Large crowd at WPBC development meeting.

The consolidated property. Adapted from Google Maps. Click to enlarge.

About two hundred people attended a veritable love-fest at Weston Park Baptist Church on Monday evening. The long anticipated meeting was arranged to get some feedback on the development of the iconic property that includes the old Scotiabank ‘wedge’ building, the church itself and its substantial parking lot next to the UP Express station.

Steve Rowley leads the meeting on behalf of the church. Click to enlarge.

The meeting started with a history of WPBC and its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century. WPBC stresses that it has chosen to stay in Weston during all these years and has helped the community during that time by setting up community support organizations such as the W.A.E.S. food bank and Frontlines youth centre to name but two. Watching the presentation of the church’s history gave me an impression of some compassionate yet canny real-estate horse traders with the long game in mind. To that end they did a considerable amount of homework before deciding on the developer, Castlepoint Numa – represented at the meeting by President Alfredo Romano and several staff from the company. Mr. Romano’s passion for the project came through loud and clear and it was apparent that this will be something special.

 

Some interesting information came to light during the presentation; in 2005, the church pitched purchasing and sharing the current UP Express station site (at the time a Chrysler dealership that was up for sale) to GO Transit, the predecessor of Metrolinx. GO turned them down but before a deal could be made with Chrysler, GO came back to the table and partnered with WPBC leading to the current property setup. Plans have been worked on for some time to develop the site and now the church is asking the community for input.

The point of the meeting was threefold: to introduce the community to the church and developer Castlepoint Numa (with whom they recently signed a memorandum of agreement) and lastly to get some ideas from local residents.

A few ideas were also proposed by the church, one of which was to extend an invitation to the YMCA to operate out of the new development. This has been an idea for many years now.

Some of the ideas for Weston from the charette held in 2011. File. Click to enlarge.
File. Click to enlarge.
File. Click to enlarge.

Developer Romano expressed his wish that there be a retention in some form of the two iconic buildings on the site.

Residents at the meeting were asked to ‘vote’ for their preferred options using supplied red dots.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The church has promised many more consultations before anything is decided.

What do we want?

Last week, I made a case that we should have a commercial relationship with all the new builders in Weston. They want to break the planning guidelines. I think they should pay to do so.

I also asked how you thought the (as-yet-imaginary) money should be spent. 59 people responded. Thank you! Here are the results. (They don’t add up to 59 because people could vote for more than one option.)

Many people noted that the new-new Farmers’ Market isn’t looking good and asked for a new-new-new one. That wasn’t the most popular option though: the most people voted for a YMCA-style space. I too think that would be just fantastic. Tied for third were a recreation space for young people and a scholarship fund. Damned fine ideas, if I do say so myself.

Peering into the data, I think we could safely say that a YMCA-style space would be just super, because it could provide all of the top options, as well as a few of the less popular ones:

  • Programming for youth
  • A stuff-bank for tools, food, clothing, and computers
  • Another, closer, and perhaps less popular gym
  • Perhaps even a community daycare, which we have been missing for six years

 

 

There’s no Y in YSW

Sometimes no news is bad news. The non-news event of non-insignificance  was the passing-over of York South–Weston by the YMCA. Last week The Y announced five new locations, but none near here.

Much was made in the Toronto Star of the organization’s ability to transform neighbourhoods; one of the Y’s staff said, “We’re definitely thinking about the determinants of social health — such as targeting poverty and increasing social inclusion, but it’s really about bringing change to the whole community”

Alas, though we could certainly do with less poverty and more inclusion, the nearest Y will be built at Kipling and Bloor. In response to an email, Frances Nunziata’s staff said, “the Councillor continues to work with the YMCA to see that they establish a location within in the Ward.  This would be a great opportunity for the community.”

Thanks to Connie for the tip.

From “Infographic: Bold New Five”, The Toronto Star.