Tuesday, December 30, 2008


For many people 2008 will go down as one of the most stressful in recent memory, and 2009 is promising more of the same.

Despite the major retail development going on in West Hill, it has been a tough year for many. The weather patterns in West Hill have been more dramatic than any in recent decades. We've lost two of our three new car dealers and the Newspapers are not filled with encouraging economic predictions for the near future.

Coping with it all can be a major challenge, but there is hope. There is a pathway that is well tested over time for managing the unavoidable stresses of life. Or so Zen Buddhism would have us believe.

The Zen Habits website assures us there is no need to renounce the world or become a monk in order to benefit from what they have learned.

According to the Zen Habits website ( http://www.zenhabits.net/2008/03/12-essential-rules-to-live-more-like-a-zen-monk/ ) there are twelve habits monks have practiced for millennia that can reduce our daily stress no matter what the future hold for us in 2009.

Here are their suggestions.

1. Do one thing at a time.
2. Do it slowly and deliberately.
3. Do it completely.
4. Do less.
5. Put space between things
6. Develop rituals .
7. Designate time for certain things.
8. Devote time to sitting.
9. Smile and serve others.
10. Make cleaning and cooking become meditation.
11. Think about what is necessary.
12. Live simply.

How you practice these in our internet world, filled with all the demands of multi-tasking, I'm not entirely sure. But maybe it gives some hope and some guidelines for a less stressful future.

However, you decided to tackle 2009, here's wishing You A Happy And More Peaceful New Year!

santa buddha Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BMO Official Opening In West Hill

To the sounds of Jingle Bell Rock, the huge Red Ribbon was cut, officially opening BMO Financial Services' newest branch office at Kingston Road and Lawrence Ave in West Hill.

City Councilor Paul Ainsley, Provincial MPP Margaret Best and Federal MP John MacKay joined BMO Officials and members of the public at the lavish opening of the new branch.

The cold evening did nothing to dampen the warmth of the reception inside. The large crowd enjoyed BMO the Bear, balloon artists, face painters for the children, great food and prizes.

And the BMO Staff Charitable Foundation generously presented the West Hill Food Bank with a cheque for $500.

West Hill is rapidly becoming the banking centre of South East Scarborough with BMO and new branches of CIBC and TD Bank joining the already established Scotia and Royal Banks in the area.

The crowd at the BMO opening enjoyed a generous buffet along with other events.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting The Best Deal On A New Vehicle

By Howard S. Buchin
West Hill Consumer Advocate

You’ve decided your old car is ‘toast,’ & you’re considering investing in a brand new vehicle. How do you go about getting the best deal from a car dealership? Here are some vital points to consider when working out a deal with your dealer.

First off you’ll need to crunch the numbers and decide upon how much you can spend without blowing your budget. Shop around for a loan [if you need one] through your bank or other financial institution.

Shop at a minimum of three dealerships before signing, so you can compare their prices on exact models [including extras] you wish to buy. Investigate the various engine sizes your model is available in. Compare the difference in price a larger engine might cost. Compare the fuel efficiency for each.

Test drive models with the exact features and equipment that you wish to buy.
Get a written quote that’s good for at least one week, or long enough that you can take it home and read it over, not just for the day you attend the dealership.

Keep your trade-in and financing charges out of the price negotiations for a new-car. It’s best to first settle on the new-car price and then get a written trade-in value for your ‘old beater’. You can always sell your old car for more if you sell it yourself. Remember you may not wish to deal with the hassles of selling your used vehicle.

Focus on the bottom line, including any freight - delivery charges, taxes, extended warranties, fuel and registration fees. This is your final true cost and the dollar amount that you’ll need to use to compare, so that you can decide which dealer is giving you the best price.

Some of the things to you might want to avoid when buying a new car: It’s not a good idea to just add 3% on to the invoice price and bargain from there. Currently buyers have the advantage due to the state of the economy, & the dealer’s needing to clear out current stock to get ready for the 2009 models.

Avoid telling your salesperson the amount that you are looking to spend. This might result in you not getting your lowest rate. Don’t put down a deposit in order to get a quote of go for a test drive. Don’t shop for a monthly payment.

Don’t waste time haggling with the salesperson about all the various features and extras on your vehicle. The dealer’s salesperson have much more time for this than you do. Dealer’s rake in large amount of profit from extended warranties, and rust protection. Make sure the salesperson provides you with the written extended warranty so you can decide if you feel you need it. Rust protection is usually less expensive at the local shop that specializes in rust protection.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New LCBO Opens In West Hill

The Greenest LCBO in Ontario opened its doors in West Hill on Wednesday December 3rd to the popping sound of bottles of Ontario Sparkling Wine being opened. Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO)President and CEO Bob Peter joined City Councilor Ron Moeser at the official opening in the new Morningside Crossing location.

The 11,000 square foot store, incorporates many energy conservation features and recycled materials in its construction earning it a LEED certification.

The store has a shopping area of almost 7,800 square feet – almost triple that of the store at 4543 Kingston Road which it replaces -- construction of this new store provided the equivalent of 14 new jobs.

Offering almost 1,800 products, 200 more than the former store, it features a large VINTAGES section with some 570 fine wine and premium spirits, compared to 20 at the previous location. The new store also has a large chilled section for beer and ready-to-drink cocktails and coolers

The store reflects LCBO’s latest layout and design, combining contemporary d├ęcor with innovative and informative product displays.

The new store also provides:

 an extensive selection of Ontario wines
 large chilled sections for beer and ready-to-drink cocktails and coolers
 a tasting counter
 gift section
 six checkouts, including a customer service counter offering product information and special order services
 good accessibility, visibility and parking

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wind Farm Controvercy Continues

City Councillor Paul Ainslie has has called for another public meeting on a controversial wind turbine project, after environmental activists jammed the meeting at Sir Wilfred Laurier CI, Monday Night preventing local residents from getting to the microphones to ask the questions that concerned them.

Councillor Ainslie himself was forced to wait over two hours to ask a question.

Over 1000 people turned up for the Community meeting to discuss the proposed installation of a refrigerator sized wind anemometer two kilometers off the Scarborough Bluffs, the first step in the proposed installation of a massive wind farm.

The meeting was Toronto Hydro's second attempt to hold a public consultation after an earlier event in at Christ Church hall left hundreds stranded outside unable to get in.

Environmentalists, students and union members bussed in supporters who drowned out local residents and took control of the microphones until late in the meeting.

The event attracted media attention from across the country.

If the project gets approval it will see a wind farm constructed over a 26-kilometre area the length of the bluffs, 2 to 4 kilometres offshore.

Some residents complained the project would spoil the natural beauty of the area, harm fish and bird populations and lower property values.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Juried Art Show Opens At Framing Dames Gallery

The smokers stood outside in the heavy drizzle, seeking what little shelter they could find. Indian Summer had come to an end and in its place, the cold rains of late Fall had drenched the earth. Cigarettes in hand, the women looked determined, but they didn't look happy.

The parking next to the Framing Dames Gallery on Manse Road in Highland Creek was full and we were forced to park the car at St. Joseph's church across the road and run through the puddles to the Gallery entrance. As we passed by them, the two smokers gave us looks of envy as we left the rain behind.

