July 2019, Scarborough, On

WexPOPS

WexPOPS launching Friday July 5th at Wexford Plaza at Lawrence Ave. E. and Warden Ave.  It’s a part of “The  Taste of Lawrence”  a three-day food and cultural festival that takes place in the Wexford Heights BIA.  While a taste of Lawrence is on for three days WexPOPS will be in place in the parking lot for 6 weeks engaging the community and raising awareness about food security.  At the end of the six weeks vegetables that are growing as part of the display will be harvested for local residents.  Plants that are native to the area will be moved to “The Meadoway”.   For more info   https://plazapops.ca/about

As Scarborough’s largest street festival it boasts the most enticing flavours from every cultural community in the GTA. Locals and tourists alike come to the festival to experience the Taste firsthand as they celebrate their cultures and learn about the rich heritage of others.

The festival was founded 17 years ago by Councillor Michael Thompson and a group of community members who had a vision for attracting visitors to the vibrant community on Lawrence Ave that is now known as the Wexford Heights BIA. The first event was held in a local parking lot and attracted just over one thousand people. However, with diligence and vision from the councillor and the BIA, the festival population has grown to accept more than 200,000 people onto Lawrence Ave.

Sue-Ann Levy; a Toronto Sun reporter, is told to leave a public meeting held Wednesday June 12th at the Birchmount Community Centre by Toronto Police Sgt. David Liska. The meeting was held to answer residents concerns about the proposed Thunder Womens Healing Lodge. Ms. Levy apparently irked supporters by asking Patti Pettigrew, the president of the TWHLS, questions outside the meeting space. She was told by TPS “As an agent of the city property we’re asking you to leave under the Trespass and Property Act,”

Thunder At Birchmount Community Centre

By Derek Pinder
The Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society held a community information session on June 12th to describe a planned facility for indigenous women at 2217 Kingston Road, and as a lead in to an upcoming Committee of Adjustment meeting. The session attracted a huge crowd of some 400 people, which is probably unprecedented.
The meeting got off to a start which was most welcoming and warm. There were prayers and a drumming performance and a general introduction to the beliefs and values of the indigenous people. Gradually, however, the tone of the meeting changed and it was not long before we were on to such politically-correct topics as cultural appropriation, residential schools and colonialism. It became apparent that the majority of the attendees were not local residents but were there as a claque to support the proposed development.
The function of the Lodge is to provide housing for indigenous women who are transitioning back into society. Some have been released after serving prison sentences; some have not been convicted. The total number of residents will be 24 and the staff will number 4. The facility was described as a six-storey structure with two floors housing healing lodge residents and three floors providing transitional housing. The ground floor was described as retail. There will be a ceremonial fire pit at the rear.
Thirty minutes had been set aside for questions and answers but went on for much longer because, in spite of a request for brevity, many in the audience wanted only to make speeches in favour of the proposal. 67% of those who got valuable microphone time were supportive and it was obvious that this represented the stacked audience. Of that 67%, only one third actually asked a question. The remainder merely made lengthy, emotional and self-serving speeches. These speakers gave rise to applause, screaming, whooping and the intervention of drum beats. Many of those who voiced concerns were heckled. A columnist from the Toronto Sun was evicted, seemingly for just doing her job.
A number of speakers expressed concern about the introduction of a criminal element to the neighbourhood. The same concerns were expressed regarding the recently-relocated men’s shelter on Kingston Road, and that seems to have worked out.
Another concern was parking. Only one parking space will be provided instead of 12 as stated in the zoning requirements. Other staff and visitors will have to park on the street. Incredibly, this has been accepted as a “minor variance” by the City. We are still waiting for the comprehensive Cliffside parking strategy that was recommended in the 2009 Avenue Study.
A number of people asked what had led to the decision to build a healing lodge in this location. The answer was given that Ward 20 has the largest indigenous population in Toronto but when pressed on this point it was acknowledged that there were no statistics to support this claim.
The most frequently asked question was “How can I help?” but there were no answers to this positive inquiry except to come out to meetings like this one.
The reactions from local residents who were leaving the meeting were that they had felt intimidated, that questions had not been answered and that they had only learned of the meeting by chance.
Subsequent to the information session, it has been decided to defer the Committee of Adjustment Meeting pending further community consultations through smaller groups. A wise decision. If you would like to be involved, contact Gary Crawford’s office at 416-392-4052 or councillor_crawford@toronto.ca.