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Food-friendly Neighbourhood Plan: Weston-Mt. Dennis
Area: 7.5 sq km
Median after-tax income: $38,900
% low income after-tax: 24.5%
(City of Toronto/2006 Census)
Detailed area profile
About this neighbourhood
Weston-Mt. Dennis is one of 13 priority neighbourhoods in Toronto. Located in the west end, the distinct communities of Weston and Mount Dennis have a shared history as former industrial centres which have welcomed diverse new residents in recent years. A rail corridor provides the eastern boundary of this neighbourhood and the Humber River runs through its centre. Key landmarks include Eglinton Flats and Weston's historic downtown.
There are a number of large supermarkets and smaller grocers, but accessibility and prices are concerns. Many residents reported that they do most of their shopping at Dollarama, even though many of the retail grocers are closer.
There used to be a Price Chopper near Weston Rd and Lawrence Ave West, an absence that has been felt by residents. Additionally, the southwest section of the priority area does not have any nearby retailers.
The Weston Farmers’ Market has operated for 32 years and BlogTO has ranked it one of the best in Toronto. However, low income community members feel that prices are too high.
The Learning Enrichment Foundation has recently partnered with FoodShare to create a Good Food Market. This provides high-quality, affordable fruits and vegetables and creates additional public food space.
The neighbourhood already has a strong farmers' market but it is not accessible for residetns wtih low-income. Other neighbourhoods can provide models for how to improve the accessibility of this market.
For example, the Stonegate Market in southeast Etobicoke is a successful example of a joint venture between the local community health centre and a neighbourhood food action team. It offers “market money” for community members with low-income.
Two food banks and a number of drop-in meal programs are located along Weston Rd. While there are many options available, participants feel that the programs are overcrowded which can lead to an uncomfortable environment. For example, Weston Area Emergency Support, the largest food bank in the area, operates out of the back of the Frontlines building. They often see 60-80 people each day that they open, most of whom must wait outside to be served.
The Weston Area Emergency Support food bank is overcrowded and needs a larger space. Opportunities for an alternative location should be examined.
Who should be involved:
- Ward 11 Councillor Nuniziata
- York-South Weston MPP Albanese
- Toronto Community Housing
- Local community organizations
Food Skills and Growing
There are a number of community gardens and community kitchen programs operating in this neighbourhood, but outreach is limited and many residents do not know about them.
Residents have expressed an interest in these programs, particularly for adults, illustrating a great disconnect between the services offered and residents’ knowledge of local resources.
Create a "Food Action Team" for Weston-Mt. Dennis to facilitate better coordination and planning around food. Food Action Teams in other neighbourhoods have been successful in bringing about new food programming and addressing other local food issues.
Who should be involved:
- Community organizations working with food
- City of Toronto, Community Development Officer
- United Way Toronto Action for Neighbourhood Change