Opening night of the juried art show and the Gallery was full. Tables had been set with food and the conversation was flowing.

Many of the paintings have been done by professionals. A picture of a trout about to swallow a lure, had been done by a local artist whose illustrations often appear in Field and Stream.

Many of the artworks were photographs, some of stunning originality. The theme of the show was "motion" and a shot of a hummingbird caught in mid flight, caught my attention.

The variety of art on display, along with its quality, help make the show a unique experience and a feast for the senses.

We mingled with the crowd, many of whom seemed to know each other, listening to their conversations:

"Oh you entered a painting too, where is it?"

"Oh I had a couple of frames left over so I just grabbed a couple of things I'd done earlier, framed them, and brought them in to the show."

"Yes it's joy to look at. I can't believe how well he caught their mood. And the colours...."

At 7:30 the judge was introduced and the winners announced to loud applause.
Then it was back out into the rain and the night, the bright lights and colourful images left behind in the gallery.

Perhaps for you to visit later this week?

Friday, October 31, 2008

West Hill Warriors Logo Controversy

A move to replace the West Hill Warrior name and logo has sparked a controversy that has spilled over into the pages of Canada's major Newspapers, radio and Television stations.

Following concerns raised by teachers at the school that the logo and name do not meet TDSB's non discrimination policy, school Trustee Nadia Bello has proposed a review of the team identifiers at West Hill C.I.

This has sparked a protest on the social networking site Facebook.

On the site, Tom Chatsworth, the group's creator defends the groups purpose this way:

"For over 50 years, West Hill C.I. has not only shaped the minds of its students, but has also instilled in them, in us, a strong work ethic, and a sense of pride. Pride for our community, pride for who we are and pride for where we came from … and that's we call Warriors Pride!

"We are, and always will be, West Hill Warriors!

"This is our school. This is your school. … and we are, the West Hill Warriors!

"Our new school Trustee, Nadia Bello, and a small number of politically correct activists, have taken it upon themselves to attack what is our history, your history; and our traditions, your traditions."

Not all of the over 900 members agree.

As Nafees Haider writes...

"I don't think a lot of people understand why Natives want to distance themselves from the term "Warrior". Native's were NOT warriors or fighters, they were very peaceful.

"Cowboy movies during the 20th century portrayed these people as living in tipis, wearing war bonnets or feathers in their hair, riding horses, brandishing war lances, and more. As a result of this, the common assumption is that all Native people were like those portrayed in films.

"The image of the Native Warrior was used as means of propaganda, the Native Warrior was usually shown as a fierce and formidable threat to civilized society, usually depicted bare-chested and brandishing a war lance or some primal weapon. Long before the First Nations Act, the Native "warrior" was not promoted as:

"a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics"

"They were seen as the epitome of the savagery that had to be courageously overcome by "progressive elements" of the West.

"Need a modern day comparison? If your still not sure why it's a big deal for them to dissassociate themselves from the "warrior" image? It's like saying all Muslims or anyone of middle eastern or Indian decent are terrorists. The Native Warrior is simply a bad STEREOTYPE. Just like the old Picaninny and black face caricatures and cartoons back in the 30's and 40's.

"The logo needs to go. The name should stay. That's just my two cents."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Movie Memorabilia on Display

With a lifetime spent in the movie business, West Hill resident Bill Harman has seen it all. He has worked on over 250 movies from Cleopatra to Star Wars, from the Countess Of Hong Kong to X men, from Carry On Nurse to Superman.

He's worked with Christopher Reeve, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Sellers, Sean Connery and hundreds of other stars. He's been kissed by Marilyn Monroe.

He shared a studio for many years with Terry Gilliam who did the animation for the Monty Python shows.

He built the murderous rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

And now he has put together the memorabilia from his years in the movie business and has it on display at the Framing Dames Gallery 211 Morrish Rd in Highland Creek through October 25th.

Don't miss it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Scarborough-Guildwood Candidates 2008

The following video offers a brief glimpse at the candidates running for office in the 2008 Federal Election, to be held on October 14, as they discuss the backgrounds that helped prepare them for office.

The video was filmed at the Coronation Community Association of West Hill's All Candidates Night on October 7th.

The Candidates, in order of appearance, are Sania Khan, NDP; Chuck Konkel, Conservative Party; Alonzo Bartley, Green Party; and John McKay, Liberal Party.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Morningside Crossing Grand Opening

September 27, 2008 saw the end of 3 years of uncertainty, demolition and frantic construction on the site of the old Morningside Mall in the heart of West Hill.

Neglected and in severe decline for many years, the Mall was finally purchased by First Capital who announced plans for the complete demolition of the Mall and the construction of a modern shopping centre in its place.

Today the dream of a completely new and modern shopping experience was unveiled. As Dori Segal, President and CEO of First Capitol Reality declared the new Shopping Centre open steel drums were playing, kiddies were enjoying a carnival atmosphere and parents were heading for the new stores.

On hand to welcome the new facility to West Hill, on behalf of the City, were Councillor's Ron Moeser from Ward 44 and Paul Ainslie from nearby Ward 43.

The new Centre meets the stringent LEED environmental standard making it the Greater Toronto Area's first Green Shopping Centre. A milestone commemorated by a plaque unveiled on the site.

90% of the old Mall was reused on the site; the Centre uses 25% less energy and 30% less indoor water consumption. A 500 cubic metre storage tank is buried under the main parking lot to store captured rainwater from the roofs of the buildings to be used for on-site irrigation. Parking lot lighting is all focused down where its needed and not up into the night sky blocking the view of the stars.

But it wasn't the Centre's environmental friendliness, the rides, the free gifts, the food or the band that was exciting the thousands who came out to celebrate this newly reinvigorated centre of the West Hill area, it was the new shopping experience and the beautiful new stores.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

West Hill's Family Fun Day 2008

West Hill's Annual Family Fun Day at Heron Park was a rousing success with well over 1000 people attending.

With not stop concerts, displays by Metro Zoo, bouncing castles, bingo, food, drink free giveaways, face painting and numerous other events it was a feast for the mind and body.

The event was thanks to the tireless work of Toronto Parks Recreation and Forestry, The Manse Valley Community Association, The Coronation Community Association of West Hill and Resident's Rising.

Thanks go out to our numerous participants including Storefront, Toronto Police 43 Division, Toronto Public Library and every one who donated their time or just came out to have Fun.

See you all next year!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adult Day Centre

Nancy North is feeling emotionally conflicted. A young college student is completing her field placement at West Hill’s Adult Day Centre and will soon be leaving. Nancy is proud of the woman for completing her course but saddened to see her go.

“Students bring a wonderful energy with them,” Nancy explains. “The seniors in our program benefit from that and, I believe our students benefit from their interactions with our seniors as well.”

Nancy is the Manager of the West Hill Community Services Adult Day Centre, located in a small plaza at Manse and Kingston Rd. Funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care through the Central East LHIN, along with user fees, the Centre presents safe, recreational and therapeutic programs for adults affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The Centre’s clients range from 50 to 90 years of age.

