Kodak Building to be relocated.

The Kodak Building as it looked in March 2012. (file photo)
The Kodak Building as it looked in March 2012. (file photo)

All 3000 tonnes of the long neglected Kodak recreation building will be moved next Thursday to a new location on the site. The idea is that the building will be preserved as one of the three new entrances to the future Mount Dennis Station. The station will be part of the Crosstown LRT line opening in 2021. The move will take about 90 minutes and a viewing stand will be available from which spectators may watch the whole event.

Later in the morning at 11:30, a community barbecue will serve food until 2:00 pm. Shuttle buses will pick spectators up from the No Frills parking lot every 30 minutes between 8:30 am and 2:30 pm.

Shuttle bus pick-up point.
Shuttle bus pick-up point.

For more information, call the West Crosstown Community Office at (416) 782-8118

The Future of UP Express

 

A UPX train. Note the difference between the UPX platform and the adjacent GO train platform. (File)
A UPX train. Note the difference between the UPX platform and the (foreground) GO train platform. (File)

Officials at Metrolinx are looking over their shoulders after the unprecedented intervention by the Premier in forcing a rapid and substantial revision of UPX fares. When the Premier has lost patience in your effectiveness, other questions from the top may follow, such as, ‘Where else are they screwing up?’, and, ‘How many people did it take to make that idiotic decision?’

It doesn’t take much digging to uncover their inadequacies. Whether it’s the inability to coordinate a VIA Rail stop in Weston or their continued insistence that UPX needs to recover its investment, management has shown that they have a tenuous hold on the idea of serving the people (watch the most recent Board Meeting to get the idea) while ignoring the realities of transportation in the GTHA. The lack of a unified fare structure between TTC, UPX and GO and the failure to connect the UPX Bloor Station to the Dundas West TTC Subway station also come to mind.

Even before the outrageous fares were set, the whole idea of a boutique rail line serving business professionals was simply a non-starter. Back in 2012, WestonWeb asked,

Can you imagine captains of industry schlepping their own bags along miles of platform at either end and onto a train?

Captains of industry want to be carried (preferably in a limo) from door to door and don’t care about the cost as long as they get a receipt.

WestonWeb was not alone in predicting a tough time for UPX. Mike Sullivan, the Clean Train Coalition and many others voiced their concerns but the experts knew better. One wonders about the high priced consultants (expert experts) that Metrolinx was tapping into. How did they all get it so wrong?

UPX President Kathy Haley (screenshot from February 23rd Board Meeting )
UPX President Kathy Haley (screenshot from February 23rd Board Meeting )

No doubt there needs to be a scapegoat and according to media reports it’s likely to be UPX President Kathy Haley who was given the impossible task of making an unviable service financially self-sustaining. Her cheerleading for the service rang more and more hollow in recent days as evidence mounted that while people would clamour for a free ride, they weren’t prepared to pay more than a TTC or at worst a GO fare. Metrolinx head, Bruce McCuaig and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca bear some of the responsibility for their stubborn expectation of the impossible.

What should be the future of UP Express?

The first should be a recognition that this is truly public transit and like all public transit should not be expected to recoup its cost. There are reports that the service will be pulled under the GO Train umbrella and that would seems likely given the recent fare alignment with GO. Regardless of the overhead, in this day of electronic fares, there are attendants galore and a ticket inspector on every train. Some re-deployment of staff to other GO positions would no doubt cut down on costs.

Will the lower price increase ridership? Probably, but the trains will not be full even at the new fare structure. Many people have suggested that the train be made part of the ever changing SmartTrack plan with additional stations along the way. An obvious site is Mount Dennis where a Crosstown Line station will be located. One problem needing a solution is the high platform of the UPX (see photo above). Regardless, many communities along the line would also welcome a quick commute to Union Station. That is likely the future for UPX but for now, Weston residents can bask in a fast (14 minute) service to and from Union every 15 minutes.

Transit Planning Meeting

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There’s a lot going on in Toronto transit-wise and especially in our neck of the woods. Six meetings are being held across the city to discuss transit – the closest will be at Richview Collegiate this Saturday.

Come and hear the latest transit ideas, updates on transit planning and construction going on throughout the city and contribute opinions on the direction the city, Metrolinx and the TTC should be taking. No doubt there will be considerable interest in the new UP Express fares as well as electrification of GO Trains.

  • Date: Saturday February 20
  • Place: Richview Collegiate, 1739 Islington Avenue
  • Time: 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Update:

Frances Nunziata says “My office has organized one to be held at the York Civic Centre on Feb. 29th at 7 pm.”

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.