Park Construction Update.

Our local parks are undergoing a variety of transformations. In Raymore Park, rehabilitation of the retaining wall staging area is well under way,  a new off-leash area has been set up while sewer re-lining along the Humber is still likely to take a few more months.

Rehabilitation work continues after the Raymore Park retaining wall construction. New trees have been planted this week.

In Lions Park, heavy vehicles undertaking sewer work have destroyed the bike path and cones have been placed to warn cyclists and pedestrians.

Heavy construction vehicles have destroyed the dedicated bike / pedestrian path near the Raymore footbridge.

In Cruickshank Park, stabilization work is taking place that will prevent further erosion of the TCHC property at 1025 Scarlett Road. At the moment a bridge is being used to access the site and the walkway through the park has been blocked in order for the work to proceed. The end date is set for next month but judging by the current state of construction, that looks extremely optimistic and unlikely.

1025 Scarlett Road from the Weston side showing the bank stabilization work.
The temporary bridge allows access to the work from the Weston side.

Needless to say, the bike / pedestrian trail (Humber Trail / Pan Am Path) needs to be re-paved. When this will happen is anyone’s guess but all work involving heavy construction vehicles will have to be finished no doubt. Construction projects seem to take longer than advertised in this part of Toronto for some reason. Anyway, probably not this year. This will mean some tough sledding for walkers and cyclists for quite some time. One good thing is that the replacement path, when it finally gets here, will be built wider to meet new city standards.

Bike to work day

May 29 will be Toronto’s Bike to Work day. Take it from me, there’s no better way to feel like a mad (and healthy) anarchist than to take two wheels to work.

Traffic jam on the Humber Trail
Traffic jam on the Humber Trail

Despite a few quite notable shortcomings, Weston has a really blessed location for commuters up for a beautiful, if leisurely, ride. Wendell connects to bike paths heading north; the Humber River Trail carries hundreds of riders west and south every day. East and southeast are, I admit, a struggle–but I am quite convinced that demand creates its own supply: if we demand better connections to the city, we will get them.

Your correspondent is always delighted to help with route planning, bike shop tips, and even with free repairs. Just drop a comment if you need a hand.

 

New library programs

The Weston Public Library has a bunch of great new programs to celebrate Canada’s 150th.

The Made in Canada program is for kids 6 and up. Children will be building Canadian-themed Lego creations.

For Good Morning Canada!, your rugrats will be working on a Canadian mural.

Finally, you and yours can take part in the Learn to Camp program with hosts from Parks Canada.

All the programs are, of course, free.

Missing man: Fernando Matias

The police are looking for a missing man:

Fernando Matias, 58, was last seen in the evening hours of Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in the Jane Street and Lawrence Avenue West area.

He is described as 5’4”, 130-140 lbs., brown eyes, medium build, grey hair, receding hairline with bald patch in back, unshaven, possibly wearing a blue golf shirt, tan pants, brown dress shoes, black belt.

Weston Buskerfest coming July 29.

From Torontovka.com

The Weston Business Improvement Area posted an online survey asking residents what kind of summer festival the BIA should organize. Respondents overwhelmingly opted for a buskerfest. A date is set for Saturday July 29th and the BIA is booking ‘top buskers from other buskerfests as well as some local talent for what promises to be a great event’. Since it’s the first year, streets will not be closed. Instead, the event will focus on roaming performers and sites with sidewalk space such as 1901 Weston and the TD Bank. This year the BIA will sponsor the event and if successful, a sponsor will be sought for next year.

In other Weston BIA news, the BIA will be expanding its territory northward. This will have to be approved by council later on this year. View the current territory here.

For more information or to audition for a spot, contact Marion at 416-249-0691.

Weston, home of the Bicycle? Get real.

This is a supplement to Adam’s excellent ‘Tyraid‘ published in 2015.

At one time in Weston there was a CCM (Canada Cycle & Motor) factory that made bikes. Some time after the factory closed, Weston (through its Business Improvement Area) decided to call itself ‘The Home of the Bicycle”.

In recent years, Weston’s relationship with the bicycle has been marred by infidelity. Weston’s true love is clearly the car and bicycles are given the literal cold shoulder. Instead of encouraging cycling as a way to get around, our own councillor has in the past voted against bike lanes and has even proposed licensing bicycles – an idea that would curtail bicycle use.

More evidence of infidelity: not a single dedicated bike lane graces Weston’s streets; hardly surprising when we live in one of the few cities in the world without a single pedestrian-only street. The nearest thing we have to a bike lane in Weston is a set of ‘sharrows’ down some pretty busy stretches of Weston Road. What are ‘sharrows‘ you may ask – simply a set of stencilled chevrons and a bike image to indicate that cyclists may be present. Somehow a few licks of paint seem to allow politicians to believe that bikes are safely accommodated on our roads.

From the Toronto Star.