The Centre provides its programs in a “club-like” setting. Along with lunch and snacks, the Centre involves the seniors in discussions, songs, dance, arts, crafts and a range of social outings. The Centre’s programs and services make available the additional supports necessary for people to age gracefully and with dignity in the comfort of their own homes.

The programs and services are as individual as the clients. For some, the Centre is a place to go one afternoon a week. Others attend every day, either picked up at their homes by the Centre’s van or brought to the centre by family members. The Centre can accommodate up to 20 adults at a time.

“We are especially proud of our new garden,” Nancy explains. With funding from the Junior League of Toronto, the Scarborough Garden and Horticultural society has created a therapeutic garden at the front of the building. With flower, herb and vegetable boxes tall enough for seniors to sit on the rim and help with the planting, the beautiful garden provides the Centre not only with fresh herbs and vegetables, but also involves the seniors in a range of sensory experiences appealing to touch and taste while providing a visual feast for the eyes.

“We just picked our first zucchini of the year,” Nancy tells me with a proud smile.

The Centre also offers Bereavement, Peer and Caregiver Supports along with Education sessions.

For more information about the Centre visit the West Hill Community Services website at www.westhill-cs.on.ca .

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Guild Alive With Culture

In case you missed one of the area's great summer cultural events, Alive With Culture at the Guild Inn, here is a sampling of what you missed.

Picture the grounds of the Guild Inn alive with tents hosting paintings from portraits to abstract, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, clothing, arts and crafts, two stages featuring musicians and story tellers, a farmers market food, drinks and tours of the historic grounds. Over 2000 people strolling by enjoying one of the nicest days of the summer.

Or just watch this brief video--

City Councilor Paul Ainslie, one of the sponsors of the Event, was pleased with the success of the day and has announced plans to expand it to a two day event next year.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Shoppers Drug Mart Opens

The first store in the final phase of the development of Morningside Crossing, Shoppers Drug Mart has now opened.

The large Shoppers is open until midnight every night.

Shoppers was one of the anchor stores in the old Morningside Mall, so this is really coming home for the store chain.

Food Basics next door to Shoppers is nearing completion and has posted a notice alerting local residents to submit job applications.

Morningside Crossing replaces Morningside Mall which was demolished last year to make way for this new development.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Festival Market Returns For Second Year

West Hill's Festival Market has returned to the park at St. Margaret-In-The Pines for a second straight year.

Held every Thursday between 3 and 6 pm, the beautiful garden market features crafts, food, stilt walkers and entertainment.

Crowds flock around the organic vegetables, browse the craft tables, visit with friends or rest under the shade of the many trees. Children dance or play catch while their parents visit the many displays.

This is a unique event in the West Hill area and well worth a visit.

The Market can be found on Lawrence just East of Kingston Rd.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Safety Audit Conducted at East View Park

Over 30 West Hill residents attended the May Executive Meeting
of the Coronation Community Association of West Hill to express
concerns about plans to construct a Splash Pad at Eastview Park.

Residents were worried about increased noise levels, a decrease in
park cleanliness and personal safety issues should the splash pad be
constructed so close to their homes.

In response to their concerns City Councilor Paul Ainslie committed
to the planting of mature trees to cut down on noise levels, increased
vigilance in maintaining Park cleanliness having a safety audit
conducted at the proposed building site.

The Audit was held on Tuesday June 3, 2008 at Eastview Park.
Residents came out to express their safety concerns to Constable Bill
Campbell, Crime Prevention and Adult Program Coordinator Leslie
Chitra and City Parks Department staff. Also present were Coronation
Community Association President Barry Fraser, Vice President Ron
Wooton, membership Chair Bess King and Neighbourhood
Representative Ed King.

The results of the audit are currently being addressed by city staff.

Councilor Ainslie asks if residents with any park safety concerns to
please share them with his office and they will be forwarded to City
staff to address.

The Eastview splash pad is one of two being built in West Hill. The
other one will be in Morningside Park. A splash pad has been
operating behind the Morningside Library at Heron Park for
several years.

Both are being built by the same contractor and are scheduled to
be opened by August 1, 2008. The Councilor feels both should
provide a welcome addition for neighbourhood children, who have
limited pool recreational services in the area.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Port Union Waterfront Trail Opens

They came out in their thousands to celebrate the opening of the latest section of the Trans Canada Trail. Mothers carrying infants in pouches and pushing carriages, fathers dressed for African safaris, skate boarders, dog walkers, police, serious joggers and children everywhere.

This new section stretches from Port Union 5 km along the shores of Lake Ontario to East Points Park in West Hill.

One of the big fire boats from Toronto Harbour sat off shore blowing huge streams of water high in the air, a great ferris wheel lifted excited children above the roof tops, local bands gave back to back concerts, a tipi had been erected on the high point of the park and food was being consumed at a furious rate. A splash pad was filled with screaming children and booths of every kind advertised local activities.

Linda and I walked the Trail to Highland Creek and back. Once we left Port Union Common, the crowds dropped away and we were able to enjoy the beauty of the new waterfront pathway, being passed frequently by dedicated joggers, bikers and the rush of roller bladers.

The Port Union section of Toronto's Waterfront Trail now connect this community with the West Hill Community where I live. It winds its way along the waterfront to Highland Creek and then climbs above the beach at the foot of the Scarborough Bluffs where it connects to the extensive trails running through Col Danforth and Morningside Parks..

The creation of a Trans Canada Trail, of which the Toronto Waterfront Trail system forms a part, was announced as part of Canada's 125th anniversary celebrations in 1992. At 18,078-kilometres (11,233 mi), it is expected to become the longest recreational trail in the world.

It has its counterparts in other greenway routes like the 12 EuroVelo routes and the USA's East Coast Greenway.

To date it has been funded largely by Canadian Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments. However, there have also been corporate donors and individual donors.

Linda and I walk the path beside the waters of Lake Ontario, the ground beside us beginning its slow rise to become the Scarborough Bluffs as a stream of pretty girls on roller blades glide past us, laughing and excited and full of life.

The Trail is now 70% complete

Something very special is being born across this country. And today we are part of its celebration.

Our thanks to City Councilor Ron Moeser and the Port Union Waterfront Committee for a job well done.

Ferris Wheel

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sisters Restaurant Sold

Following the sale of Millie's House to Habitat for Humanity, Millie Travener has confirmed that Sister Restaurant has also been sold.

Sisters Restaurant is facing a huge change but Millie has secured a promise from the new owners that the staff would remain.

Millie's mother purchased the restaurant, then a small truck stop, back in 1956 and named it Millies. When, Millie's sister Maria joined them in the business it was expanded and renamed Sisters.

With the passing of her mother and sister, Millie has been running the restaurant together with her son Jeff for many years.

Sisters legendary Jazz nights brought a taste of the downtown to the suburbs.

Millie is planning to travel, read and run a few more marathons!

She and Sisters will be missed.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Walk Through Deekshill Park

Deekshill Park is one of the more beautiful spots in West Hill, with one of the worst reputations. A woman was raped there two years ago and local residents were reluctant to walk through the quiet forest due to rowdy teens drinking on the bank of the small stream that ran through the woods.

Uncared for, the Park was strewn with refuse including discarded tires, supermarket buggies, lawn chairs, plastic bags and other garbage.

