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Vol.1 June, 2012

Your local publication on economic development for the Weston/Mt.Dennis area

Weston Rd. U Eglington West U Lawrence West U Jane St.

The State of Business on Weston Road • Major Developments in Mount Dennis & Weston Road • About W.E.L.E.D • Local Business Spotlight


Content Think Economic Development...................................................................................................................03. West End Local Economic Development..................................................................................................05 Featured Business: New Era Hair Studio...................................................................................................06 Featured Business: Eastern Decor...............................................................................................................07 State of Business: Research presentation....................................................................................................09 Major Developments in Mount Dennis & Weston Road...........................................................................11 Featured Business: L& S Health Care Inc. ...............................................................................................12 Featured Business: Kaneshi Market...........................................................................................................13 Future Projects............................................................................................................................................14 Resources....................................................................................................................................................15

Acknowledgement Action for Neighbourhood Change Cutty Duncan Sara Abdo Natalia Khabarova Social Planning Winston Tinglin York Youth Coalition Shadya Yasin Omar Francis Community Researchers and Organizers Nivell (Kurt) Strachan Sojica John Dr. Gail Matthews Shane McLeod Ayana Francis Michael Miller

Ontario Institute For Studies in Education:Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning (APCOL) Thomas Saczkowski Erin Oldynski Julie Chamberlain Youssef Sawan Peter Sawchuk Department of Geography and Program in Planning, University of Toronto Kuni Kamizaki Heather McLean Katharine N. Rankin David Seitz Prasad Khanolkar Nehal El-Hadi Melissa Fong

Cover Design: Michael Miller | Editor: Dr. Gail Matthews Layout & Design: Fatma Yasin | Photography: Michael Miller Article Contributors: Sara Abdo,Cutty Duncan, Ayana Francis & Heather McLean

2 | Content


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Economic Development

When residents and community members are asked what area they would most like to see improve in their neighbourhood, the response is often related to improving the financial or economic conditions of residents. We often hear about helping family members and friends get good employment, having a healthy local economy which means successful local businesses that meet the needs and wants of local residents, and the existence of local opportunities for upward financial mobility or financial prosperity. However, when working to improve conditions of neighbourhoods, improving the economic climate can seem like the most impossible task to overcome. It is no surprise then, that many community development professionals such as local politicians, resident organizers and activists dedicated to making neighbourhood improvement often settle on small victories in this arena that rarely strive to make significant impact on the community. Yet, it is this kind of impact that residents need and demand. However, when taking on the work of economic improvement, rarely do we as community development professionals work with an economic development strategy strong enough to endure the competing interest that are naturally found in diverse communities as ours. Yet again, this is the challenge of our work if we are to achieve the kind of impact that community members demand and need. So as we move forward and think economic development, as we work to improve the economic conditions of our neighbourhoods and deliver the kind of opportunities strong neighbourhoods possess, I look forward to building and implementing the kind of locally driven economic development strategy that involves, excites and delivers! Cutty Duncan Project Coordinator, Action for Neighbourhood Change – Mount Dennis Social Planning Toronto

Think Economic Development | 3


W.E.L.E.D

Top Left: Heather Mclean, Cutty Duncan, Nivell (Kurt) Strachan, NehalEl-Hadi, Shadya Yasin,

Katherine N. Rankin Bottom Left: Michael Miller, Fatma Yasin, Ayana Francis, Kuni Kamizaki,

Erin Oldynski, Dr. Gail Matthews Missing: Sara Abdo, Sojica John

The West End Local Economic Development (W.E.L.E.D) project aims to build a solid local economic development strategy based on community research involving local business owners, residents, community organizations and government representatives. It is a collaborative effort to improve the economic conditions of the area. With a focus on strengthening local assets W.E.L.E.D is forging links with city wide movements working to alleviate the systemic roots of poverty. Our goal is to bring about long lasting and positive changes in the Weston-Mount Dennis area of Toronto. Our local economic development strategy is as follows: • Engage with marginalized groups, including local business owners • Develop a collective approach to neighbourhood economic development • Identify local economic development priorities and strategies • Explore ways to support small and medium size businesses in the neighbourhood to make them more sustainable • Build a stronger sense of community • Pursue economic opportunities for local youth and residents, including supports for self-employment and entrepreneurship, including links with potential employers. 4 | About W.E.L.E.D

