A kinder gentler Ford Nation?

Michael Ford.
Michael Ford. Photo from Twitter.

The death of former Toronto Mayor and Ward 2 councillor Rob Ford created a vacancy which was filled last night by his 22 year-old nephew, the former Michael Stirpe. Last year Mr. Ford legally switched to the more recognizable maiden name of his mother Kathy and hasn’t looked back since. He won a trustee seat in the 2014 civic election and now this.

The by-election wasn’t close; Ford was pitted against an assorted collection of mostly fringe candidates and swatted them aside with almost 70% of the vote. By-election voting numbers are usually low and this was no exception. Ten-thousand fewer people bothered to turn up compared to last time and indeed, in 2014, Rob Ford alone garnered more votes than all candidates combined in 2106.

Mr. Ford campaigning yesterday supported by former Tory MPs Julian Faction (R) and Ted Opitz (L foreground)
Mr. Ford (centre) campaigning yesterday aided by former Tory MPs Julian Fantino (R rear) and Ted Opitz (L centre). Photo from Twitter.

What can we expect from young Mr. Ford? Will he join the ranks of the Mammolitis and Di Cianos to be another right-wing vote on Council? The answer is probably yes. Mr. Ford presents as a thoughtful young man who appears to be in favour of social justice; yet, in spite of huge levels of poverty in Ward 2 that approach those of our adjacent Ward 12, Mr. Ford spouts the same idiotic mantra of lower property taxes. This is precisely the misguided policy that leads to cutting services that benefit poor people the most.

Only time will tell if Mr. Ford will learn the reality of Toronto politics and understand the need for local politicians to focus on maintaining services and providing opportunities for people to pull themselves out of poverty. Other desirable traits, sadly lacking in many councillors are to act for the betterment of the whole city, defer to good planning and help the weak.

Will he become yet another friend of the development industry and an enemy of services that help level the playing field for the less fortunate – or will he realize that keeping property taxes low only helps the rich and reduces social mobility?

There may be hope that he’ll be a thoughtful, progressive and hard-working councillor. Let’s focus on that for now.

Kodak Lands Gas Generator is dead.

Judith Hayes (centre) gets ready to host the residents' meeting.
Judith Hayes (centre) gets ready to host the residents’ meeting.

Mount Dennis Residents’ Association held an information meeting last night at the York Civic Centre. Several speakers were in attendance as well as Provincial Citizenship and Immigration Minister Laura Albanese and Toronto Councillors Frances Nunziata and Frank Di Giorgio. Also of note, in the audience was a small contingent of attentive young people from the For Youth Initiative.

The meeting was held to discuss the 18MW natural gas generator proposed by Metrolinx to be used in power outages on the new Eglinton Crosstown Line as well as a cheaper source of energy during peak periods.

For the first part of the meeting, several speakers discussed greener methods of power generation and conservation.

Once the floor was opened to residents’ questions, the most pertinent comment came in response MDCA’s Rick Ciccarelli. He asked the City’s Fernando Carou (Community Energy Planning) for confirmation that Metrolinx has withdrawn its site plan application for a gas generator on the Kodak Lands. He then asked what is now being planned. Carou replied that the application has indeed been withdrawn and that Metrolinx and Toronto Hydro are currently working on more environmentally acceptable ways of providing back-up power.

According to the politicians present at the meeting, a further announcement will be forthcoming in about a month and that residents will be consulted on any further proposals.

Interestingly, one of the speakers, Jason Rioux, Vice President of NRSTOR, confirmed that battery storage is capable of providing emergency power and that instead of using one site, several smaller battery modules could be installed along the crosstown line. This would provide more efficiency during a power outage and would eliminate the need for a large building on the Kodak lands site. The batteries would be charged at night with cheap electricity while trains weren’t running.

For now, residents can breathe a sigh of relief. The generator is off the table. Well done to all involved who applied political pressure to ensure this option was eliminated and to the politicians who responded to the people’s wishes. It remains to be seen what Metrolinx will come up with next but according to the politicians present, people will be consulted on any new proposals. A further announcement will be forthcoming in about a month.

Province nixes texting ban for street walkers.

Councillor Frances Nunziata’s questionable motion (see Adam’s article) to request a change to the Highway Traffic Act was quickly given the bum’s rush by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. Officials at the Ontario Government must find such motions trying (but probably not as trying as the City’s transportation flip-flops over the past few years). Minister Del Duca correctly pointed out that City Council has the power to pass by-laws; something the good councillor may have overlooked in the zeal to take the issue to a higher level.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.08.42 PM
From radio times.com

Ms Nunziata’s motion passed by a startling 26 votes to 15 and one can only surmise that during the vote, many councillors were texting and weren’t paying close attention. Council motions and votes these days are as unpredictable and logical as tossing a coin; although citizens can be assured that whenever a council motion is passed, it may well:

  • fly in the face of common sense,
  • appease a vested interest and
  • demonstrate the bizarre thinking powers of its proponents

I believe a proposal to license pedestrians may be coming up soon. Stay tuned.

Bike licensing up for debate

Here’s an idea: take something everyone has loved since childhood: an activity that is wonderful, fun, cheap, good for the community and the environment—and charge people to do it. But don’t stop there: get the cops off of the crime beat. Get them ticketing people on bikes—and make every kid on wheels fear the cops.

City Council will consider bike licensing again next week. They’ve already considered it thrice in the past, rejecting it each time on the grounds that

  • Each license would cost as much as a bike
  • Kids ride bikes
  • The city does not have the jurisdiction
  • Cops have better things to do
  • It doesn’t reduce poor cycling
  • It discourages something great



City to Metrolinx: What’s the plan with the gas plants?

Tomorrow, City Council will ask Metrolinx, Crosslinx, and Toronto Hydro to clarify their plans for the gas plant at the Kodak lands: Will it be used only in emergencies, or also when electrical prices are high?

This is a very good question, and one Metrolinx should have answered some time ago. They said:

The gas-fired plant would probably only be used a “handful” of times a year as a back-up generator, according to Metrolinx.

It would have the capacity to run the entire Crosstown system to avoid peak demand times on the provincial power grid and save about 40 per cent on the price of electricity. It would also generate enough power to run the entire Crosstown system in a power outage, said a spokesman for the agency.

However, those two points don’t agree with each other.  40% price swings occur every day (even your residential energy prices double weekdays).

Price swings over the past 7 days
Price swings over the past 7 days

A final answer to this question will either galvanize or relieve Mount Denizens, many of whom have been opposed, quite reasonably, to a power plant in their community.

Hussen defends refugees

Ahmed Hussen, our MP, spoke in the House this week about the deaths of 400 refugee-applicants off the shore of Italy.

He said “I urge Canada to provide leadership and work with our international partners to ensure that those fleeing persecution have safe passage to countries that guarantee them the protection they are entitled to under international law.”

Quite so.

Last month he was pleased to meet the Turkish autocrat Erdoğan, whose government in February locked out  35,000 Syrian refugees fleeing bombardment.