Concerned, the Coronation Community Association of West Hill approached City Councilor Ron Moeser who had a team from Toronto Parks in to clean it up. The CCA also approached Police Superintendent Gottschuck who has increased patrols in the Park area.

The result has been a transformation of this 6 acre jewel back to being one of the most lovely areas of natural woodland in the City.

Have a look at the following video and then take a walk through the park yourself. We need to start to use this area both more frequently and more responsibly or risk loosing it.

Deekshill is located south of Lawrence and east of Morningside off Link Road in West Hill.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Historic Millie's House Sold

Historic Millie's House and Millie's Billiards have been sold to a developer. The deal includes the parking lot behind the House.

Originally purchased by a developer, it us now rumoured to have been quickly resold to Habitat for Humanity.

If so this will make this the fourth Habitat project in our community, The first Habitat development was built beside the new Library on Lawrence. The second was on Kingston Rd in a vacant lot across from Pazac where it is nearing completion. This development was the first brick development by habitat in Toronto. The third was the controversial development that saw one of West Hill's last wild places destroyed, 2000 trees cut down and the earth excavated down to a depth of 3 feet, on Manse Road at Lawrence. Construction is soon slated to begin on this site.

Millie's would be the fourth.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

43 Division 3rd Annual BBQ and Open House

On Saturday May 10th the 43 Division Toronto Police Station held their 3rd annual open house, sponsored by the Community Police Liaison Committee. The day featured a free barbecue, four different bands in concert, an antique fire truck, antique ambulance from the days when the Toronto ambulance service was operated by funeral parlors, face painting, a tour of the new station and many other events.

Other community groups such as the Toronto Zoo, the Coronation Commuity Association of West Hill, Residents Rising Community Association, Manse Valley Community Association and Storefront featured displays. The Chief of Police for the city also attended.

If you missed the day here is a short view of what you missed. If you attended, perhaps the following video will bring back some memories--

Friday, April 25, 2008

Remembering the Alexandria

Alexandria Great Lakes Steamer

It's an unusual day. A fairly strong wind is blowing off the Lake onto the shore lifting large waves that crash into the beach at the foot of the Scarborough Bluffs.

I'm taking my dog to Sylvan Park for her morning run because these conditions are too special to waste. Sylvan is located mid way along the ten kilometer length of the Bluffs at the end of Sylvan Drive deep in the heart of Guildwood Village.

If you don't know the park is there, you'll never find it in the maze of suburban streets. The bluffs are much taller here, close to their 90 meter maximum. And from the top of the bluffs on days when a strong wind blows onto the shore you can still see her in the troughs of the waves.

Her great boiler and some of her decking are all that's left of the Alexandra. And those are usually hidden just below the surface of the Lake.

On Tuesday August 3rd, 1915, the 49 year old Alexandria was bound for Toronto when she ran into a massive storm. Capt. Bloomfield was steaming for the safety of the Toronto harbour hoping that the old wooden side wheeler would hold together long enough to survive. With only 300 tons of cargo aboard, she was riding high in the water and was easy prey for the raging wind and the heavy seas.

Her 50 horsepower was simply not enough to hold her on her course and she was pushed further and further towards the lee shore with each battering wave. Although the light of Toronto's Eastern Gap was in sight, she finally lost her battle and the old ship rammed onto the sands at the base of the Scarborough Bluffs.

Alerted by the forlorne peal of the ship's horn, the top of the bluffs was soon lined with spectators leaning into the savage wind and rain to watch the 173-foot, 863-ton Alexandria's fight to the death. They didn't have long to wait.The crushing seas soon began to dismantle the vessel and her end wasn't long in coming.

The hull began to break up about 8:00 p.m. when about 50 feet of the bow broke off. The terrified crew then took to the boats but the waves were vicious and all twenty-two of her crew were tossed into the churning waters. Clinging to lifelines rigged from the beach, and with the help of those on shore, all the men reached safety by midnight. No sooner had the last man reached shore, than the stern section of the ship tore away from the wreck and broke up.

The following morning winds had died down and the lake quieted. The wreckage lay scattered along the shoreline. I still find pieces of it even today. What was left of the Alexandria had been pushed very close inshore during the night and now she lay facing in a westerly direction and listing over on her port side. The cabin had been badly smashed by the waves and the top section of the funnel had disappeared over the side.

Her cargo of pickles, canned vegetables, potatoes and sugar had been washed away and residents along the shore as far west as Ward's Island stocked their shelves for the winter with supplies from the stricken steamer. Quite a few sheds were also built that year from her planking.

Succeeding storms soon broke up what was left of Alexandria's woodwork and all that remained above water was the walking beam and the upper portion of the boiler, these being quite visible, especially at times of low water. For over twenty years these relics were a feature of the eastern shoreline. For many years the local children used the walking beam as a diving platform.

But in due course, with the high water and the erosion of the shoreline, the last visible remains of Alexandria disappeared from sight and local residents were left with their memories of the stormy night that "Alex" came ashore. And a few jars of pickles.

It is only on days like today that she still comes alive again, fleetingly glimpsed between the waves. The ghost of another time and another era.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Natural Garden Care

by Katie

Spring has arrived, the snow is gone and the flowers have started to poke their heads through the earth so now is the time to start to think of ways to protect them and yourself from insects and rodents. You don't need to grow vegetables in order to use natural means of pest control, in fact you don't need a garden at all.

During the summer months do you see mosquitoes, ants moths or mice around your yard? Plants and herbs will keep these pests away from your garden or home. You don't need to spend a fortune either and if you look at the cost, natural means of controlling pests is cheaper and much less dangerous than using any commercial bug killers. And they help[ you to stay clear of Toronto's $5000 fine for those breaking the new pesticide bylaw. The good thing about using these natural and proven methods of insect control is that you can have just a few flower pots of these things that you can move around to where they are needed or you could do as I do and scatter them throughout the garden but I also have some of these plants by my front and back doors to repel insects and to keep them out of my house.

I plant marigolds at the front and back end of my vegetable rows. I put Marigold there because the scent from Marigold confuses flying insects. They can't ruin your plants or vegetables if they can't get to them and Marigolds do an outstanding job at keeping flying insects away. They try to get near the garden, hit the Marigold scent and they get dizzy and fly off. Garlic is another good herb to use as a means of keeping flying insects away too and it also keeps a number of beetles and grubs away as well.

Do you have problems with ants in your garden or in your house? Ants will be repelled by Sage. Plant some sage around your property and around your garden and you will be ant free all year, it will drive the ants out of their underground homes and will chase them into your neighbors yard. If you plant some sage in some flower pots and place them beside your front and rear doorways, you will keep ants out of your house forever. You can also place a few sprigs in your cabinets or cupboards and that will keep the ants out of your kitchen. Leaving a few sprigs in the cellar will keep the ants from tunneling in to the house as well.

Are you tired of running around your home with a rolled up piece of newspaper trying to swat a fly that got in? A great way to keep flies out of the house altogether is to once again take some plower pots and plant some Basil. Place these flower pots by the doors and by a few windows and you will keep flies away. Basil is a tremendous all purpose insect repellent and it will work against moths, flies and other flying pests. Basil planted around tomatoes will help them taste better and it helps them grow better but the best part is that when the tomatoes are ready to be picked, you have the Basil for making sauce right there beside the tomatoes!

