Nunziata’s War of 1812

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.

 

Electrification Still Has Legs

Up for consideration at City Council today is a motion to find out whether the Air Rail Link between Pearson Airport and Union Station can be electrified in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015. If experts say it can’t be done (Metrolinx says it can’t), the motion calls for alternative transport arrangements for the games rather than beginning with diesel trains and later electrifying the line. This is in spite of the fact that diesel trains have already been purchased. Apparently the plan is to convert them to electric in 2017.

Who is behind this motion? None other than our own Councillor Frances Nunziata and Mayor Ford’s brother Doug. With backing like that, you can be sure the motion will pass handily and that in this election year, the Provincial Liberals will be torn between stonewalling and keeping the Ford boys happy.

You have to hand it to the Clean Train Coalition for keeping this issue alive and getting representatives at all levels actively involved.

Alan Tonks is a Top Dissenter

The Globe and Mail has a story today on MPs and their parliamentary activities. While our Federal MP Alan Tonks is not among the absentee or silent members, he and Mississauga MP Paul Szabo hold the record for voting with the Tories against the Liberal Party mainstream.

As noted previously, he opposed a bill to add ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ to the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code’s hate crimes section. He also voted with the Tories to oppose Gerard Kennedy’s bill amending the refugee act to include conscientious objectors to seek refuge in Canada.

You can get the rest of Mr. Tonks’ voting record here.

It seems that when you vote Liberal, to quote the Rolling Stones, you don’t always get what you want.

Humber River Flood Update

A rainfall warning from Environment Canada has prompted fears that the Humber will flood again today, especially around the Lions Park footbridge where an ice jam is damming the river. Check back to this article for updates and images throughout the day.

8am: the river is rising steadily but below levels reached last week when the Weston access to the bridge was submerged. The ice jam is still in place.

10:30am: a steady rise in the water but no sign of ice movement.

1:00pm: water still rising; ice jam holding.

3:30pm: starting to break up

5:30 Not much to report. Ice is holding in spite of a few false starts.

March 6

The ice moved about 100m past the bridge overnight without incident and water levels are subsiding. It’s amazing (and annoying) how rarely the ice moves during daylight hours. The ice jam now occupies the river at the curve in Raymore Park and continues to flood the land there.

Huge Ice Dam Blocks Humber River, Endangers Footbridge.

Looking upriver from Raymore footbridge.

It begins just south of Lawrence Avenue, a gigantic barrage of ice piling up and blocking the Humber. Water has been forced to go around the ice and flood Lions Park.
The recent thaw has compounded the blocking of the Humber that occurred in January. Large chunks of ice floated downstream as the river rose last week and they have plugged the channel forcing it to flood its banks. This latest pile of ice begins by the Lions Arena and continues south all the way to the dam and fish ladder in Raymore Park.

Looking downriver

Halfway between the two lies the footbridge connecting Weston to Etobicoke. Normally, the abutments of the old bridge destroyed in the Hurricane Hazel disaster are visible; now they are buried without trace under tonnes of ice. On Saturday, ice was brushing the underside of the bridge and today, the bridge foundations are underwater and in danger of being washed away.

This comparison gives an idea of the depth of the ice blocking the river:

Looking downriver from Lions Park

Here is the almost same view in summer:

Summer view looking downriver.

Looking upriver; notice the normal clearance of the bridge and one of the now buried abutments.

Is the bridge in danger? My guess is that if there is another thaw soon, there will be added pressure on the foundations, not from ice but from water undermining them.

Unfortunately, Thursday’s forecast is for periods of rain and a high of 6°C.

Sow and Ye Shall Reap

The latest in a string of shootings is no surprise to most people in Weston. It is however a source of mild puzzlement to police and politicians. They simply don’t understand why Weston is seemingly plagued by such events. Let’s look at the facts of the situation we find ourselves in.

An exquisite combination of political bungling, poor planning and corruption permitted the building of large numbers of low income housing several decades ago. This low income housing became a magnet for immigrants seeking a new life in Canada. The village of Weston as part of the City of York was given a major challenge; how to assimilate large numbers of new Canadians and help them to become productive citizens. Unfortunately, Weston has been largely left on its own to achieve this while dealing with problems that have arisen.

The Federal Government is in charge of immigration and knows exactly the stresses placed on Weston by immigration. We need more resources, not fewer and Alan Tonks should be shouting this from the rooftops every day, instead of being satisfied with the occasional photo op and voting with his Tory friends. Lord knows, Alan Tonks is well paid for his work and will receive a pension better than most would dream of as a salary. Is he worth the money? Not in my books. One of his latest efforts is a poorly-written private member’s bill supporting electrification of urban commuter rail operations. Dear old Alan couldn’t even be bothered to check for grammatical errors in the bill! Private members’ bills rarely become law.

