Premier to Metrolinx: Open UPX to commuters.

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https://www.upexpress.com/SchedulesStations/WestonStation

After waiting quietly for months while Metrolinx timidly adjusted the metaphorical deck chairs, according to the Toronto Star, Premier Kathleen Wynne has put her foot down and put all options on the table for the much unused, unpopular and unaffordable UP Express. Metrolinx has dithered for months half-heartedly making minor promotions and adjustments to increase ridership, all the while plaintively bleating that surging numbers are just around the corner. Adam certainly put paid to those notions recently but they still didn’t get the hint. Now that the Ontario Government is scouring the bushes for fresh revenue streams, the Premier seems to be thinking that it just makes sense to have hundreds of passengers paying a low fare rather than a handful at the current obscene tariffs.

For years, WestonWeb readers and writers have warned that a high price would mean low ridership. As far back as 2012, the Auditor General warned that the airport trains would be a money pit.

Let’s hope that Bruce McCuaig and his management team can hold their noses and arrive at a decent price for the trains and enable Weston (which needs a whole lot of help) to take full advantage of this resource for all the people; not just the wealthy (who declined to use it anyway). This will be a true all-day service for commuters and might take pressure off the roads as well as the TTC and make Weston an even more desirable place to live.

Kodak Lands Generator – the issues and a solution

The Kodak Lands as they currently exist.

A map of the Kodak Lands as they currently exist.

Let me add a further two cents to this debate as I have been missing in action for a while thanks to some nasty post Christmas bugs that have laid the Murray household low.

There has been some controversy over what will be placed on the Kodak Lands at Eglinton and Black Creek. There was dismay when Metrolinx announced that the site was to be a storage yard for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. More recently further disappointment was the response to the surprise announcement that an electrical generating station would be built on the lands. This would allegedly fire up in the event of a power failure. As a response, there were calls to make the generating station produce power from ‘green’ sources.

There are main three issues to the story;

  1. Whether or not a generator should be built on the former Kodak Lands
  2. The ‘greenness’ of the generator
  3. Whether there will be ’emergency only’ or a daily use of the generator

1. Let’s agree that a generator is a terrible use of the Kodak lands – it’s bad enough to have a storage yard occupy this precious green space. Unfortunately it’s likely a done deal so let’s move to the second point.

2. As I mentioned in a previous article, green power is in its infancy with the main barriers being the unreliable nature of solar and wind power. Storage is therefore needed for these unreliable and expensive green sources and even then, there would be days, especially in winter when sunlight and wind would be absent.

3. With the prospect of a daily firing up of the generator, all bets are off. A daily emission of carbon dioxide and particulate matter from burning natural gas would be produced. This would be done when electricity is at its most expensive, namely during rush hours, adding to pollution from cars and factories.

Bottom line; A generator is a bad idea. If Metrolinx is insistent on having a generator, the community should fight tooth and nail to ensure that it will be used for emergencies only. It should not be used to provide cheap electricity on a daily basis.

Solution: Large Scale Storage

With compact and reasonably priced electrical storage, a generator isn’t needed; just a series of very large battery modules that would be charged overnight when, as Adam has shown, there is oodles of very cheap industrial electricity (produced mainly from non-polluting hydro and nuclear sources). As technology stands at the moment, large scale batteries or indeed other storage methods are expensive but then, so is a gas-powered generator and the pollution it creates. Storage is expected to rapidly become cheaper as technology improves.

Bottom Line

If Metrolinx really wants a community based solution and daily, inexpensive, pollution-free electricity, the better bet would be a large scale battery that would soak up virtually free industrial electricity overnight for use in peak periods during the day. This pollution-free solution would not need to be on the Kodak Lands but could be on an industrial site anywhere along the line. This could demonstrate Metrolinx’ commitment to a greener energy, the Weston-Mount Dennis community and a willingness to adopt an exciting new technology.

I’m charged up about this.

What SmartTrack looks like

A Westonian with some mad cartographic skills has sent in a revealing map of the potential effects of Tory’s SmartTrack proposal.

He made a detailed map of the “1D” alignment, which was “brought forward following public consultations”—and pardon my plain speech, but if this is the best we can do, we’re totally fucked. Corridor 1D

Our guest cartographer added high-resolution imagery, property lines, and a conservative guess at the width of the tunnel (in red). By my count, the 1D corridor would demolish at least 51 homes, and it would certainly affect far more. The ‘tunnel’ would be made through ‘cut and cover’, which residents of Weston are quite familiar with.