Two of the most disgusting creatures you find in gardens are snails and slugs....yuch. To keep these slimy creatures out of your garden and out of your life, plant some Anise. Anise is a great repellent for slugs and snails and also works to repel aphids.

I have a large and open back yard and I have a brook that runs through my yard and a lot of open space on each side of the brook. That means that I have field mice running around the area. I dont want to kill them but at the same time, I dont want them in or anywhere around my house, so I plant spearmint along the brook banks and around my yard and garden, I plant a lot of it around the foundation of my house and by my doors. This keeps mice away from my house altogether. It also makes my yard smell tremendous too but spearmint works and it will keep all rodents away without fail. If you ever get a mouse in the house, then you can always take some sprigs of the mint and scatter around the house or you can go to the nuclear bomb of rodent control and get some spearmint or peppermint oil and soak a cottonball in it and leave it in the corners of a few rooms. The smell will drive the rodents right out of the house and wont harm them at all.

Another great method of controlling ants, aphids and mice in and around your garden or house is to plant some catnip. Catnip is a superb repellent of insects but it will attract cats who just may find that they like to use your garden as a giant kitty litter box so if you plant some Rue there as well, that scent will repel dogs and cats and keep your garden happy.

There are a lot of natural means to keep your garden and your home free from insects and other pests. You do not have to try to destroy them by using harsh chemicals when natural means exist to control all garden and home pests. I use no chemicals in my gardens at all. I only use natural means of pest and rodent control and I have never lost any of my vegetables to insects or any four legged creatures. I attract the insects that I want such as bees but the rest always find a not welcomed sign waiting for them.

Try some of these methods, once you see that they do indeed work then try another and then another. In a very short time you will find that natural methods work better than any chemical that you can buy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shooting in West Hill

It was in the late afternoon and I heard the shots plain as day from my home half a kilometer away.

Two Toronto Police officers were patrolling an apartment at Morningside and Lawrence when they were shot at by a drive-by gunman outside a Scarborough high rise.

Slugs ripped into two cars parked at the apartment and also into the empty St. Martin de Porres schoolyard across the street. The shooting took place half a block away from where the police horse Brigarier was run down and killed.

Officers from 54 Division raced to the area and quickly found the four-door 2006 Acura parked on Oak Knolls Crescent, about three kilometers away.

A search of nearby McDonald's restaurant on Kingston Rd. near Port Union Rd. led to the arrest of one male who had moments earlier tried to hide a knife in the washroom.

Ours is a quiet neighbourhood, for the most part, as city neighourhoods in a major urban area go.

Crime has decreased by nearly ten percent over the past couple of years. We have a large new police division building, our outdated Mall is being replaced by a modern new shopping complex, our GO/VIA Train station has just completed a multi million dollar renewal.

New luxury condos are spreading along Kingston Rd. New Restaurants are being built. A vibrant community market with fresh vegetables, crafts and entertainment runs through the summer on the St. Margarets-in-the- Pines Church grounds. The City have rebuilt Kingston Road with a new treed median and Lawrence Ave in slated for upgrading this summer.

A new book by our local United Church Minister has become a national best seller. New Community Associations are hosting Community Picnics, Clean Up Days, Neighbour's Nights out and other events. More than any other area in Toronto, there is a sense of vibrancy about West Hill.

But all it takes is a punk with a gun creating the impression of the area being a dangerous place to visit to put everything at risk.

We are just emerging from the second most vicious winter since records were kept and may be entering a long hot summer.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Shoeless Joe's Restaurant Coming to West Hill

Evan Williams Director of Development at First Capital has confirmed that a Shoeless Joe's Restaurant will be a part of the new Morningside Crossing development. The restaurant will be built at the corner of Morningside and Lawrence.

A fast food restaurant from a chain that has not previously had an outlet in West Hill will also be an addition to the new development and will be located beside the new Shoeless Joe's.

Mr. Williams made his announcement at a joint meeting with the Coronation Community Association of West Hill and the Resident's Rising Community Association. The meeting had been arranged through the office of Ward 43 Councilor Paul Ainslie. John Alderdice, from Economic Development chaired the meeting.

Mr. Williams also confirmed that a Canada Post Office would be part of the new Shoppers Drug Mart currently under construction on the site. The cement foundation for both the Shoppers and the new Food Basic has been laid and the superstructure has begun in time for a summer opening of phase two of the development.

A Goodlife Fitness Centre will be located on the upper story of the new plaza currently under construction along Collinsgrove. This new plaza will host a new and enlarged LCBO, a Dollarama, a Bulk Barn and possibly fashion and hardware stores as well. The metalwork on the plaza has now been completed and the walled enclosing of the site is underway.

First Capital has also purchased the Blockbuster Plaza and is considering its options for these stores.

The new development will be only the second to be built to the LEEDS environmental standards and the grounds will be extensively landscaped to encourage pedestrian as well as vehicular traffic. The Community Associations pushed for a Community bulletin board along with appropriate seating and requested the developer consider a butcher shop along with a small department store.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

West Hill In Love

I have to admit it, we Canadians are not known for romance. If someone were to ask you to name the most romantic people on earth, Canadians would not immediately come to mind. Might not even make it onto your list as a postscript.

"Nice people" yes we would be near the top of your list. "Polite", "clean", "nice neighbours", okay you got us.

If you're ever in a fight, a couple of our hockey players would be handy to have around. But women seldom dream of toothless lovers.

If you need comedians for the Hollywood grist mill, Jim Carey, Martin Short or Mike Myers will do just fine. They'd be fun to have at a party, but they're not romantic. Oh Hollywood did its best to make us romantic, with those singing Mounty/beautiful Indian maiden movies back in the thirties. But the Canadian Mounted Police don't dress in those red surge jackets any more, they don't ride horses and they sure don't sing. If you get stopped for a ticket in Alberta, they'll look like any other cop in North America. And the same old, same old isn't romantic.

That's what makes it so strange that the entire population of Canada should have fallen in love, deeply passionately in love. The stand in the freezing cold just for a glimpse, a taste of the ardour of your affection, kind of love. Romance on a grand scale.

With a chain of donut restaurants.

Cue Enya, dim the lights, we are about to name the object of our affection: Tim Hortons

Just listen to what Wikipeadia has to say:

"Tim Hortons Inc. is a coffee-and-doughnut fast food restaurant chain. Founded in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1964, the store rapidly expanded across Canada to become the country's largest quick-service food chain.

"Tim Hortons franchise stores are plentiful in Canadian cities and towns. As of July 1, 2007, there were 2,733 outlets in Canada, 345 outlets in the United States and one outlet just outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. Tim Hortons has supplanted McDonald's as Canada's largest food service operator; it has nearly twice as many Canadian outlets as McDonald's, and its system-wide sales surpassed those of McDonald's Canadian operations in 2002. The chain accounted for 22.6% of all fast food industry revenues in Canada in 2005. Tim Hortons commands 76% of the Canadian market for baked goods (based on the number of customers served) and holds 62% of the Canadian coffee market (compared to Starbucks, in the number two position, at 7%)."