Incidentally one particularly dangerous stretch of Weston Road links two strands of the once vaunted Pan Am Path.

From WVRA site.

Negotiations to connect the two halves of the trail have been ongoing for a long time.

It has been shown that people who bike regularly are healthier and happier than those who don’t. The ones who don’t get hit by a car that is. Many cities around the world have found that by creating separate bike lanes, accidents fall off dramatically while cyclist numbers rise. Health care costs decrease too when large numbers cycle and the population becomes healthier. Plus we’re not talking about cities with nice climates either. Scandinavia can have some pretty foul winter weather yet cycling is used by a majority to get to work in Copenhagen. In fact, 63% of Danish MPs commute on a bicycle.

Stockholm has an extensive network of separated bike paths running through the city.
The author impressed by the support for cyclists in other countries – this is also in Stockholm.

Councillors from the suburbs who live in their own version of the 1950s often put forth bogus arguments when blocking pro-bicycle council motions: Cyclists blow through stop signs, they don’t pay for the roads etc. There’s a nice rebuttal to that nonsense here.

Read here to learn what other cold climate countries are doing to encourage cycling through the use of bicycle highways.

Bottom line; if we want to be the ‘Home of the Bicycle’, let’s do something meaningful. Mount Dennis is opting to be a ‘net zero’ community and has made great strides towards that goal. Weston really could be the home of the bicycle.

If the political will isn’t there, nothing will happen. If people don’t tell politicians what’s important to them, nothing will change. Few people are brave enough to risk life and limb cycling alongside cars. Build separated bike lanes and people will use them. Not only that, cyclists spend deceptively more money.

Let’s make Weston the ‘Home of the Bicycle’ through purposeful actions; not through the use of a now meaningless name.

High Speed Rail – bring it on!

I am going to take the opposite viewpoint to my esteemed colleague Adam on this topic. Here’s the ‘good cop’ version.

David Collenette was the man behind the UP Express, having first proposed it 20 years ago. His original vision was for a direct train that would offer a 22-minute ride from Pearson to Union that would cost $20. Without going into the details of what happened between concept and reality (read our back issues), the end result was that Weston in effect ended up with an all-day commuter rail service into Toronto for about the same price as a GO Train ticket.

Collenette has re-emerged as a ‘Special Advisor’ in a report outlining a vision of a high speed rail line joining Toronto and Windsor.

Lord knows how hard it is to get anything built in this neck of the woods. Collenette’s vision of the Air Rail Link (as it was then known), ended up as a huge gift for Weston’s commuters. Now on the wildly popular UP Express (since lowing prices), in rush hours, it’s standing room only.

What about the Toronto to Windsor HSR Line? It’s certainly needed. In fact, decent rail links all over Canada are needed. Part-way to Windsor lies Canada’s Silicon Valley in the Kitchener / Waterloo area. It’s too close to fly there (only 100 km) yet GO Trains take at best 2 hours. An HSR train would use much of the same corridor and cut travel time between the two city centres dramatically. Stops at Malton (Pearson), Guelph, Kitchener and London are proposed for the first phase.

The HSR route will use the UP Express corridor. Click for larger view.

What’s in it for Weston?

In 2021, the UP Express will add one more station at Mount Dennis and connect to the new Crosstown Line. Will this new station make the UP Express unacceptably slow? There is a rumoured possibility that Weston’s station will be too close to Mount Dennis and may be closed as a result.

The report itself recommends that existing services be ‘optimized’:

The Province should align provincial mandates to optimize rail services by directing Metrolinx and MTO to collaborate on the development of an Integrated Rail Strategy for the Toronto-Kitchener corridor, which would

•Clarify the mandates of GO RER, UP Express and HSR on the corridor.

•Assess ridership and service frequencies.

•Recommend how the Province might optimize GO RER, UP Express and HSR ridership to maximize the benefit to Ontarians.

One way around the two station dilemma might be to convert the existing UP Express into a commuter line and open new stations along the way. This could be a way of easing the burden on the subway system while preserving Weston’s regular and rapid link to downtown.

What will the cost be? Anyone who has done home renovations will know that estimated costs before a project begins are likely to end up higher in reality. What studies do show is that public transit adds value to a community if done well. No doubt changes and variations are up for grabs as they were with the original idea for the Airport Rail Link.

What about a high speed train running through our community? The train won’t likely be that fast in the city. Currently the UP Express hits speeds of up to 130 km/h between Bloor and Weston for an average of around 77 km/h. The report projects a somewhat faster average speed (just under 100 km/h from Union to Malton).

Travel times for the faster of the two HSR scenarios. Click for larger view.

The next steps will be more studies and consultations. This is just the beginning of what will be a long and ambitious project. While there may be pitfalls along the way, there will be opportunities and this proposed infrastructure holds huge promise and potential for Weston.

We do however need to be on top of this as a community and make sure that the people of Weston / Mount Dennis are heard loud and clear.