Action for Neighbourhood Change-Mt. Dennis will collaborate with local stake holders. Community Partners (CGEN)Commercial Gentrification Research – Mt. Dennis: (Gentrification, Diverse Economies & the Politics of Social Mix University of Toronto, Department of Geography and Program in Planning) This research examines the role of neighbourhood commercial spaces in processes of gentrification, displacement pressure and urban spatial inequality. To gentrify means to convert a disinvested area in the city into a more affluent or ‘up-market’ area, ‘based on the influx of “different” people to those there already’—a new, more affluent middle or upper class. The process results in increased property values and usually in displacement of many original occupants of a neighbourhood.


Mt. Dennis is a neighbourhood experiencing gentrification and there are many pressures on our area associated with City economic development priorities. The proposed Eglinton subway, the construction of Metrolinx, and all the new developments that are likely to arise are some examples. The research is funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada and it is led by University of Toronto Professor Katharine Rankin. APCOL) Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning (APCOL)/Weston-Mt.Dennis Area: Ontario Institute For Studies in Education - University of Toronto

York Youth Coalition (YYC) The York Youth Coalition was formed in 2006 and is comprised of over 15 youth serving agencies, working in the former City of York. YYC is funded by the City of Toronto Social Development Investment Program. Part of their mandate is to coordinate, collaborate and partner as a collective while providing support and services to youth aged 13-29. Role of Community Members Economic Development Resident Advisory Group

The APCOL project is a community-university action research project focusing on how people learn to engage, re-engage, or remain unengaged in various forms of anti-poverty activism. Key questions include how people get involved, how they stay involved and why someone might choose not to get involved.

An Advisory Group is made up of local residents and business owners and is supported by the Action for Neighbourhood Change Project – Mount Dennis. The role of the advisory group is to lead in developing priorities and strategic direction of the WELED initiative through participation in the WELED Steering Committee.

In coordination with ANC-Mt Dennis and C-GEN, APCOL’s goals are to document and research how people in the WestonMt.Dennis community organize. Also, APCOL is looking at economic development with opportunities for youth and how they can collaborate with local businesses to improve local economic conditions.

Some Advisory Group members also act as Community Organizers/Researchers for the WELED initiative with the responsibility for conducting interviews with local businesses, and community leaders. They also provide insight into the perspective of local businesses and serve as ambassadors of the two research projects.

Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC): Mt. Dennis Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) is a United Way project that was initiated in 2006. Its goals are to provide an approach to locally-driven neighbourhood revitalization that can enhance the capacity of individuals and families to build and sustain strong, healthy communities. Social Planning Toronto (SPT) Social Planning Toronto is a non-profit agency whose mission is to help build a civic society, capitalizing on the considerable capacities of their staff, board, members, volunteers, and community partners, both locally and city-wide. In their work, they focus on policy research and analysis, community capacity building, community education and advocacy, and social reporting.

Above Photograph Left Side: Shadya Yasin, Fatma Yasin, Sojica John, Melissa Fong, Heather Mclean, Lisa Thomas

Right Side: Dr.Gail Matthews, Shane Mcleod, Michael Miller, Nivell (Kurt) Strachan, Katherine N. Rankin, Cutty Duncan,

Nehal El-Hadi, Peter Sawchuk, Ayana Francis Missing: Sara Abdo

With the W.E.L.E.D , SPT is the lead agency for the APCOL research initiative and manages the Action for Neighbourhood Change project in Mount Dennis. SPT is funded by United Way of Greater Toronto.

