Transit madness

If there’s one thing worse than Metrolinx planning transit, it’s politicians planning transit. This week’s City Council meeting saw two bonkers decisions.

First, Frances Nunziata and a majority of City Council voted against a value-for-money study of the nutso one-stop Scarborough subway, which will cost at least $3,350,000,000 and be a worse solution in every way that a multi-stop LRT. The study would, of course, have told them that it was a terrible idea.

Discontent with one gigantic mistake, council voted to look at building another  underground transit line, again against the recommendations of staff, but on the other side of town–this time in Mount Dennis.

City staff have already recommended a predominantly above-ground LRT to run from Mount Dennis to the airport region. They considered connections; cost; and impacts on the community, traffic, and the environment.

But, crucially, staff didn’t recommend digging a big hole into which money could be poured, so council told them to sit on the stairs and think it through again–and this time to “investigate further grade separation and or tunnelling options“.

An inconsistency then? In one case, council directed city staff to not study; in the other, they asked them to study harder.

No, there’s no contradiction. Our councillors quite consistently  expect the facts to fit the policy, and never the other way around.

It isn’t the city staff who need a time-out on the steps. It’s city council that needs to go and think about their decisions.

Upcoming events

The politicians of York South–Weston will be having a holiday open house next Sunday, December 10 at Frontlines, 1844 Weston Road. The event will be catered by the Frontlines culinary program.

Nunziata votes for bike lanes

Frances Nunziata seems to have had a change of heart about bikes. She joined the overwhelming majority of councillors and last week voted in favour of keeping the Bloor Street bike lanes.

Bike Lanes on Bloor
Photo by Eric Robinson (CC licensed)

In the past, Nunziata has not been resolutely probike. Notably, she voted to remove bike lanes on Jarvis, and wanted to license bikes (can we not re-litigate this? It’s a terrible idea.)

In Nunziata’s own ward, bike lanes remain few and far between, though that will slowly start improving with input from the newly-struck citizen committee on pedestrian safety and cycling.

 

Why we must have bad things

After the second fire at the derelict model home at Weston and Dora Spencer, people asked—rightly—how this could happen. Why was a building allowed to sit vacant for years, and how could it have burned twice, at great expense and considerable danger to the fine women and men who protect us?

The answer will not surprise you: the city is powerless. According to Frances Nunziata’s office, “the City cannot order that a building be demolished just because it has sat vacant for a long period of time”, but can only ask that it remains boarded up.

The owners wanted to keep the blue monstrosity as “the construction office for a development they have planned at 2 Buttonwood Street”— though I, for one, would certainly not have bought a home from someone who builds or cares for buildings quite like that.

If your standards are low, there is good news: what’s left of the building will be demolished by the end of the week, and the site should now be secured. 

While the building is gone, the problem remains: there are at least two other derelict and dangerous buildings on Weston Road that have sat vacant for years—indeed more than a decade: the homes near 2254 Weston.

Readers, submit your own photos of potential firetraps.

 

160th Anniversary Celebrations

This past weekend, Weston Collegiate Institute celebrated 160 years in operation. The school hosted events beginning with a monumental football game on Friday and concluding with an Alumni hockey game on Sunday. Community members, staff, present and past students
alike all came out to celebrate the success of this amazing school.
The events kicked off on Friday the 13th when Weston’s varsity football team played a home game against East York CI. The boys fought hard but unfortunately suffered a loss. However, they kept their heads held high and went into the weekend excited for all the events to come.

Saturday, was when the party really started. The festivities began at 11 am, in the school staff lounge with a breakfast for staff new and old. Facility members who graced Weston’s halls as early as the 1970’s were in attendance, and enjoyed catching up with their old co-workers (and meeting new ones).

As the day drew on, the Alumni foundation continued to pull out all the stops, hosting a ‘pub night’ in the school’s cafeteria. This event was for all past students and staff and was the highlight of the weekend! Memorabilia from the schools past was on display around the café,
as old students reminisced about days past.

Old yearbooks, pictures and even a pair of old skates were all out for everyone to see and read, as they remembered the days they called
Weston home. Current students at the school even took alumni on tours to look at how the school had changed over the years, and to marvel at historic pictures that grace our walls. (Some of which,
included them!) As the night progressed the party grew, and there wasn’t a single person in the room without a smile on their face! Grads from nearly every decade (including a lady who graduated in 1944),
were enjoying catching up and remembering just how much of an impact the school had left on them!

