Weston C.I. wins Best Buddies award.

Best Buddies is a Canada-wide program that pairs up the same-aged students of differing abilities. These partnerships grow into friendships and are mutually beneficial. On Thursday, February 11, an assembly at the school demonstrated the strength and depth of those relationships.

Executive Director of Best Buddies Canada, Steven Pinnock was there to honour Weston Collegiate Institute‘s successful implementation of the program over the past six years. Program buddies are paired for each school year and contact each other weekly and meet socially at least twice a month. Larger meetings of the whole chapter are held to discuss issues and to plan events.

W.C.I. was also honoured for being in the top 25 programs out of 450 chapters nationwide in Canada. Youth worker, Nancy Marshall co-ordinates Best Buddies at the school and thanked the many members of staff who lend their time to supporting the program as well as events and field trips. Pinnock thanked Ms. Marshall for her leadership and the staff for their hard work in making the program run so successfully at the school. Best Buddies Special Events Director, Emily Bolyea–Kyere spoke glowingly about the outstanding work done at W.C.I. and how well the school is regarded throughout the organization.

Students spoke movingly about the program and the impact it has made on their school lives; many calling the friends made through the program as close as family members. Having sat through many an assembly in a former life, I can attest to rarely being as impressed (and moved) as I was today. Well done to Ms. Marshall and participating staff and students at W.C.I.

DSC03151

Best Buddies participants 2015-16. 3rd from left, Executive Director Steven Pinnock. Far right, Principal Ian Botnick. Next to him, Nancy Marshall. Far right, seated Emily Bolyea-Kyere. Click to enlarge.

 

Man murdered at Gucci’s Bar and Grill

A young man was murdered and another was injured last night outside Gucci’s Bar and Grill, at Jane and Lawrence. Kiowa Wind McComb, 20, was stabbed after an altercation in the bar spread outside; another person was found near Merrill and Patika and taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Gucci's

Gucci’s

Police arrested Andre Appleton, 35, in a taxi. They are searching for an accomplice, of whom they have pictures, and are asking any witnesses to help.

The victim, Kiowa McComb, worked as an intern at the ROM. He was originally from the Orillia area.

Nunziata speaks on church for sale

Frances Nunziata has clarified the status of the 150-year-old Weston Road church that is up for sale. St John’s Anglican, which is listed in the Heritage Properties database, is not a designated heritage property. It is for sale for $1,650,000.

From Realtor.ca

Nunziata says

A listed building is protected from demolition by a part of the Ontario Heritage Act that requires an owner to provide the City with a minimum of 60 days advance notice of an intention to demolish, at which point Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) would then initiate the process to have the property given heritage designation. HPS has been notified that the land is now up for sale and they will be monitoring the address.

Weston Cultural Hub asking for clients

Artscape is looking for tenants for the new Weston Hub. They are asking for “expressions of interest” from program providers and prospective tenants. 

It’s all a bit complicated, but they say that this is not a rental application. It seems to be an application to apply. Still, if you are interested, you should have at it.

Your humble correspondent would like to see a business lounge, drone flying area, indoor park, brewery, and bakery. You can call me a dreamer.

Humber River Regional Hospital – the drama continues

humber-river

The new Humber River Regional Hospital.

When the Church Street campus of the Humber River Regional Hospital closed, the community had mixed feelings. On the one hand, the Hospital had since 2007, transformed itself from the second most dangerous hospital in the country into one that was within acceptable limits. On the other, although the neighbourhood facility was a community asset, a brand new facility promised to improve patient care using state of the art equipment and communications.

Now, there are ominous rumblings that the new incarnation may be a cause for concern. The Teamsters Union, which represents cleaning staff at HRRH, has issued a list of safety issues that include:

  • Traces of blood, urine and other bodily fluids can be found throughout the hospital, usually on the floor.
  • Rodents have been observed in the hospital.
  • Feces, urine and other bodily fluids can’t be cleaned properly because the (hospital issued) micro-fibre mops aren’t made to wash certain surfaces.