About W.E.L.E.D | 5


New Era Hair Studio

In business for just over 2 years, New Era Hair Studio serves mostly African-Canadian clients and is located at 1362-B Weston Road. Angella, owner of New Era Hair Studio, and the barber widely known as ‘College Man’ are currently the only employees. College Man acknowledges that the New Era Studio’s space is quite comfortable for clients; however, the location of the studio presents challenges. Located in the Signature Plaza on Weston Road, just south of Jane Street, the studio can be difficult to spot from the street. As a result of the ‘hidden’ location, College Man has to put a greater emphasis on marketing. “I market (the) business in more than one way—The way I cut hair, (through) business cards, customers help to market, too,” he said. In addition to having marketing skills, a successful barber must sometimes help people with problems in their life. To College Man the job is not only to ensure that the clients leave with quality haircuts, but that when requests are made, that they also receive the best advice. “I am not only a barber, I am a doctor…sometimes they come for counseling,” he acknowledged. College Man epitomizes the multifaceted role of a successful barber on Weston Road. He says,

6 | Business Feature:New Era Hair Studio

“Reliability is an asset, and customer service and good business ethics are important assets too. To be successful, you have to be good at what you do­—be professional. Customers are number one!” Written by Ayana Francis Photos by Michael Miller


Eastern Decor

Marian Sheikhnur, a Somali-Canadian, and owner of Eastern Décor could be seen as an inspiration to many. She immigrated to Canada in 1997 and immediately set out to achieve her dream. She opened Eastern Décor with her sister in August 2011 which is located at 1355 Weston Rd. Eastern Décor is one of those hidden gems that could easily go unnoticed.

To my surprise, my eyes caught hold of some of the most elegant pieces I have ever seen, a Middle Eastern chest of drawers. As Marian said, “My products are unique to this community. People mainly come for the carpets, cabinets, and interior decorations.” And they are truly unique. As a new business owner Marian faces some business challenges. “The people in this area do not have what I have and that is why I (have few) challenges. They do not have the decorations, perfumes, and the carpets,” she said. With Marian’s passion and dedication she is well on her way to being a successful business owner. Her gems could add a touch of personality to your household, and deserve a look. Written by Ayana Francis Photos by Michael Miller

Business Feature: Eastern Decor | 7


State of Business

On April 19th 2012 the West End Local Economic Development (W.E.L.E.D) initiative formally introduced itself to members of wider Weston Mount Dennis community. WELED is a result of the combination of three initiatives; 1. Commercial Gentrification Research work led by Dr.

Katharine Rankin of University of Toronto Geography

2. APCOL (Anti Poverty Community Organizing

Learning initiative led by researchers from University of Toronto’s OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education)

3. The Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC)

-Mount Dennis project which supports residents in making neighbourhood improvements.

Under the WELED banner the aim is to improve local economic conditions by supporting local business communities, entrepreneurs, and the self employed. The April 19th event provided an opportunity to present findings from the local Commercial Gentrification research work led by Dr. Katharine Rankin which explored the ‘State of Business on Weston Road’. Local business owners/operators, along with other community stakeholders which included political representatives and residents were all in attendance at Shilla Dynasty restaurant (located at the corner of Weston road and Eglinton Avenue).

8 | State of Business on Weston Mt. Dennis

Although a full presentation of Dr. Katharine’s work will be published in this publication shortly, we can say that one key finding is the fact that contrary to what some believe, Weston Road – Mount Dennis area is already seen as a destination point by many people as a lot of the local businesses indicated they do the majority of their business with clients who reside outside the immediate community. In fact, many businesses have clients commuting from the 905 regions to do business on Weston Road. Knowing people are willing to travel to the area to conduct business our question now is: how to build and market the area to increase the business traffic? The April 19th WELED event saw many business owners for the first time come out and connect with other local businesses owners and community members all with the interest of strengthening local business and improving overall economic conditions. In fact, this was probably the most encouraging outcome of the evening. But when we speak of improving local business and economic conditions there are some very strong examples across the city of businesses working together to make their community an exciting place to do business and live. Its now up to local businesses to continue to connect, think as a community and take advantage of the many opportunities that change will bring to the community. Written by Sara Abdo


