize vacant and active storefronts with art”
  • Weston Road Flows will bring Nuit Blanche to Weston
  • They are hiring students and full-time staff
  • And they have a seniors’ program, a zine-making program, a summer camp, and Beats.Mind.Movement

It goes on!

Summer camps registering now

Shakespeare in Action and UrbanArts will be running summer camps.

UrbanArts’ camp is called SummerArts, and the info is below:


SIA will have “two different camps in July as well as an additional August session for ages 10-14 that will take place at Assembly Hall (located in South Etobicoke).”

The first is our Groundlings Camp for ages 7-10. This year the Groundlings will be taking on Romeo & Juliet. As in previous years, we will be guiding them through the process of building a whole play from scratch, including costumes, props and sets. Of course, the Groundlings will be working with professional actors the entire time to develop their performances.

In our Nobles Camp (ages 11-14), we will be tackling the classic tale of Julius Caesar. Participants will get an opportunity to be challenged by SIA’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s iconic drama! From prop, set and costume design to scene and movement work  campers will take a hands-on approach – all culminating in a fun and exciting performance for family and friends at Artscape Weston Common in North West Toronto.  

We are also excited to have added on a THIRD session of camp magic this summer for Campers aged 10-14! This will run August 2nd-12th at Assembly Hall in South Etobicoke. In this fun and collaborative drama camp your child will be immersed in the exciting world of theatre making. This session of campers will explore and perform our very own adaptation of Shakespeare’s great romantic drama, Romeo and Juliet!

All our programs will be done outdoors, with indoor spaces remaining a backup in case of inclement weather. Further policies for COVID-19, including our refund policy, can be found on our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.ca/cc/summer-camps-2022-286989

We are happy to be offering SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES for each camp session! Please be sure to email us at [email protected] to learn more! 

Ring Christmas bells on Christmas Eve.

People around the world are planning on ringing bells on their balconies and doorsteps at 6 pm Christmas Eve.

The ‘Worldwide Christmas Eve Jingle’ was started in North Yorkshire, England by a woman who thought the world could use a bit of joy this year. She said it’s for kids, so they can look back on 2020 with some fondness.

Your correspondent may have to download a bell app for his phone to make this happen—but perhaps a reader might, ahem, pull some strings at a local church? I have to plead complete ignorance: do churches ring bells any more? Are they allowed to do it just for fun?

TD in Weston is closing, moving to Crossroads

I was recently amazed when I visited a bank teller to take out cash. There were—forgive me here—little old ladies with passbooks in clear vinyl envelopes asking the tellers in salty, sunny, Mediterranean languages about their balances.

I hadn’t seen a passbook in three decades, and I was amazed that people still use them. I was amazed the bank still prints them. And, if I’m honest, I was also infuriated: my god, the line was slow. Do you people not know about apps?

But my fury at the waiting in line will be nothing compared to my anger at not having a lineup at all.

The TD Bank at 1979 Weston Road will close and move to the Crossroads Plaza by this time next year, according to residents. (TD has not yet returned my calls.) This is the latest in a series of closures that are turning downtown Weston into a banking desert: the RBC and TD banks on Jane have closed, as did the Scotiabank at Weston and Lawrence. In two years, we will have gone from six branches (and four banks) to two. Only RBC on and BMO, both on Weston Road, remain.

While the big banks have been moving on, money-lenders and high-fee cheque-cashing businesses have been moving in. There are at least 10 payday loan or cheque-cashing places in Weston. Something is wrong with a community when there are more usurers than ice-cream shops.

I’m not usually the sort of guy who says that the government should meddle in business, but in this case, I think they should. Banks are not meeting their social obligations, and the government has a strong moral reason to regulate minimum levels of service—and the muscle to do so.

Being banked is a critical part of being a citizen; even the government pays by cheque and prefers direct deposit. (You can’t collect Ontario Works, for instance, in cash.) Allowing banks to close forces people into the hands of cheque-cashers, who charge about $3, +3% of the value of the cheque: a whopping $33 on a $1000 payday.

Worse, the people who will pay are those least able to: the poor, less-literate, and less mobile. Being gouged by MoneyMart makes a lot more sense when you’re faced with a 90-minute walk or a $6.50 fare and a snowy hour waiting for buses.

And then there are the knock-on, long-term effects. To open an RESP, get financial advice, or save in a TFSA, you need to have a branch. None of it can be done online. Pulling out banks means pushing people to the financial margins, and that will make our community poorer in the long run. You need to be close to a banker to pull ahead.

Of course some of us—those with cars, $100 cellphone plans, and the wherewithal to direct-deposit our infrequent cheques by photograph—we will all be fine. After all, I didn’t know people still use passbooks because I hadn’t stood in line for years.

But you can’t both curse a bank’s Friday lineup and say we don’t need it.