GO Train now goes to Kitchener

They may run at an inconvenient time, but the 5:02 pm and 6:02 pm GO trains from Weston station run all the way to Kitchener. There are likewise two inbound trains from Kitchener each morning that pass through Weston on their way to Union Station. The Weston to Kitchener trip takes a leisurely 1 hour 40 minutes.

I guess it would be handy for Oktoberfest!

As a result of the new extension, the Georgetown Line is being renamed the Kitchener Line.

Airport Link and All Day GO – Implications for Weston Residents

The mainstream press rediscovers the Airport Link every so often and now is no exception. For some reason, the line is back in the consciousness of the media. It’s probably a good time to look at some of the issues and implications for Weston.

Firstly, we have to thank the good people at Weston Community Coalition and the Clean Train Coalition and others who took the time and trouble to yell loudly enough to ensure that the train would stop at Weston at all. When first planned, only one stop was designated along the way at Dundas West.  Labelled Blue 22 because of the anticipated 22-minute journey, the train will now take 25 minutes from Pearson to Union Station with the added stop in Weston. Hopefully it will one day be called the Green 25 but not yet as the trains will be tier 4 diesels – there’s probably no way of fixing that for several years as the Japanese locomotives for the link were a done deal years ago, money is tight and there isn’t likely to be another election soon. It’s a shame but that’s politics for you. Some of the noise will be reduced through barriers and along one section, a tunnel. As for pollution, allegedly these diesels are somewhat less polluting than GO Trains but electric will be far cleaner, quieter and faster when it eventually arrives. The reason for the haste is that the link was promised for the 2015 Pan Am games to move spectators between downtown and the Airport (athletes will have their own dedicated buses and lanes along the 427 and Gardiner).

Because  of the need to reduce noise levels, the tracks near the existing station will be lowered into a tunnel. The station will move south of Lawrence this spring where more parking can be accommodated. Work is already well under way in the new location. John Street will be revitalized.

Also in 2015, our anemic GO Train service will be increased to an all-day service with double the number of trains running.

So to summarize: in 2015, Weston will have an all-day train service to downtown as well as stops along the way and in addition will be served by a separate link with rapid access to Pearson Airport (probably under 10 minutes) as well as to downtown. The new station is being designed with community input (next meeting February 2, 2012 at York West Active Living Centre 1901 Weston Road), will be much more visible, have lots of parking and will be accessible from Lawrence Avenue as well as Weston Road. Although fares will be more expensive than the subway, the added convenience and speed (under 20 minutes to downtown) will be an excellent trade-off.

What are the implications? For real estate developers, having such a rapid portal to two huge places of interest will spark a frenzy of property buying in this area. If the fares are affordable, airport workers from baggage handlers to pilots will love to live with such easy access—easier and faster than just about any other transportation method, as the new Link will connect directly to Terminal One. The range of housing available is stunning, from the mansions of historic Weston to apartments and condos—and at bargain prices too. People who work in downtown Toronto will find that Weston will be an easy commute with flexibility thanks to the all-day service. There will be a building boom in a wide area around the station to accommodate the new travellers and their needs. Apartment buildings will spring up near the station. Another implication: Weston may begin to see signs of gentrification—perhaps a Starbucks and a restaurant chain or two; fewer payday loan companies, dollar stores and vacant properties. Older apartment buildings will spruce themselves up in order to attract a changing demographic, sparking a boom in renovations. Rents both commercial and retail will go up. Condos that have languished for years will be snapped up.

A danger exists that Weston station will be replaced by another location, possibly a mobility hub (note two links) along the way. This will perhaps take years and with vigilance and community activism may never happen.

Monster LED billboard coming to Weston

A Planning Department photo rendering of the proposed sign.

The 18.6 square metre billboard on CN property along Lawrence Avenue east of Weston Road may soon be replaced by a (nearly twice as large) LED display billboard.

According to Dave Meslin’s blog.

The new signs are much much more intrusive, brighter, and larger than anything we’ve ever seen in these neighbourhoods.

The city Planning Committee is recommending the approval of ten of these much bigger and brighter signs along the CN Rail utility corridor to replace some existing billboards while removing others (for now). This is being done at the urging of Blair Murdoch of outdoor advertising firm Allvision. Apparently since neighbourhoods along the CN line already put up with noise and diesel pollution, the additional light pollution will hardly be noticeable.

No doubt Allvision and the Planning Committee were hoping that the signs would be quietly approved. As a result of a deputation from concerned citizens, a consultation meeting regarding the LED billboards will be held at City Hall (2nd Floor, Committee Room 1) on Wednesday, December 14th from 6:30 – 9:30 pm.

Metrolinx Funds Local Initiatives

Looking over Lawrence Ave to the future Weston Go Station (From GO Transit)

There’s not much notice given, but if you can come up with a ‘community based initiative’, Metrolinx might fund it to the value of up to $1000. These initiatives along the Georgetown South rail corridor are intended to help beautify areas around tracks and stations or facilitate use of the rail corridor through car pooling and other means. The full details and application form can be accessed here.

OK then, let’s get started: do you have an idea for a mural, a bike rack, a hanging basket or two? What about park benches for commuters waiting for a ride? Perhaps a Welcome To Weston information board outside the station listing attractions and businesses on a map…

Get your skates on; the deadline is December 16th!

Litter in our parks

In Toronto we are lucky to have a park system that is accessible to most residents and contains stretches of astonishingly beautiful scenery. As a person who walks daily in our parks, it never fails to astound me how some people aren’t just careless with our parks, they seem determined to fill them with litter. There is a man who on his way through Raymore and Lions parks regularly drinks then drops a can of Ensure (a dietary supplement) along the way. Apparently he is having trouble with his bowel movements as this version of the supplement contains extra fibre. This man will actually pass a garbage can and wait until he thinks nobody is watching before slinging his trash into the grass. He is not alone. There are all manner of food and beverage containers strewn daily by the lazy, malevolent and careless. There is a picnic table by the Lions Park tennis courts that is surrounded by beer bottle caps and other detritus of drinking parties including human waste if you are foolish enough to venture into the nearby bushes. Then there are the dog owners who pick up after their pet but sling the bag into the bush where it will take forever to decompose. Parks staff and supervisors never seem to be around unfortunately so most often it is left to citizens to remove individual acts of littering or sound the alarm whenever trash builds up in an area (by the stairs leading to Hickory Tree Road for example).

We shouldn’t totally despair. There are angels who will without fuss, pick up litter from the park and carry it to a trash or recycling container. They love the parks and operate on the principle that trash attracts more trash. It has been shown that people are more reluctant to litter a clean area than a dirty one.

We can only hope in this age of service cuts and an anticipated reduction of park maintenance, that people and the City will increase their efforts to protect our parks and keep them beautiful. If you would like to provide input on the way our parks are run, the city would like your opinion through a survey.

Weston Library to be a hold centre for Mount Dennis branch

Toronto Public Library’s Mount Dennis branch will be closed for over a year beginning on Saturday, October 29th. This is to allow for extensive renovations. During that time, Mount Dennis patrons are asked to pick up their holds at the Weston branch on King Street. This will no doubt mean a busier library and an even tougher time to find a parking spot for regular Weston patrons as many people will come by car.

Would it be too much to expect that Weston branch hours will not be reduced? Perhaps there is even a case for expanding hours while Mount Dennis is closed.