on Weston Mt. Dennis

State of Business on Weston Mt. Dennis | 9


Major Development In Mount Dennis & Weston Road

Mount Dennis Eglinton Cross Town Light Rail Transit In February 2012, the City of Toronto approved plans to build the Eglinton Cross Town transit plan, 52 KM of transit connecting Kennedy Station in Scarborough and Jane Street. 10 KM of this line, but light rail will connect the section from Keele to Jane Street. This line will connect with 3 subway lines and 54 bus routes. New Residential Development Along Eglinton Urban Arts/Tech Media Hub A new youth facility is being introduced in Mt. Dennis at 5 Bartonville Avenue. Architects from are designing the space to include a media centre, music studio, arts workshop space and office space for youth programming. This is a joint venture with Microsoft and Humber College. Mt. Dennis Business Improvement Area (BIA) The established BIA is collaborating on various initiatives to improve local business between Ray to the North and Lambton to the South along Weston Rd. These projects include improving facades, streetscaping and encouraging new opportunities to promote local shopping. Mt. Dennis Library Renovation A major renovation of the Mt. Dennis Library began in 2012. The library is scheduled to re-open in 2013. Nearby Kodak Lands Metrolinx bought the entire Kodak site from Metrus Development. Metrolinx plans to develop a mobility hub on the site–a transfer point between Eglinton and Scaborough on the crosstown TTC. 10 | Major Developments in Weston Mount Dennis

Metrus (the site’s former owner) planned to develop big-box retail and some residential sites. A network including the Mt. Dennis Community Association, the Labour Council, Blue Green have critiqued this development vision that would result in low-paying, part-time jobs. In contrast, they push for new development that support higher-paying jobs offer training and work opportunities for local residents. The Labour Council has challenged Metrolinx to maximize the use of the site to create spin-off developments that will create employment and training options. Development Plans in Weston Rail Corridor Construction (An agency of the Government of Ontario created to improve the coordination and integration of all modes of transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Metrolinx) is going ahead with plans to develop the Georgetown South (GTS) Project. This project will provide infrastructure improvements to meet existing GO Transit ridership demand and future growth. Through track sharing, it also allows for a new Air Rail Link (ARL) between Toronto’s Union Station and Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Rail Platform A portion of the rail corridor will be in a covered tunnel as part of the Metrolinx Georgetown South Projects. The development offers new possibilities for a community space. GO/ARL Station New, regular service between Union Station and Pearson Airport will start by 2015. The current plan is to relocate the existing GO Transit station to south of Lawrence Avenue along


Weston Road to allow the GO and air-rail link (ARL) tracks to be tunneled underneath King and Church streets. A temporary Weston station south of Lawrence is expected to be operational by next spring. A pedestrian plaza and bridge over Lawrence Avenue is to be completed by fall 2014 with full service to the new station, which includes ARL service, expected to be ready for 2015. The Mount Dennis Community Association (MDCA) has raised some concerns about the rail corridor construction in Mt. Dennis. 1) MDCA is worried that this construction is going ahead without a plan for noise barriers. A 2009 report recommended noise barriers as an important part of transit design. 2) MDCA has also pressed Metrolinx to include ballasts (a device used to reduce vibration) in this plan. According to the study, Mt. Dennis has “stiff” soil that will transmit vibration but Metrolinx proposals do not call for vibration ballasts in the neighbourhood; and 3) MDCA has critiqued Metrolinx’s plans to remove vegetation – trees and shrubs – along the rail corridor. Weston 2021 The City of Toronto, Urban Land Institute and Metrolinx have collaborated with the Weston Business Improvement Area and the Weston Village Resident’s Association to envision Weston 2021, a revitalization plan for the Weston-Lawrence area. The strategy is meant to guide re-investment in the area in the area bounded by the Humber River to the west, Church Street to the north, Victoria Avenue to the south and Rosemount Avenue/ Sam Frustaglio Drive to the east in Weston. The multi-tiered revitalization plan envisions multiple development projects to be incorporated with the Metrolinx station redevelopment. These plans include parks projects, tree planting, business improvement initiatives, employment strategies and community safety planning. For example, the John Street Revitalization/ Streetscape Plan calls for the transformation of John Street into