Have sweeter words ever been spoken? Can you not feel our hearts beating. Our soldiers in Afghanistan could not exist without Tim Hortons and our troops wrote enough pleading letters to the restaurant chain that they opened a store on our military base in Kandahar province.

And Tim Horton, the man for whom the entire chain is named, was a hockey player.

If you want to find romance in Canada, just go to any Tims and look for the line-up that stretches from the counter out the door into the cold frigid morning.

In West Hill, we are not afraid to suffer for our love.

Have pity on us, we're Canadians.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roadmap to a Vital Community

Invitations had been sent to every school, church, political and community organization in the area. But people arrive home weary from a days work and a long commute to the suburbs. And, of course, it was girls night on American Idol. Given such adversaries, would anyone come to hear a talk on community development by Toronto's Poet Laureate?

Millie, at Sister's Restaurant, had donated her party room for the evening and attended the event herself.

People trickled in and time raced toward the 7 pm start of the meeting. In the end, 25 people turned out in a room set for over 60. City Councilor Ron Moeser, MP John McKay and representatives from MPP Margaret Best attended, but no teachers and only one church sent two people. From that point of view it was a disappointment.

Pier Giorgio arrived, tired emotionally and physically from officiating at the burial of a friend. Although the Poet Laureate of Toronto, Giorgio was once a Brother in the Order of St. Augustine and is now a Roman Catholic Priest. The City Planner of Toronto had died suddenly and Giorgio had been asked to preside over his funeral. He had come to our meeting directly from that, dressed in his black suit and roman collar, the normal flamboyant clothing of the poet laid aside for his somber duties.

He went from table to table, engaging each individual in conversation. Who are you, why are you here (when so many others stayed in the comfort of their home), what do you want for your community?

Then he went to the lectern and waited patiently during his introduction. And then he began to speak. Hesitantly at first, struggling to find his way into his message. But then finding the heart of what he wanted to say, his voice gained strength, lifting the audience out of the drabness of suburban life into the promise of a vital community, where people spoke to each other, where artists found each other and contributed to the public space, where political will encouraged innovation and risk over safety, where messiness was tolerated and fears laid aside.

Here is the essence of his message: "Let's say an artist creates a piece of public sculpture, a red boot. You will find there are two reaction to this red boot--"Oh look, someone created a red boot and set it here on the sidewalk. Why would they do that? What a fun thing for someone to do!"--or "Look at that stupid red boot, someone's going to stub their toe on that. We better get in touch with our City Councilor and have that removed."

You can have vitality or safety, human interaction or safety, growth or safety, a healthy community or safety. But you can't have both. Creativity is a messy and risky human endeavor but joyful and hopeful for all of that.

The meeting went on for two hours, with Giorgio having another two hour drive back to his home north of the City.

As we left the meeting, a lunar eclipse was nearing the 3/4 mark. Attendees stood in the cold winter night, warmed by the meeting and the vibrant exchange of ideas that followed and watched the moon turn red. Like the statue of an old boot sitting on a sidewalk, just waiting for someone to stub their toe.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Toronto's Poet Laureate Talk Tonight

Toronto's Poet Laureate is giving a talk at Sister's Restaurant at 7 pm this evening. An adviser to the Prime Minister's office, the Premier of Ontario and Mayor Miller, on the factors that make for creative and very human communities, Di Cicco will focus on the Soul of the City.

MP John McKay, MPP Margaret Best and City Councilor Ron Moeser have all confirmed attendance., as has a representative from Paul Ainslie's office.

Some seating remains for this event so come early and prepare for a provocative evening.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Getting Personal

I decided to work from home on Friday. Year end is coming up and I had a lot of data to enter into AIM and knew from (painful) experience that the work goes faster in the quiet of my home office.

If my dog, Lindsay, was glad to have me home for the day, she concealed it well and could be found sleeping in various places around the house without ever seeming to move from one spot to the other.

About two o'clock I noticed three young teenagers walking down the street with shovels and assumed they were out to make some money shoveling driveways. They'd make no money from mine since I'd already cleaned it off twice that day.

However, one of the boys, without a shovel, walked up my drive, momentarily disappeared from my view, and then turned and walked back down it again. Thinking he had been delivering pamphlets, I went to the door to check the mail box.

Only to spot the same boy retrieving my ergonomic snow shovel from where he had tossed it into the middle of my neighbour's front lawn. I yelled, but he and his friends just kept walking. With my shovel added to their collection. Running back into the house I quickly put on a pair of boots and raced out the door. But they were gone, the street empty.

So I phoned the police and two patrol cars rolled up to my front door within five minutes. They took my statement and description of the boys and description of my shovel.

Being a pessimist, and faced with another snowfall today, I have just returned from purchasing a new shovel.

Oh, and Lindsay the guard dog, of course, slept through the whole thing. If a squirrel had stolen our shovel, I'm sure the entire neighbourhood would have heard about it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bob Johnston Ends Relationship with GM

As hard as it is to believe, on another day of heavy winter snow and miserable driving conditions, Spring is within reach. Only this year, when the snow leaves, it will be accompanied by a West Hill landmark that has served the community for nearly 40 years.

Bob Johnston Motors has terminated its long standing relationship with General Motors. Johnston Chevrolet Ltd. had been a fixture in the community since it opened its doors back in 1972. Not only was it the dealership of choice for local residents interested in GM products, but the Johnston family were well known contributors to neighbourhood events. Bob Johnston will continue as a service center for all makes of cars.

With a massive condominium complex replacing the Markington Plaza, the creation of the Morningside Crossing shopping Centre, and the redevelopment of the Montoro Motel site, West Hill is in the process of a remarkable transformation.

Indeed as Realtor Maria Florosz observes, "People are just coming to realize that Scarborough in general and in this area of Scarborough in particular, homes are significantly under valued."

If so, watch for even more radical change in the future.

Monday, February 4, 2008

PC Gord Hayford Retires

The smiling photo of PC Gord Hayford and Community Police Liaison Committee Chair Marilyn Hodge, was taken at last years 43 Division open house.

Gord has put a human face on policing in West Hill as the Crime Prevention Officer and expert in the way Environmental design affects public safety.

Gord announced his retirement from policing today:

A heartfelt THANK YOU

Greetings to all.

Many of you may have wondered over the past several months, what happened to me?

Well I’m still here. But only for today. I apologize for the lack of information but it was due to office politics. Nuff said.

I want you to know though that 43 Division has some of the most caring, competent, compassionate and professional hard working Police Officers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. And to her benefit. The second in command, Inspector Bernadette Button is one of the most intelligent and caring woman I know. A totally competent officer and leader. A real spark in the management of 43 Division.

I would encourage everyone to become more and more involved in your communities. Know that you can make a difference and you can make things change. A community in which people take an interest is a community that crime can not grab a hold of.
Get out on the street. Use your parks, use your recreation facilities. You have the ability to make the space you call your home better and safer. The police can not do this as much as you.

Several years ago, ( now I’m dating myself) a milk store called Beckers started a campaign with buttons which simply stated “our cops are tops”. Well Beckers is long gone and you could probably get a few bucks for those buttons on Ebay. But how about this. When you see a cop drive by, why not wave to him or her. If you see them on the street or in a plaza. Say hello. (No don’t buy them a coffee and donut. They get enough.)

