Weston Road can sometimes be a little slummy… and I mean that in a nice way! Slums are the airport terminals of neighbourhoods: they’re where people start new lives and leave behind old ones. They’re full of promise and drama. And like airport terminals, slums are awful places to live.
So while Weston is no slum, Weston Road can be a little slummy. There are a lot of stores selling second-hand goods and doing ‘informal banking’. There are a lot of discount stores and a lot of services and shops catering to the renters who are new to town or to Canada. And many villagers find Weston Rd unattractive in part because the retail norms are quite different. The storefronts are ugly, the merchandise sometimes unappealing (I ate camel meat for the first time in Weston), and some of the stores spill out onto the street.
But that’s likely to change. At the Community Council meeting last week, Frances Nunziata asked (and got) city planners and licencing officers to investigate how the outdoor display of merchandise can be regulated and limited. The proposal, she says, comes from complaints from “residents, business owners, and visitors”.
One store, which all residents will know even if they’ve never set foot in it, is flagrant. There are clothes and sundries hanging from the sign, walls, and even, I believe, the tree beside on occasion. The trouble is, Nunziata says, the store is in a commercial zone, where, oddly, this is allowed.
So while the property is following the letter of the law, Nunziata and the Community Council have asked city staff to come up with ways to get the unsightly storefronts more inline with community norms.
Your humble correspondent confesses to feeling a little conflicted, as he did when council undertook a similar program against the cheque cashing establishments in town last year. The businesses in question are not breaking any laws; they’re just distasteful to some members of the community (your correspondent among them).
Bringing the weight of city staff down on legal and unthreatening (if unpopular) establishments seems a little meddlesome.