The surest way to help first-generation children of immigrants is through education. Schools need extra resources and the very best teachers. Perhaps Alan Tonks’ son Chris could help here. He is our public school trustee.

Laura Albanese is a Liberal MPP in the McGuinty government. As an immigrant herself she should know that Weston needs more resources. She has been an MPP since October of 2007 and seems to have achieved little in that time. Her activity in the provincial legislature comprises mainly of softball questions to Liberal ministers. She has submitted a private member’s bill in favour of electrifying the GO Train system with priority for the Georgetown corridor.

Frances Nunziata has in the past been a fighter for Weston and was instrumental in exposing corruption in the City of York. She has spearheaded some important initiatives such as moving Metrolinx towards serving the people of Weston rather than not stopping in the community. Now, she seems to be lost in the details rather than the bigger picture. Where are we in the planning of a community centre for the area? Is Weston getting value for money from its police services?

Police seem to regard Weston as a dangerous place. When a major crime has been committed we see lots of police. Between crimes we see nothing. When was the last time any of us saw a police officer on foot patrol? According to a recent John Sewell article on police in Toronto, the average police officer averages one dispatched call every 20 hours of duty. Driving around waiting for problems to happen might not be the best approach any more.

The TAVIS initiative supposedly assigns extra police officers to areas ‘experiencing an increase in violent activity’. I wonder if Weston sees any of these officers.

This latest attempted murder seems to have happened at a party or an after-hours club. These are notoriously hard to keep track of as they spring up spontaneously. That said, Weston Road is a fairly obvious place for patrols – would a large number of cars parked in an area at 4 a.m. be worth investigating? Admittedly, that would require courage and initiative but isn’t that what we pay our officers for?

Last for censure is the criminal element in Weston which seems to feel the need to carry weapons and use them when their delicate egos are threatened by an accidental brush or an ill-timed comment. Real men don’t carry guns, they find work and lose the fantasy that they are part of a gang. Real men try to better themselves in the face of adversity—they don’t choose to be a plague on society.

Politicians, What Have You Done For Weston Lately?

Weston has had a raw deal in the past few decades. Our ‘village’ has lost nearly all of its industry, historic properties have been demolished to make way for unattractive developments, and the area has become depressed. The once attractive main street has been infiltrated by payday loan/cheque cashing companies, dollar stores, and other detritus of hard times.

Weston gets no respect. The airport link as originally proposed was never intended to stop in Weston. When the TTC wants to save money, Weston services are cut. When Metrolinx needed to expropriate properties as part of the airport link, the way they dealt with homeowners was reprehensible and high handed. Drug related gangs of criminals seem to operate freely without much fear of capture. There is apprehension on the part of many people about being a victim of crime. While there are many beautiful homes in Weston, there is a large amount of ugly low-income housing both public and private.

Throughout all of this process, federal, provincial and municipal politicians have collected their generous salaries and tut-tutted about the sad state of affairs: “What a shame and we’re doing all we can; by the way, don’t forget to re-elect me as I’m really concerned about unemployment—mine.”

With one election under our belts and two more on the way, perhaps it’s time that the citizens of Weston asked our politicians: what have you done for Weston lately? Sitting on committees and attending conferences in glamorous places doesn’t count. What really counts are results bringing prosperity and hope back to Weston and eliminating the conditions that encourage crime, namely unemployment and lack of opportunity.

Here are some of the things that Weston could benefit from:

  • Improved education and workforce training
  • Decent housing
  • Help for struggling retailers and small businesses
  • Doing something about empty commercial properties
  • Police on the ground, not in cars
  • Politicians actively working on our behalf.
  • Encouragement and support for local initiatives such as the Farmers’ Market
  • Community facilities such as an indoor pool
  • Better communication by politicians about what they are doing for the community

There is no desire to malign individual politicians by lumping them together as a group. Perhaps everyone is doing the best they can. It would certainly be appreciated if our individual representatives would take the time to outline plans for Weston to their employers, the people.

You may wish to contact them individually, here are their contact details:

Federal MP Alan Tonks,
2534 Keele St
Toronto ON  M6L 2N8
Phone: (416) 656-2526
Fax: (416) 656-9908
Email: [email protected]

Provincial MPP Laura Albanese
Unit 102
2301 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M6M 3Z9
Tel: (416) 243-7984
Fax: (416) 243-0327
Email: [email protected]

Councillor Frances Nunziata
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West, Suite C49
Toronto, ON  M5H 2N2
Phone: (416) 392-4091
Fax: (416) 392-4118
Email: [email protected]