Mount Denizens, take it from us: it’s not a tunnel. It’s a trench. It’s dug, not bored. You will lose your homes and your neighbourhood.

There are other possible alignments for this LRT. Some go north, through Weston, on existing corridors. Others make different (even impossible) turns onto Eglinton. There are few details available.

Our cartographer, however, who would like to remain anonymous, also threw into doubt the viability of plan 1A. It involves an awful lot of steep up-downs in a short distance to stay on the route—or, your correspondent supposes, the demolition and expropriation of property to avoid roads and bridges. Corridor 1A Google Earth

Plan 1B had “little merit” according to the planners, leaving only plan 1C to discuss. It would—brace yourself: Require widening the train corridor from Nickle to Jane (which would have an “impact” on properties, would have to be tunneled under the “industrial, residential and hospital” properties, and would cross the park on stilts. Emmett would be closed permanently. The details are not available, but I made a guess at it to give you an idea.

Bonkers

For all possible designs, there’s this to consider: “two additional parallel tracks ‘are highly likely’ to be required in the Kitchener corridor…. to allow SmartTrack to run alongside GO RER, UP Express and VIA Rail services”.

Mount Denizens and Westonians, you might usefully consider whether we need GO service, UP Express service, bus service, and SmartTrack service at the cost of homes, businesses, and neighbourhoods, or whether, perhaps, there might be a another solution.

 

Oak Street track crossing being replaced

Your humble correspondent is entirely in favour of traffic calming measures, but even he was a little put off by the under-carriage scraping track-crossing at Oak. Local mechanics are today despairing to hear that CP is, at last, making the crossing a little less outrageously a-kilter.

Debbie Camilo of Frances Nunziata’s office had this to say:

CP has informed our office that they have built a new crossing which will replace the existing one.  We are in agreement that the existing crossing is in really bad shape and are therefore happy that they have built a new one and are installing it.

Thanks to the readers who enquired.

GO Train service upgrade – it’s official.

As mentioned previously in Weston Web, an upgraded schedule to the GO Train service between Weston and Union stations has been announced by GO Transit beginning September 8. The service upgrade covers the middle of the day during weekdays. Weston Station will continue to sit idle during weekends but that will be handy for the new (temporary) Farmers Market location next year.

Inbound schedule.

GO Train Weston to Union schedule.

The return journey also fills in the middle of the day times.

Return to Weston Schedule.

GO Train Union to Weston schedule.

We can speculate about the reason for this unexpected gift from GO Transit and Metrolinx. Uncharitable folk might suggest that this is a way to dull the clamour to add stops to or lower prices on the UP Express. Here at Weston Web we recognize this as a truly magnanimous gesture that comes purely from the heart. Let’s hope that the lovin’ feeling will soon extend to weekend service.

Read the official announcement here.

All day GO Train surprise.

According to the Toronto Star’s Tess Kalinowski, Weston will enjoy off-peak GO Train service at hourly intervals after Labour Day. Readers may be aware of the commuter-oriented GO Train schedule (which operates on weekdays only).

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There are eight morning trains between Weston and Union beginning at 6:12 and ending at 9:57.

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In the evening, seven trains offer the return service between 3:30 and 6:50. Metrolinx will soon make an announcement regarding hourly train service in both directions between Union and Mount Pleasant which is one stop east of Georgetown.

This upgrade in service may be of comfort to people who would like to travel in the middle of the day outside of the traditional commute times and it will be interesting to see if there are changes to the existing train times.

The article states that the Stouffville line will see a similar upgrade later on in the year.

This upgrade to service will take some of the sting out of watching an unaffordable (and nearly empty) UP Express train service passing through Weston every fifteen minutes between Union and the airport.

That service is seven days a week, nineteen hours a day.

Metrolinx is expected to make an official announcement mid-month.

Cherri Hurst Takes Toronto Star on a Weston Tour

Local Business owner and Weston Heritage Conservation District President Cherri Hurst invited Lauren Pelley of the Toronto Star to take a tour of Weston recently and the result is a lovely article extolling many of the lovely features of Weston. Ms. Pelley asked readers to submit their favourite features of where they live – WestonWeb suggests that readers add theirs in the comments section the article.

Read the article here in today’s Star.