a vibrant avenue including providing a space for Weston’s farmers’ market; an improved environment for existing and future retail, restaurant and cafés; and green spaces and walkable areas to link the commercial core and the heritage neighbourhood of Old Weston Village. Already the Urban Land Institute plans to inject between $75,000 and $85,000 to kick-start urban development and renewal of Weston Village. This plan is in the visioning stage. In 2011, Metronlinx, the Urban Land Institute and the City of Toronto held a community planning meeting where community members and organizations provided their input. A wide network of people and organizations including the Toronto Public Library, The Toronto Community Housing Corporation, property developers, the Toronto police, and various residents attended. In the fall of 2012, a final plan will be put into production. Tower Renewal Initiative The Tower Renewal Office is investigating the possibilities for improving a cluster of residential towers in Weston. Also Near Mt. Dennis Canada Post Processing Centre An application is pending for a new processing centre for Canada Post which will boost local job numbers. York Community Centre The construction of the long awaited community centre at Black Creek Drive and Eglington is planned to take place between May 2012 and Winter 2013. Compiled by Heather McLean

Major Developments in Weston Mount Dennis | 11


L&S Health Care Inc.

L&S Health Care Inc. owned by Linda Su is located at 1288A Weston Road and is a rare find. Massage establishments can be found all around the GTA, but not many cater to both leisure and therapeutic needs. As Linda noted, “Clients complain that they cannot find the ‘real massage,’” (referring to massage services that provide therapeutic treatments) and are pleased to know that services like ours still exist. Although clients praise Linda’s services, they are not too keen about the lack of available parking. As an establishment that has been operating for six years in the Mount Dennis neighbourhood (between Eglinton and Jane, on Weston Road), Linda understands the difficulties involved in running a business and identifies one of the problems as political. “Business is okay, but people are (deterred) because of the parking. A lot of my customers (are ticketed). It is ridiculous. Massage is two hours and parking is one hour,” she said. Members of the government need to find a way to help small establishments. At times the simplest way is to provide more parking spaces. Di Di, an employee of L&S Health Care Inc. believes that finding available parking space would not be an issue if their business connected to local clients. She acknowledges that there is a lack of local advertising. She suggests that more time and money should be invested in local promotions. With the inclusion of local clients, Linda and her team believe they could help treat a lot of the medical needs of the local residents. 12 | Business Feature:L& S Health Care Inc.

Di Di says that her current clients come because they have medical problems and that very few ask for relaxation services. L&S Health Care Inc. specializes in holistic treatment that include services like Shiatsu, Swedish and Thai massage. These services involve deep cleansing, purifying and soothing the body that would benefit the aging population in Mount Dennis. Residents of Mount Dennis should visit L&S Health Care Inc’s and consider their services. As Di Di noted their clients receive holistic treatment as opposed to focusing on one area of the body. Clients leave delighted. L&S Health Care Inc. provides special offers such as: a two hour combo for $130.00 (sauna, Korean body scrub and massage). Although their services may appear a bit steep but the results are well worth it. Written by Ayana Francis Photos by Michael Miller


Kaneshi Market

Kaneshi Market is one of the only African operated markets on Weston Road catering not only to the African community, but the Caribbean community as well. Doris Karikari is the owner of Kaneshi market, which has been in operation in Mount Dennis for more than twenty years. As one of the longest business owner in the community, she has seen businesses that have succeeded and some that have failed. “I enjoy it here, although it is small,” Doris Karikari said, as she commented on her store’s structure. Doris says that part of the reason many businesses have failed is because many people do not have disposable income. Doris is a resident of Brampton, but has never given much thought to opening a business in Brampton. “You have your customers already, (and) you know where you are going…why (would you) want to leave?” she said. Similar to most businesses in this community, Doris built strong social relationships with local and outside clients. “The person that just left, she is from Pickering... It is how you treat your customers,” she noted. Although her business does not operate within the traditional 10-8pm time slot, she uses her customer service skills to maintain her current customers and draw in new customers through word of mouth. Doris is business savvy, and adopted innovative strategies to running the market. “It is good to have a lot of stuff because some people may come in for tomatoes and if they see salt-fish they (would) buy it, too,” she said. If you are in search of authentic flavours from Africa with an emphasis of Ghanaian culture, and Caribbean products, visit Kaneshi Market at 1190 Weston Road. Written by Ayana Francis Photos by Michael Miller