Right from a sci-fi novel, another of the complaints refers to robots having first dibs on the elevators. The full list is here.

The union is engaged in a bit of a death struggle with the hospital which has begun contracting out cleaning to a company that pays about half of what hospital cleaners make. Let’s hope the obsession with cost cutting won’t lead to safety or quality of care issues for patients and staff.

Read more in this Toronto Star article.

How much is the UPX losing? $122,000 a day.

A detail from Adrian Morrow allows us to estimate with accuracy the least amount of money the UP Express is losing. It’s a lot: $122,000 a day, or $45,700,000 a year—and that is a very conservative estimate.

Morrow says that the train costs $68,000,000 a year to run, and we know that about 803,000 people take it a year. If each passenger pays the full fare, $29¹, then the train generates $23,287,000 in revenue every year. Subtract the latter from the former, and you get a $45,649,000 loss.

That means that moving each passenger costs the province about $56.


¹ This is the conservative part: many people use the discounted Presto fare. Some people do not take it all the way to Pearson; others do not start at Union.

UP Express: tipping point

With Premier Wynne putting the pain on Metrolinx, your correspondent feels like we have reached a tipping point. The UPX is bleeding money. It is far from reaching its ridership targets, and miles from paying for itself. Something must be done. But what?

RidershipScratch public transit as usually defined; the trains cannot be used elsewhere in the city, and will (for now at least) have only four stops. A train to the airport should be defended, too; it is a fine idea even in the Über age.

It also only makes sense to now maintain the premium service. With cash haemorrhaging, Ontarians need to get as many moneyed “elite business travellers” on board as we can. We need at the same time, though, to get the rabble on, and to get them paying the bills.

How can this be done?

Metrolinx knows the answer: price discrimination. Charge the rich more, the poor less, and fill those trains up!

There are many ways to do it. Trips to Pearson could cost much more than trips between Union, Bloor, Weston, and the projected Mount Dennis station. A trip from Weston to downtown should cost about $10; this is more than the GO ($6), but much less than $22 charged now. Going to Pearson? Tough noogies: $25.

Is this unfair? No more unfair than airport improvement fees, fuel surcharges, or the jerk who stuffs a suitcase into carry-on. Travel is full of indignities; one more won’t hurt much.

This might seem to discourage local travellers from taking the train to Pearson, but savvy ones could manage. Advance or Presto purchases could be discounted (more than they currently are, however), or tickets could be sold in a discounted bundle of 5. Locals would catch wind and plan trips out.

Would it bother the haughty to rub with the hoi polloi? Then don’t let them! Borrow an idea from the golden age of rail (but lose the stupid uniforms from the same era): travel classes. Put Pearson travellers in one train car (where all 14 of them¹ would fit with room to spare). Put local travellers in the other car. We won’t let them know that we’re having more fun in the back.

This plan could even save face for Metrolinx. They could maintain that they’ve met their objective: a pampering service for that elusive elite business traveller². Now, though, as a gesture of good will, they are opening access to all Torontonians. They could brand it as ‘ride sharing’, because, you know, the sharing economy thing is cool. Like MSN.

But instead of doing the smart thing, or the right thing, Metrolinx is the same, dumb thing: giving free rides for a little while, under the mistaken belief that if people just tried it, they would like the UP Express.
Metrolinx: people won’t. Nobody wants to spend their weekend riding your train just to see what it’s like. They want to spend it with their families or sweethearts. And dear, dear Metrolinx, a word? Use economics instead of branding. If your model was ever good,³ the market changed while you were building. Über increased the supply of transit; that lowered prices. Time marched on.

Time marched on, but the uniforms didn’t. I’m itchy just looking at the them. Were they made from Soviet blankets?

This could be a time for change: the UPX—which caused so much disruption, pollution, expense, and waste in Weston—could, at long last, be put to good use.
If only we could get Metrolinx to listen.

¹ Yes, that’s how many people take the train.
² The elite business traveller without an Über app on her smartphone.
³ It wasn’t.