As Sunday approached the final event did as well. Students and staff who had been involved in hockey during their time at Weston ventured over to the Weston Lions Arena to participate in a
friendly hockey match. This was an opportunity for the once students, to play against the people who taught them so many years ago. (Don’t worry no math teachers were mysteriously injured during the tournament.) Weston CI is truly a monumental and amazing school. Despite a rocky reputation, the school is full of some of the most loving and amazing people in the city. For 160 years Weston has never failed to produce outstanding grads who have nothing but amazing things to say about their time in the halls of 100 Pine Street. Here’s to 160 years of Iron Man memories. And many more to come!


This post was brought to you by the generous sponsorship of Angie Gorenc at Serenity Path Psychotherapy. Start your journey today with a free 15-minute consultation: (647) 478-9607

Bloor Bike Lane Report is out

Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration
This cartoon illustrates how much of our streets are dedicated to traffic. Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration

Cycling is experiencing a boom in many cities in the world. Here in Weston, other than a short stretch along Eglinton between Scarlett and Jane, there’s no space exclusively dedicated to cycling through our streets. We have ‘sharrows‘ along streets like Weston Road and bike lanes that are simply painted lines but these do little or nothing to improve safety levels for cyclists in a city where people in vehicles have killed 2 cyclists and 28 pedestrians so far this year. Interestingly, when police report that someone has killed a pedestrian or cyclist, it’s the victims of driver inattention who are consistently lectured to wear light clothing and use more caution. Motorists are never asked to be more vigilant. The advent of the mobile phone and lax enforcement of distracted driving laws has made our streets less safe. Transportation Services’ cycling maps are hopelessly confusing and out of date.

Here in Canada, society favours motorists but Europe seems to be re-thinking their cities and many have extensive car free centres.

While Toronto doesn’t even have a single car free street, it is moving timidly in a more car-centric direction and recently set up bike lanes along Bloor street between Shaw Street and Avenue Road as a pilot study. The expectation was that the pilot would fail. Cyclist lanes would be unused, clog traffic and bankrupt the merchants along Bloor.

A report has been delivered to council with the following findings

The negative:

  • Car journey times did increase
  • Merchants had difficulty with deliveries
  • Parking convenience was reduced (longer walks)

The neutral or positive:

  • Increased journey times were reduced 50% with traffic signal adjustment
  • Cyclists felt safer and cycling increased by 49%
  • Motorists felt more comfortable with bikes separated
  • Near miss collisions have been reduced
  • Parking revenues remained steady
  • Most merchants reported increased customers and sales
  • Store vacancy rates were unchanged

As a result of the successful Bloor pilot, the city’s Transportation Services are recommending that the bike lane be made permanent. The report will go before the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and despite the committee’s car-oriented membership the recommendation will go forward to Council next month because as a result of the report, Mayor Tory supports the bike lanes. T.S. Committee members are: Christin Carmichael Greb, Stephen Holyday (Vice Chair), Chin Lee, Giorgio Mammoliti, Anthony Perruzza and Jaye Robinson (Chair).

Where does that leave Weston / Mount Dennis streets? Still dedicated to the traffic that mainly uses our area as a conduit to other places. Metrolinx is supposed to be investigating the extension of the West Toronto Railpath into our area but inquiries take weeks for a response and answers are vague or simply unhelpful. Even Toronto’s own Transportation Department doesn’t seem to bother to update its cycling information.

Toronto Cycling Map
A detail from the City’s latest cycling map showing our area. They still have the GO station in its old location. Click to enlarge.

Councillors in the suburbs tend to be very car-centric and ours is no exception. Ms. Nunziata’s support base may be called many things but cyclist tends not to be one of them. It remains to be seen if the Mayor’s turnaround will influence other members of Council when it comes to local bike lanes and public car-free areas. If this is his way of not being Doug Ford then long may it last! Perhaps he can also turn his attention to adequately funding the TTC and cancelling that idiotic $3.45 Billion one-stop subway.

Nunziata votes for Ford-dome

Frances Nunziata was one of few city councillors to vote to rename Centennial Stadium “Rob Ford Memorial Stadium”. Ford and Nunziata were long-time colleagues and friends before his death.

Image from The Globe and Mail

The motion to rename the stadium was defeated 24 to 11.