The Junction Triangle Rail Committee says that the provincial NDP has abandoned electrification of the ARL to save seats in northern Ontario. The NDP, the group says, has said not made electrification of the UP Express a condition of supporting the 2014 budget.
The party is afraid of a backlash in Northern Ontario if they push electrification of the West Toronto rail corridor because rail services in the North where they hold seats have been cut. Calling it ‘just a local issue,’ Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo says forcing electrification as part of the budget would be politically unwise.
The vocal downtown organization says the NDP’s decision is a “broken promise and a huge disappointment”.
The second reading of Davenport MPP Jonah Schein’s private members bill to electrify the Union Pearson Express was unable to withstand the combined vote of minority governing Liberals and opposition P.C.s. and was consequently defeated. Precisely what interest the Hudak Tories have in blocking the bill is a mystery because passing a private member’s bill would not have triggered an election. Perhaps they have their own plans for the line if they can form a government after a possible spring election. Besides, anyone looking to the Tories for cleaner air is likely a cock-eyed optimist. The Liberals’ excuse is that they have to wait for the environmental study (a.k.a. delay of game) before acting. The depressing Hansard transcript (including some lovely eye-rolling moments) is on Jonah Schein’s site.
The Canadian Transportation Authority has ordered Metrolinx to answer questions about the ongoing construction in Weston.
Mike Sullivan, our MP, lodged a complaint with the CTA this year on behalf of residents. The CTA has asked Metrolinx to make clear what construction is happening, when it is going on, how much noise is being generated, how the noise is being mitigated, and whether Metrolinx has studied the noise.
If the CTA finds that the railway noise is unreasonable, it can order Metrolinx to make changes. The CTA will make its decision by mid-March.
Metrolinx will be conducting a vibration test to see if the tracks should be padded to reduce rumbling in the neighbourhood. Seven tests of about five minutes each will be performed over the next week in three locations around Weston.
Mount Dennis will be getting “ballast mats”—rubbery mats that line the track bed to absorb some of the rumbling. Perhaps if I can get than nincompoop who parks outside my house with his stereo on to head down to Church Street at the right time next week, we’ll get ballast mats too.
In other construction news, Metrolinx will be undertaking another series of ‘continuous pours’. The pours are required to ensure the concrete sets as one slab. More cement trucks than usual will be entering and leaving, and some construction will be taking place during the night
The Kodak lands at Black Creek Drive and Eglinton have sat empty for many years. Speculation regarding the future of this property has been a constant since Kodak sold it to developers Metrus for $19.5 million in 2006. Metrus sat on the property until 2012 then sold it for a cool $48 million to Metrolinx (yes, we’re all in the wrong business). When an announcement finally came about developing the property, many residents were dismayed to learn that plans were to make it the home of a maintenance and storage facility (MSF) for light-rail vehicles that will (Ford brothers permitting) be using the Eglinton LRT Crosstown Line.
The Kodak recreation building.
Metrolinx sees Mount Dennis and specifically the Kodak lands as a future transit hub that will provide links to GO, the U.P. Express and the crosstown line. Their vision includes an LRT line incorporating the old Kodak Recreation building and the Scotiabank building at Weston and Eglinton as well as new parkland and the contentious storage facility. The Toronto Star has an article that dwells on the heritage aspects of the site.
Once citizens heard of the new plans for the site, many were dismayed by the stark vision offered by what seemed to be a marshalling yard. Instead of generating jobs and perhaps providing parkland and a retail component, the site seemed destined to have a grim future. Protests were registered resulting in Toronto’s Executive Committee updating a series of ‘principles’ that were passed by the full council yesterday (October 8th). These principles can be summarized as follows:
Consider a broad range of uses for the site rather than just an MSF.
Minimize the land used by the MSF while maximizing development elsewhere.
Seek further input from a broader section of the community.
If future MSF needs decrease, explore appropriate alternative uses.
Preserve existing ‘employment lands’ especially along Industry Drive.
Use innovative ways of accommodating grade differentials of the site.
Create seamless transitions between the site and adjacent areas.
Employ professionals to use excellence in design throughout.
Preserve and incorporate the Kodak recreation building and the Scotiabank premises at Weston and Eglinton into plans for the site.
These changes have been effected through direct citizen involvement in the political process. With a civic election due next year, now is an ideal time to keep applying the pressure. Although Metrolinx is fond of telling everyone they are a provincial agency and not obliged to listen, the Liberals are in no position to have another contentious issue on their plates.
Metrolinx will be doing two more of its big pours over the next two days. The continuous concrete pours are to create a one-piece foundation for the Weston tunnel, and are, surprisingly, quite low key affairs considering the scale of the procedure. Still, there will be increased traffic of cement trucks and gawking boys around Windall and John streets.
The pouring began around 1 in the morning today and will end tomorrow at 7 pm.
A landmark at a familiar and painful bottleneck is gone. The old Weston Road bridge dated from 1924 and was a familiar sight for generations. According to Metrolinx, it was demolished because of its ‘age and poor condition’. It certainly won no prizes for architectural beauty. Watch the Metrolinx time-lapse video of its destruction which took place on September 7th and 8th.