GO Schedules reduced.

Visit gotransit.com

According to Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins, temporary labour shortages are coming to GO Transit. She describes the cause as ‘absenteeism’ which I always thought meant deliberately staying away from work. Perhaps that is what she means.

Anyway, I digress. GO service is being reduced by about 15% so it might be wise to look at the schedule or sign up for alerts before leaving. UP Express service is unaffected.

Weston Public Library to stay open

Weston Library with creative overhead festooning by Toronto Hydro, Bell and Rogers.

Toronto Public Library is closing 44 branches as of January 10 in order to consolidate reduced staff numbers likely caused by a spike in Covid infections. Weston’s bijou Carnegie library will remain open and may be assigned staff from branches that are temporarily closed.

Here’s a list of the branches that will be closed.

More about the library here, and here.

Dr. John Campbell

Dr. John Campbell is a retired G.P. living in Carlisle in the U.K. He produces an almost daily video on the state of Covid in the U.K. and various parts of the world including Canada. His insights on the spread of Covid and his vitamin and mineral intake recommendations are invaluable. His most recent video can be seen above.

This is unrelated to Weston / Mount Dennis but I believe readers will find Dr. Campbell’s videos to be a useful resource.

Update: Dr. Campbell’s doctorate is in nursing education. He was a nursing educator at the University of Cumbria. Thanks to Hans Havermann for spotting my error.

Further update – here is Dr Campbell’s take on vitamin D. According to a growing number of people in medicine, most people are deficient in vitamin D.

Weston then and now.

Toronto and Weston had electric-powered transit many decades ago and not just street cars. The TTC ran trolley buses from the 1940s and Steve Munro’s excellent blog on transit has some crystal clear photos of trolleys towards the end of the trolley era. The article has couple of photos taken locally – here’s one from 1971 of a trolley emerging from Church Street onto Weston Road. The photo is contained in a blog post on trolley buses from Steve Munro, the authoritative voice of all things transit and the politics of moving people.

Weston and Church in 1971 (Steve Munro. Used with permission). Click to enlarge.

Weston and Church half a century later. (Google) Click to enlarge.

Read Steve’s article here. More on trolleys here.

Hussen gets his marching orders

Prime Minister Trudeau recently sent members of his Cabinet their marching orders for the new session of Parliament. Housing Minister and local MP Ahmed Hussen has been given a daunting list that probably won’t be tackled because of the transitory nature of minority governments. Such governments have a lifespan of around 18 months so the clock is ticking. There’s a whole lot of aspirational societal goals included in the letter but these are the ones that will most affect housing affordability. Minister Hussen is directed to help Canada’s housing shortage by,

  • legislating against rent gouging and renovictions
  • instituting an anti home-flipping tax
  • temporarily banning foreign buyers
  • curbing excessive profits in the housing industry
  • increasing consumer protection in real estate transactions
  • banning blind bidding in real estate deals
  • encouraging renters to enter the housing market through rent-to-own schemes
  • supporting office conversion into residential housing

Many of these directives were contained in the Liberals’ 2021 election manifesto. How much of this list will be accomplished by 2023 when the next federal election will likely occur? My cynical guess is very little but the items will probably be recycled for the 2023 Liberal Platform.

Read the full Trudeau letter here.

Artscape – a cautionary tale.

There’s an interesting article in the Globe and Mail detailing events unfolding in Toronto’s Distillery District. Back in the closing days of the 20th Century, TTD developers took advantage of Section 37 to build higher and in exchange, granted below market rates to artists through Artscape for a period of 20 years. Sadly, that subsidy ends in 2022 and around 70 artists are being turfed out to make room for a college. These are the artists who created an interest in the area when nobody wanted to go there. There was hope that Artscape might be able to negotiate a new deal but it didn’t happen. The Globe article makes an excellent point, namely that bad architecture, which will be around for a long time was traded for an artist subsidy lasting only 20 years.

Perhaps this is a lesson that we can learn from in the future (and by we I mean Councillor Nunziata and local resident’s associations). Concessions made as part of Section 37 should be as permanent as the crappy architecture that generated them.

Read the Globe article here.

Metrolinx news

Weston Go Station:

Work at Weston GO station continues in order to complete the link to a fourth passenger rail line and create a fourth platform. This will allow the UP Express to use separate platforms at the station and enable all-day GO service in the future. The track was already in place but was missing the section at the station. The new platform will be fully accessible, heated during cold weather and have a warm waiting area. It should be ready next year.

Perhaps Metrolinx will re-visit the idea of VIA trains stopping in Weston to allow passengers from south-west Ontario the option of hopping onto the UP Express to the Airport. To quote Mike Sullivan,

Via desperately wants to stop in Weston. Their trains come from Sarnia, London and Kitchener, and patrons who want to go to the airport have to go all the way to Union and double back, adding about an hour to their trip.

Metrolinx refuses to let them. There are 4 trains per day (two in each direction) and Metrolinx says their dwell time (the time it takes to unload and load passengers) is too long and would interfere with the UP express schedule. They did suggest that when the 4th track is in place maybe things would change.

It may also have to do with the Kitchener part of the trips. Metrolinx wants to be the train of record from Kitchener, and VIA is in competition.

Mike Sullivan speaking to Weston Web in 2018.

Eventually the Kitchener line will either be electrified or hydrogenated. For some reason, after studying electrification for more than a decade, both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have wanted to throw some money at investigating whether or not converting the Kitchener line to run on hydrogen would be a good idea. Weston Web had the answer four years ago in 2017. It still stands.

Looking north at the new platform under construction. Metrolinx image. Click to enlarge.

Read the station upgrade details from Metrolinx here.

Eglinton Crosstown Line westward extension:

Further south, the Ford government seems committed to an extension of the Crosstown line to Renforth and eventually, Pearson Airport. The line will follow Eglinton, mostly underground apart from a stretch over the Humber which will be on an elevated section away from traffic. Metrolinx is asking interested parties to make themselves known. Actual approval and construction is many years away but the Ontario Government seems eager to show local voters that it still taking steps to support the project. Those who think that the Scarborough Subway is a good idea will agree that this extension is pure genius and well worth the billions to be spent on it.

The proposed Eglinton Crosstown westward extension showing the elevated section of the new line in blue. From Metrolinx. Click to enlarge.
Artist concept of the elevated section with the existing Eglinton bridge behind. Those look like catenary wires to me. From Metrolinx. Click to enlarge.

Read more details from Metrolinx here.