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

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:

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.