More promises about electification

The UP Express will be the first part of the transit system to be electrified, Bruce McCuaig, the CEO of Metrolinx, said again last week in a meeting with reporters. Electrification could begin as early as next year.

The Premier and the Minister of Transportation also said that they would be investing hugely into all areas of transit, promising 15-minute service and electrification of all GO trains over the next 10 years. If they are re-elected.

They did not say, however, how much all this will cost or where the money will come from. And the Liberals have for months been filibustering a cross-party committee attempt to reveal how much money the UP Express will lose. I’ve learned from my wife that when someone won’t even lie to you about how much something costs, it cost a lot more than you’d like to hear.

YHC is not a betting man, but I’d lay money on this: after the apologia of the PanAm games has passed, the Liberals (if they remain in power) will announce with great fanfare the electrification and conversion of the UP Express into a regional transit line with more stops and lower fares.

It will remain a mess, and incompatible with the rest of the transit system, but faced with having to justify spending buckets of money on the downtown elite, they will have to do something to appear both more fiscally conservative and populist. And the expensive debacle of the Blue22, Air Rail Link, UP Express Weston Line will be fantastic for Weston. At long last.

Job vacancy goes begging

Beginning in October, there’s a great job up for grabs in the York South-Weston area. It pays $105,397 annually with an option to renew every four years. it also has generous benefits, expenses and severance payments. In addition, to ease the workload, the successful candidate has a staff budget of $224,264.25 to hire up to four assistants and if that’s not enough, an aide (summer student) for the summer.

The job itself involves irregular hours but offers great opportunities to improve the lives of thousands of people. You must be a Canadian citizen and either live or own property in Toronto. It costs $100 to apply. While it would be helpful to be a team player, apparently it’s not essential.

To make the job even easier to get, only about 40% of the people who are trusted with the all-important hiring decision ever bother to show up. This means that you need to convince just over 20% that you are the right person for the job.

Only one person has held the job in various forms since 1988 and as of April 4, 2014, that person has no challengers.

If Weston Web readers know any suitable candidates for this very attractive job, perhaps they would be kind enough and forward this article to them.

Council asks for rail oversight

A council motion seconded by Frances Nunziata asks Transport Canada to review the CP Line that runs through Weston and ensure that it is safe and in good repair.

Council is also asking Transport Canada to look at alternative modes of transporting hazardous materials and to consider re-routing trains carrying hazardous materials to keep them out of town.

The motion sprung from the Lac Megantic disaster, in which dozens were killed and a village downtown destroyed after railcars carrying petroleum exploded. CN does not reveal how often dangerous goods are transported through Toronto—but 7% of railcars in Hamilton are.

Feds give $500,000 to local organization

The federal government has given $500,000 to a local youth organization to pursue an anti-gang initiative:

Justice Minister Peter MacKay made the announcement Thursday at For Youth Initiative, the agency that will run the three-year project to reintegrate and support youth who have been involved in the criminal justice system or in gangs in Weston-Mount Dennis.

“This organization is making a real difference in the community,” MacKay said of FYI, which mentors and supports at-risk youth. “It takes leadership, commitment and tremendous personal effort.”

Read more.

Cultural hub announced

Weston will be getting a ‘cultural hub’, Frances Nunziata announced earlier this week.

33 King will be redeveloped to hold an 8500 square foot cultural space and 24 artists’ live-work spaces. Much of the parking lot will become a residential apartments—townhomes and an 18 storey tower.

The abandoned lot to the east was recently expropriated and will now be turned into a much smaller parking lot. The farmers’ market will shift a little east toward the tracks.

Artscape, who did a fantastic job of the Wychwood barns on St Clair, and who have made a number of other excellent artists’ spaces around the city, will be behind the project, and Rockport Group will be the developers.

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Sullivan picks up the slack left by the city.

Mike Sullivan says he went to his councillor for help; got nowhere and ended up doing the job himself.

After the latest storm to hit York South-Weston, a political one may be brewing. While out canvassing on march 14, Sullivan observed that the only working sidewalk under the Lawrence Avenue rail bridge was in a dangerous condition. Federal Member of Parliament Mike Sullivan is the opposition deputy critic for persons with disabilities and thought that even with the stretched resources of the city, after two days, something should have been done. According to Sullivan, he left a message with his councillor Frances Nunziata and after waiting a few hours with no action, Sullivan and his assistant Branden Valente did the job themselves. Sullivan described the process in the video below and is openly critical of the level of service given to York South-Weston which is a Priority Neighbourhood. While there’s no love lost between the two representatives, Sullivan’s action will resonate with those who feel that York South-Weston has been neglected for years.

More stalling from Liberals

A provincial request to Metrolinx to hand over information about the business case for the UP Express was once again blocked by Liberal members of the committee that could order it. They likely fear there is no business case, and the report will embarrass the government.

Liberals Mike Colle and Mitzie Hunter clintoned their way into a committee filibuster by saying, more or less, “Define ‘market’ exactly” again and again for 40 minutes when Rosario Marchese asked Metrolinx to produce the market study. A representative sample:

What is a market study? Is it a look at the impact and the reaction and the response by people living in the old town of Weston as relates to the air-rail link and the local BIAs there, the residents and the BIAs and what their uptake will be on the potential ridership etc.? Do you want all the background information undertaken by all the examinations of the impact this would have on Weston? Because there was a very complex situation there where there used to be a net grade crossing, and they have now had to go with a tunnelling alternative. So it’s been a very, very difficult transition in that determination of putting some tunnelling in the old town of Weston that the local residents and the local small businesses wanted. Is that part of the market study? I don’t know….

 

This kind of grad-school metaphysical crap-talking has been going on for months as the committee tries to block the release of the documents that, we can assume, will embarrass the government right before an election.  Colle and Hunter were helped by the Chair of the committee who ran down the clock so that the motion couldn’t be passed.

The Liberals, having faced the gas plant scandal, must be worried that their plans to build an expensive money-losing train for the 1% will cost them seats. As well it should.

Marchese brought up the committee wheel-spinning at Queen’s Park—and instead of taking the moral high ground, went after Glen Murray, the Minister. Marchese asked what Murray was afraid we would find in the report. Finding that went nowhere, he asked the Minster to crack his whip on the committee—and got a filthy misdirection and character assassination from the Minister instead of an answer.

Your humble correspondent is a civil servant. His wife is a civil servant. YHC knows the good work that government can do. And this is not the good work of government. This is repugnant, unprincipled, cowardly opacity and self-protection. This is the work of an unfit government using process to protect itself from facts.

When it prevents this report—or any report—from public scrutiny, this government is saying that its seats are more important than the truth. The government is saying that it doesn’t trust you, its employer, to judge it by the facts.

Laura Albanese, our MPP, sits on this committee. She has done nothing to further the filibuster—or to end it.

 

http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/committee-proceedings/committee_transcripts_details.do?locale=en&Date=2014-03-04&ParlCommID=8959&BillID=&Business=Agency+review%3A+Metrolinx&DocumentID=27745