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.

Humber River hospital to be sold

The Humber River Hospital on Church Street will be put up for sale in the next few weeks, according to Frances Nunziata’s email circular. The Church Street site is one of several hospital sites that will be consolidated at a new site near Keele and Wilson.

Laura Albanese will be hosting a meeting with representatives for the hospital on Thursday, April 24 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at 2175 Keele Street.

The final moving day is in October 2015.

Builder appeals city decision

A house builder is taking his case to the Ontario Municipal Board, the provincial body that sometimes overrules local planning decisions.

On March 6,  Etobicoke York  Committee of Adjustment rejected the builder’s application for 241 Pellatt Avenue. The builder was asking to “sever the property into two undersized residential lots and construct two new detached dwellings”.

The builder, 2286725 Ontario Inc, asked for 11 exceptions to bylaws, among them:

  • To build three storey houses where only two storeys are allowed
  • Taking up a larger-than-allowed proportion of the lots
  • Closer than allowed to the property line and closer than allowed to the street

The builder’s application was refused.

The Ontario Municipal Board, to which he has appealed, has a history of sometimes controversially overturning city decisions. Frances Nunziata has asked council to send a lawyer.

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The lot in 2011

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The lot this morning

 

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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Too little, too late

When Westminster United Church closed last year, the Weston Village Daycare was forced to close as well. Many parents (and citizens) wondered why that had to be so—isn’t it better, after all, to make a little money from rent rather than none at all?

Almost a year after the church shut down, it remains unsold and vacant. (Your humble correspondent thought about buying it but found the $3,850,000 asking price slightly out of reach.)

Next week, City Council will debate a motion by Paula Fletcher that would ask staff to figure out what can be done in situations like this. If passed, staff will inventory the services provided in churches and come up with options for preserving them when churches close.

New website on Kodak lands

InsideToronto and the Learning Enrichment Foundation are launching a new website to reimagine the Kodak lands. They are asking for your submissions. InsideToronto has an interesting article on the possibilities.

“The former Kodak lands are at one end of the project and we’re big believers the entire community has to be involved in their redevelopment,” he said. “We love to play a role of catalyst for community discussions.”

John Street lot expropriated

The city has expropriated the overgrown lot at 14 John Street near Peter the Barber’s shop. Interestingly, the lot was not expropriated because it was an eyesore; it was taken to make space for a “Cultural Hub”.

John Street will soon be permanently closed to traffic, and Metrolinx is building a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. The bridge, though, needs to take up some space in the parking lot on John.

That space, though, was supposed to be used for an expanded Farmers’ Market and as space for cultural activities. The lot beside was expropriated by the city to ensure that the hub would still be viable.

The city does not say how much they paid for the lot.