Metrolinx Woes

Where to start?

Presto – Because of the ‘exclusive’ deal signed with Galen Weston’s Loblaw Inc., Metrolinx will be firing the three dozen small retailers who currently sell TTC tokens and passes in our neighbourhood.  Only the two Shoppers Drug Marts will sell TTC fares (Presto tickets and cards).  It’s a huge reduction in accessibility for our part of the city.  There’s lots else wrong with Presto, and TTC is not happy about it.

UP Express and GO fares – The previous government promised to lower GO fares to $3 within the city.  The new government told Metrolinx to lower them to $3.70.  Metrolinx left UP express fares at the old higher level, and removed the $1.60 discount for transferring to TTC, for those using UP from Weston (or Bloor).  The province gave Metrolinx money to provide the discount for both UP and GO.  I wondered if Metrolinx had returned any of the money, but the folks at the Ministry of Transportation could not answer that question.  I’ve asked Metrolinx but I’m not holding my breath.

Tier 4 Trains – The Minister ordered GO to use Tier 4 diesel trains on our line (now called Kitchener line) once they had bought some.  Tier 4 are about 8 times cleaner than the locomotives now in use.  They now have 8 locomotives.  But they initially advised they would not be using them on Kitchener.  When challenged, they said they’d check again.  Still waiting.

Noise Walls – The original Environmental Assessment demanded walls along the curve at the end of Holley where it meets Parke.  None were installed.  Metrolinx claimed it was too difficult given the size of retaining wall they built.  But their own consultant on the EA warned them to make sure they built walls strong enough to hold the noise walls.  If they didn’t that’s on them, and we deserve something.  In addition, the EA demanded a wall between the tracks and Rosemount south of John.  Nothing installed there.  No excuse given.  And they promised walls behind Brownville and Arthur streets.  Still nothing, though they claim it is due to property negotiations with landowners on those streets.

Government Regulators – It took some doing but I found persons at both the Provincial and Federal Ministries of the Environment who could speak about the now ten year old Environmental Assessment.  Provincially they didn’t think there was anything they could do to force Metrolinx to live up to the promises in the EA.  Federally they were quite shocked, as Metrolinx had recently sworn out a ‘solemn declaration’ claiming they had lived up to all the EA commitments, in order to get the final payments from the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

In addition, the Province relieved Metrolinx of its responsibility to monitor air quality.  Metrolinx claimed that the implementation of the UP Express had not seriously degraded air quality.  Trouble is, it is GO Transit operations if not Tier 4 (see above) that will adversely affect our air quality.

The federal folks are questioning Metrolinx about the noise walls.  We shall see what happens next.

John and Weston Signals to get Fixed

For some time, I have thought that the signals at John and Weston were broken. It cycles through continuously, with a green signal on Weston Rd for only a few seconds before it starts to change again. It makes traffic in rush hour a nightmare.
I reported it several years ago, and was told it was fine. I reported it again a few weeks ago when I noticed it cycling in the middle of the night.
I was again told it was working fine.
I asked the 311 operator if someone could call me back. I got an email from Henry Chu, who advised me to email him the nature of the issue. I did yesterday.
Today I got a call from one of the staff of transportation, who advised that indeed the car detection loop under John Street was broken and was calling for a change all the time. It will take a few weeks to fix, he said.

Contest Mar 14 and New Club opening

NEW TOASTMASTERS CLUB COMING!

Weston and Mount Dennis is about to get a Toastmasters Club. Its start-up meeting will be at the Anglican Church of St.Mary & St.Martha (south east corner of Weston Road at Eglinton) in mid April. Watch for details or contact Al Farrington at 416-722-0254 [email protected]

Joining a Toastmasters Club can be a great way to improve your public speaking skills, and is especially helpful for those who may feel too nervous to speak in front of large groups or strangers, or who want to work in sales or public relations. Toastmasters International has existed since 1924, has nearly 375,000 members and has a very solid reputation in over 145 countries world wide. Membership is open to anyone over 18, but anyone can attend meetings as a visitor. It’s free to the first 20 who become new members for the first 12 months.

For a demonstration, everyone is invited to the International Speech Contests with 45 clubs in Division “G” participating this Thursday March 14 at York Civic Centre 6:30-9:30. Come and see what confidence-building can do to enhance your job interview skills and how it can lead to career advancement.

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/toastmasters-evaluation-and-international-speech-contest-district-60-division-g-tickets-58499606899

Restore our bus service, say residents

Yesterday several residents wrote to our councillor and the TTC board, asking that cuts to the Weston Road 89 bus be restored. In October of last year, with much fanfare, TTC introduced express service along Weston Road. The 989 stops at only the major intersections and only runs during rush hour. However, to do this, TTC brass decided to take buses OFF the 89. This means that the wait between buses, for those who live between major roadways, is almost 50% longer. And Weston buses are subject to major bunching problems, where a group (what’s the collective noun for buses, a bevy?) comes along and half an hour or longer passes before the next group.
Residents can walk on icy, snowy, sometimes hilly sidewalks to the next major street, but that’s not always possible for someone with mobility issues.
Residents have no objection to ADDING express service, but not at the expense of local service. Waiting longer in the cold is not improved service. We deserve better.

Get your Free Money

The government of Canada has announced that it will be providing all tax filers in Ontario with Climate Action Incentive Payments (Climate Payments)

But, in order to get the payment, which itself is tax-free and doesn’t affect other payments such as Old Age Security, you must file a tax return.

The amounts are not staggering but they are something. The first individual gets $154. The second gets $77 and the third and subsequent gets $38. So a single mom with two kids will get $269. There are no strings attached.

Many Weston residents are living on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program. Some of those people do not file taxes, as they think it doesn’t matter. It does. Each will get the Climate payment so long as they file taxes.

Filing taxes is lots easier than it used to be. Besides filling in the paper form available at the Post Office, you can file online using E-File software, there are free tax clinics, such as at Weston Library, which you can find out about by dialing 211, and some low-income individuals can file by phone (File Taxes by Phone) .

Tax season starts on Feb 18, so many of these services will not be available yet. But make sure you get your free money!