Business Feature: Kaneshi Market | 13


Future Projects West Won Fest (westwonfest.com): We are very excited about the upcoming annual summer festival on July 14, 2012 on Weston Road. This festival is all about celebrating success and bringing the neighborhood together. This is the second year of the festival, and we are hoping to make it much bigger than last year. We will have musical performances, a domino competition, a kids fun zone, a vendor market area, sports tournaments, a gospel competition and much more. We are also looking into ways of involving the local business owners through possible incentives like “West Won Deals” that will allow businesses to promote their best deals during the festival. Shop West Side (www.shopwestside.ca): The website is currently underdevelopment with an aim to promote local businesses on Weston Road (Mount Dennis), Weston Road and Lawrence area, Keele and Eglinton area, and the Jane-Lawrence area. Our goal is to provide a directory of businesses to highlight the many unique local businesses in this neighborhood. Business owners will have an “online presence” which is important at a time when more people look online to find services. We plan to interview the talented owners behind the locally owned establishments, showcase these successful businesses, and highlight their products. In the future, we also hope to support business owners in developing their own website linked to Shopwestside.ca. They will be able to advertise their location, images, products/or menu online and reach a larger audience. We are taking pictures of the businesses along Weston Road. If you have not yet been contacted, please call us.

14 | Future Projects

We will take a picture and add your business to the directory as soon as possible. West End Economic Development Magazine We are proud to present the West End Local Economic Development magazine. With this publication our goal is to support economic development in this neighborhood, and ultimately develop a locally driven economic development strategy that helps business owners, emerging entrepreneurs, the self employed, community and government organizations improve local employment opportunities. In this magazine we include information about the area, upcoming events, business resources, featuring businesses, and much more. We are always looking for local writers, photographers or videographers. If you would like to support this project please contact Cutty Duncan at 416-242-7031. Written by Sara Abdo


Resources Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) ANC Mount Dennis 1366 B Weston Road Toronto , ON , M4M 4R8 Phone: 416-242-7031 Email: cduncan@socialplanningtoronto.org Business Improvement Area (BIA) City BIA office Phone: 416-392-1291 http://www.toronto-bia.com/ Mt.Dennis BIA Phone: 416-392-4091 (Chairperson contact Frances Nunziata) City of Toronto Licensing and permit Issuing East York civic Centre 3rd floor -850 Coxwell Avenue Toronto ON, M46 5R1 Hours of operation: 8:30-4:30 Phone: 416-392-6700 Connect Legal: Advice for Immigrant entrepreneurs Talk to lawyers for free and ask legal business questions, workshops and education about how to run and maintain business available. http://www.connectlegal.ca/small_business_owners/ 20 Bloor Street East Toronto, ON M4W 3T3 Phone: 416-964-3933 Email: info@connectlegal.ca Frances Nunziata (City Councillor of York South-WestonWard 11) 100 Queen Street West, Suite C49 Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Phone: 416-392-4091 councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca or contact Executive Assistant Jennifer Cicchelli Phone: 416-392-4092 Email: jcicche@toronto.ca

Laura Albanese (MPP) York South -Weston-Provincial Level Unit 102-2301 Keele street Toronto, ON , M6M 3Z9 Phone: 416-243-7984 Email: lalbanese.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org Mike Sullivan (MP) York South-Weston- Federal Level 36 South Station St. (Weston & Lawrence Avenue West) Phone: (416)-656-2526 Email: mike.sullivan@parl.gc.ca Ontario Ministry of Revenue You can find information for small business from address changes and HST to employment standards http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/en/resources/ smallbusiness/ W.E.L.E.D Email: info@weled.ca Phone: 416-242-7031 Youth Employment Partnership Phone: 416-392-0101 http://www.toronto.ca/yep/contact.htm A free service that helps connect Youth to employment

If you have any ideas and want to get involved in any of the upcoming projects, please contact info@weled.ca or info@ westendfest.com or 416–242–7031. We would love to hear from you! Resources | 15


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