You have no idea how far that goes to making the officer feel accepted and part of the community themselves. An officer who feels that way is more apt to take a more personal interest in the area they patrol. That simple gesture can be a crime fighting tool by it self.

Kind of one of those win win situations. It really doesn’t take much to make a community safer.

At any rate I have decided to retire and today was my last day on the job.
Tomorrow I will be just another citizen. My wife and I have moved up north to a new home on Lake Scugog and I have a water front property. I plan to catch up on some much needed fishing come the nice weather. ( If it ever comes)

I would like to extend my thanks to everyone in the community who have honoured me by allowing me to work alongside them. In the past 33 years I have seen many changes in South East Scarborough. Most for the better. Some of them I have had a part in changing. Most have been changed by you, the community. Your community is one of the most thriving in the city.
I have had the pleasure of working with some fine politicians, Ron Moser, Gay Cow born, David Soknaki, Maryann Chambers and Paul Ainsly just to mention a few.

I extend a special thanks to Lori Metcalfe who is the most dedicated community advocate I know. Also to the staff of CPAT, The Crime Prevention Association of Toronto and Lesley Chitra for their trust, support and dedication to me and the community. I don’t want to forget Marilyn Hodge, Co-Chair of the 43 Division CPLC ( Community Police liaison Committee) and the committee itself for their support.
To my replacement, Const Bill Campbell, the new Crime Prevention Officer, I wish great success. Bill is a very dedicated and caring officer who I know will go that extra distance for the community. A special thanks to Inspector Button for her support over the last few months. Thanks to Deputy Cheif Tony Warr. A great boss, great leader and a real gentleman. I also want to thank you, the community, for allowing me the opportunity to serve you.

On January 24th I was honoured with a retirement dinner / roast in which the Deputy Chief of Police attended along with other high ranking Police officers both active and retired. Members of the community were there, politicians, Auxiliary Police Officers, friends and family. I am fortunate to be able to live vicariously through two of my children who are both police officers at 52 and 54 Divisions.

No one could have asked for a better job or to work with better people than I had the privilege of over the past several years

So again I would like to say both a very heartfelt thanks and goodbye. 33 years working in the streets of Toronto with incredible people. What a ride.

Mark me 10-7

PC Gord Hayford
4496 (retired)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Markington Square to be replaced by Condos

The Markington Square Shopping Centre at the intersections of Markham-Kingston-and Eglinton Road (as the name suggests) is to be demolished and replaced by seven high rise condominiums., comprising 1400 new residential units. Only the Dominion and Beer store will remain.

A consultation meeting will take place at the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre at 7 pm on Monday February 4 to permit those interested to view the plans for the proposed new development. The Scarborough Village Community Association strongly urges residents to attend the meeting to voice their opinion on the development plans.

The planning application proposes a mixed-used project comprised of four apartment buildings in the seven- to nine-story range, two 23-story towers and one 28-story tower, as well as 26,200 square feet of retail space at the bottom of the buildings fronting Eglinton Avenue. For comparison, the 7 acre Plaza currently has 174,997 square feet of retail space. The Dominion and beer store in the northwest corner of the plaza are to remain.

Nearby Morningside Mall was recently been demolished and is the the process of being re-branded as Morningside Crossing and redeveloped as a higher end retail space.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Toronto's Poet Laureate Talk Rescheduled

An Evening With Toronto's Poet Laurate, Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, has been rescheduled for Wednesday February 20 at Sister's Restuarant. The talk, sponsored by the Coronation Community Association of West Hill, will focus on the Creative Community.

--There's no escaping the virtual project of the planet; keeping in mind that information technology enriches, extends our domain, generates wealth and makes life easier if not profound, we also recognize that it robs us of the indigenous, the flavored, the local. And that is the challenge of the contemporary city; the question of how to be international and at the same time unique.

Di Cicco’s philosophy has found popularity in forums ranging from The Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities, The Creative Cities Project of the Ontario and Toronto governments, to Waterfront Toronto to international conferences on urban sustainability. In 2005 he was appointed official "Curator" for the City of Toronto’s Humanitas project, a global showcase where Toronto will host its heritage, vision and strategy for global citizenship.

--The creative city is taken to mean different things. It means to prosper and to assert one’s heritage in a climate of adventure. It means innovation to those who would marry commerce and imagination. It means a welcoming city with places in which to relax, with people free to invent and encounter, through the arts, in public spaces and through architecture. But architecting a city is first about constructing the space between people, the metaphysical space¦ the way they feel about each other and for each other.

Di Cicco's work has earned him numerous awards, including five Canada Council Awards, six Ontario Arts Council Awards and the City of Toronto Arts Award. He was recently appointed the Emilio Goggio Visiting Professor in Italian-Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto.

As a unique exercise in creative Community building the Coronation Community Association of West Hill has invited representatives from every School, Police, Faith and other Community groups in West Hill, including our City, Provincial and Federal representatives. It is a rare opportunity to meet others working to enhance the quality life in our community.

--For until we have architected the civic space between each other, we will inevitably put up bad buildings, confused infrastructure and obscure the project of city spirit.

Hear Giorgio Di Cicco at Sister's Restaurant in 7 pm Wednesday February 20, 2008

For tickets visit the Events section of the Coronation CA website at http://www.coronationca.com/

Di Cicco was born in Arezzo, Italy, and was raised in Baltimore, Montreal, and Toronto. He currently resides in the countryside north of Toronto. He is the author of over thirteen books of poems from 1975 to 1986 including The Tough Romance, Dancing in the House Of Cards, Flying Deeper into the Century, and Virgin Science: Hunting Holistic Paradigms. He withdrew from the world of letters to join a monastery in 1986 and re-emerged in 2001 to publish Living in Paradise-- New and Selected Poems with Mansfield Press. He has been the Emilio Goggio Visiting Professor in Italian-Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto, and in 2004 he was named as the Poet Laureate for the City of Toronto.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Storefront's New Vision

Unique to West Hill, the East Scarborough Storefront has been providing assistance to residents for over five years. Begun as a pilot project funded largely by the federal government, Storefront could be found in the old Library location on the third level of the old Morningside Mall. When the Mall was slated for demolition Storefront moved to the vacant Police substation on Lawrence which has been its home for the past year.

With its first 5 year plan coming to a close, Storefront Manager, Anne Gloger, decided it was time time for a new vision and a reassessment of Storefront's role in the West Hill community.
About 100 people, including community members, agencies, City Councilor Paul Ainslie, Coronation Community Association of West Hill representatives, West Hill Community Services, Toronto Police and other Storefront supporters, met from 4-8 pm on January 23rd at St Margaret’s-in-the-Pines church, in order to shape the vision of the Storefront in the years to come.

As Ms. Gloger promised, it was a fun and interactive event…with good food! Numerous exciting ideas were generated by the process and it will take a while to sort through them all. But out of the wealth of material will come a new vision and a new direction for this vigorous community support.

Storefront currently provides - Settlement services in 12 languages- Health services (blood pressure checks, vaccines and more)- Legal advice lawyer- Safety tips and police information- Employment services- Senior fitness- Computer use & computer training- Homework clubs- Mental health supports- Youth services and groups and more.

