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First Annual Weston Jane’s Walk
May 2, 2009


Jane’s Walk participants at the corner of Elm and William Streets, Weston

All Photo courtesy of Phil Keirstead

Pennsylvania born Jane Jacobs (1919-2006), an influential writer and urban activist, believed that modern municipal planning policies, such as urban renewal and mass transportation corridors, have been responsible for isolating and destroying inner-city communities. Her definitive book, Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), championed a return to community based urban planning. She called for the rehabilitation, rather than the destruction, of older neighbourhoods. She also supported mixing residential and commercial land uses to create interesting and intimate “human” environments. Jacobs moved to Toronto in 1968 where, among other things, she successfully fought Toronto’s proposed Spadina Expressway. She was invested with the Order of Canada in 1998.

Since her passing in 2006, thousands have participated in free annual walking tours in urban neighbourhoods throughout North America to honour her memory. Jane’s Walk organizers design the routes to maximum advantage, to illustrate the many facets of urban life.

This year’s inaugural Weston Jane’s Walk was no exception. Organized by Weston resident Sari Jn-Francois, the tour attracted more than fifty participants. At a series of carefully planned stops, local residents spoke to the opportunities, as well as the difficulties associated with living in Weston.

Sari set the stage, introducing participants to the Jane’s Walk concept. She described why she organized the walk and what she hoped we would learn from it.

Mike Sullivan and Sari Jn-Francois (center of photo)

Next, Mike Sullivan, Chair of the Weston Community Coalition drew attention to the effort by community groups along the Georgetown rail corridor to rein in a much publicized provincial plan to permit massive increases in local rail traffic.

   

Cherri Hurst discusses Weston’s heritage, architecture and river stone walls

Cherri Hurst, President of the Weston Heritage Conservation District, told participants about Weston’s rich history and heritage and described the ongoing Weston Village Phase 2 Heritage Conservation District Study.

   

Participants learn about Weston’s magnificent heritage homes.


   

   

Beside the Weston Public Library, Weston resident Diana Stapleton spoke of the benefits of living in Weston’s culturally rich, multi-ethnic environment. When we reached Weston road, Suri Weinberg-Linski, owner of Squibb’s Stationers, described Weston’s business district. She talked of the difficulty that small business owners face as they attempt to cope with the fast changing and highly competitive economic climate.

 

Little Avenue Memorial Park – a community meeting place - site of Weston’s Cenotaph and band shell


 

During the longest stop on the walking tour, beside the Humber River, participants were told of the poverty and social problems afflicting many in Weston. Then, at Weston’s Frontlines community centre, they learned how a dedicated group of residents is working with Weston’s disadvantaged youth to improve their lives and prospects.

Weston Jane’s Walk was as inspiring as it was enlightening. The Weston Heritage Conservation District is deeply grateful to the organizers and participants.


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