For additional information on Storefront visit their website at: http://www.thestorefront.org/

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Who ReadsThe West Hill News?

A surprising number of people from a surprising number of different places, actually. Originally intended for residents of the West Hill area of Toronto, people are logging onto the West Hill News from all over the world.

The map above represents the log-ons from yesterday. Of course the main cluster, as intended, is located right here in West Hill and throughout southern Ontario, but we are also visited by an amazing number of people all down the East and West coasts of the United States.

Germany and Great Britain always generate a cluster of "hits" but so to do Australia and India. Westhillians vacationing down south are likely responsible for the cluster of hits we get from Mexico.

Both Japan and Nigeria are also often represented. Not on yesterday's map, but with surprising regularity.

So, to all of you out there, welcome and I hope you're enjoying your visit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More trees Under Threat in Woodgreen Ravine

Two white tailed deer returned to the young forest clearcut by developers last week, gingerly stepping around the tangled branches of the fallen trees, unaware 36 additional trees are now under threat at the southern end of the Ravine. The trees bordering Danzig Creek are protected by the Ravine bylaw and were not part of the recent clear cutting. However, as Don York, President of the Manse Valley Community Association, writes:

In the fall of 2007, trees in the protected area were tagged and when we questioned this we were advised that this area would be cleared for the construction of the sewer lines for the new development. We were later told that an agreement had been reached with the developer to tunnel in this area to minimize the loss of trees. On Friday, Jan. 11, 2008, a number of representatives from the City and from David Schaeffer Engineering Ltd. were on site examining the protected area, and when questioned, they said that they had changed their mind regarding tunneling and would be clear-cutting that section. A total of 36 trees will be removed, many of them of significant size.
Since we were originally told that there would be no loss of trees in the protected area we have never questioned that part of the development plans. Now we find out we have been mislead. The area above Danzig Creek is protected under the Ravine Bylaw, and those trees need to be protected, as provided by the Bylaw.
There were 32 trees identified on the proposed construction site as "protected" under the Tree Bylaw, but Council approval was given to remove them with no regard to the significant opposition by the public. Now we have 36 trees in the ravine area, protected under the Ravine Bylaw, and there appears to be NO requirement to get ANY permission from Council. How is this possible???
The fact that there was no reference in any of the developer documentation related to the removal of trees in the protected ravine area shows that either the Engineering firm and the City staff were incompetent in their assessment and review, or there was a DELIBERATE omission of this fact to avoid any additional confrontation with residents. Neither of these possibilities is acceptable! If facts were omitted from the report for this item, how many other facts were conveniently removed from other reports? How many more "surprises" are there going to be?
The removal of the trees in the protected area violates the terms of the Ravine Bylaw. The fact that NO approvals appear to be required to do so shows a major flaw in the process. The fact that an "agreement" was reached to tunnel and then suddenly and quietly reversed is deceitful. There was NO community involvement or notification on this !!!
IMMEDIATE action is required to further investigate this situation and discuss possible alternatives. An answer is required on how the City staff and the developer can decide to remove trees in a protected area with NO Council approval. The developer should NOT be allowed to remove those trees prior to a full investigation of this matter. It is our understanding that this removal could occur during the week beginning January 14, 2008, so there is no time for delay in actioning this item.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ravaged--2000 Trees lost at Woodgreen Ravine

Well its gone. The developers finally moved in with the 40 ton feller-buncher on Thursday and by the end of the day its massive blade had ripped through all two thousand trees at Woodgreen Ravine. The 4 year battle to save this young forested site in West Hill had come to an end.

Bruce Smith, Director responsible for the Advisory Board of the Manse Valley Community Association, was in disbelief that after such a long and valiant battle, machinery could clear cut such a large area in such a short period of time. In place of a forest, the land was littered with five acres of fallen trunks and branches waiting to be ground to sawdust.

Back in November, over 30 local residents had successfully braved nearly freezing rain at 7:30 in the morning to block the developers entrance to the site. Don York, President of the MVCA had just submitted a brilliant and devastating rebuttal to the staff report negating the the area's notorious water drainage problem. There seemed to be hope. There seemed to be time. But there wasn't. This time the developers arrived unannounced and all the community could do was watch, and cry.

The Ravine is a five acre site, located near Lawrence Ave. E. and Manse Road behind the new 43 Division Police Station. This wonderful site had more than 1200 trees, plus an additional 800 saplings, and many types of bushes and flowers. It was the home to abundant wildlife including white tailed deer, fox, raccoons and a wide variety of birds. It was both a resting and feeding ground for the monarch butterfly on its migration to Mexico. The Ravine was used by people of all ages for playing, walking, exploring, meeting, or enjoying the fruits of a huge blackberry patch.

All of this, however, has come to an end. The City of Toronto, as owners of the property, sold it to a developer for the construction of 60 affordable houses. The developer is now in the process of clear-cutting the site, and removing the top layers of soil so that not a single blade of grass will remain.

There had been many reasons to save this environmentally sensitive woodlot. In addition to being a community meeting place and treasure, and a home to birds and animals, the trees help act as a carbon sink removing pollutants from the air, helping moderate the air quality in the area. The Ravine borders on an industrial site along Coronation Drive with a large concentration of chemical industries. The area has been identified as having the fifth highest toxic chemical emissions in the City of Toronto.

With continued population growth, all wild areas are now precious but they are especially critical where, by some miracle, that wilderness can still be found the heart of a City of three million, the economic engine of an entire nation. In such a large city it is easy to loose sight of the fact that we are a part of nature. And now with the loss of Woodgreen Ravine, it will be harder still to hold onto that knowledge.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Scarborough Community Concert Band

The seniors and their families crowding the large central lounge at Cedarview Lodge broke into delighted applause as the Scarborough Community Concert Band moved out of the classical section of their program and began a rousing rendition of Jingle Bell rock.

The thirty piece band, now in its 35 season, were obviously enjoying themselves and the warm reception they were getting from their audience. In a way, the occasion was a kind of minor miracle. Here were thirty people, several of them from West Hill, not only taking an evening of their time out of the busy Christmas season to brighten the lives of Cedarbrook's elderly residents, but who devoted several nights a month to rehearsals, all at their own expense. Just for the love of playing music.

The concert band is comprised totally of wind instruments, "no strings attached", as they like to say. Founded in 1972 by Paul Dunn and David Bourque, it was originally intended as an opportunity for recent highschool music program graduates to continue their love of music. Steve Duff, head of the music department at David and Mary Thompson C.I. was the first music director. Over time several members of the Band went on to professional careers with the Toronto Symphony and the Canadian Opera Company.

Now under the direction of Andrew Chung, the group is self sufficient, supported by corporate and individual sponsorships and welcomes any brass or woodwind musicians willing to make the commitment of time and with an interest in performing.

As the band's final number ended, the audience at Cedarbrook weren't able to give a standing ovation, but the cheers and applause were warm and prolonged enough to encourage an encore.

If you missed the Scarborough Community Concert Band at Cedarbrook, look for them at the Scarborough Civic Centre this summer, where rumour has it , they will be joined by highlanders playing bagpipes for at least one number.