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.

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.

Crosstown Line Update

The Eglinton Crosstown line will not open for another four years but they keep updating their website to give tantalizing looks at the future along with progress to date. Below is a view of Eglinton Avenue showing where the new Mount Dennis Station will be placed.

A sequence of past, present and future images of the Mount Dennis Station site. The Kodak Building is illustrated back in its original position in the 2021 imagining.

Incidentally, the anticipated speed of the Crosstown is illustrated in a graphic on the site.

Where’s the GO and UP Express?

I was on the UP Express a couple of days ago and according to my phone’s GPS feature, we were exceeding 125 km/h at times between Bloor and Weston. Of course that’s not the average speed (probably just over 60 km/h) but pretty impressive when comparing commuter rail track speeds in Canada. For example, the GO train trundles along at an average pace of about 50 km/h between Kitchener and Toronto.

The Crosstown site has also posted a recent ‘Flyover’ video (May 2) of stations along the line in an aerial viewpoint showing how work is progressing at each location.

Watch the video in fullscreen mode for a more detailed view.

Lions Park stairway is open.

The stairway overlooks Weston’s soccer field.

Here is a panoramic view of  the new stairway in all its magnificence. The city has planted some flowering shrubs to discourage foot traffic down the left hand side and contract workers completed that component yesterday. The new stairway is wider and sturdier than the old wooden one and has decks that can be used for soccer game viewing. Galvanized grid decking, will ensure that no salt will be needed on the steps in winter.

This project was scheduled for completion by September 2015. Let’s (fondly) hope that future infrastructure work in Weston will be completed by the dates promised and that our community isn’t taken for granted any more.

Lions Park Steps are Telling

Readers may remember that the John Street Bridge was completed yet left unavailable to the public for months while Metrolinx and the City squabbled over various issues. The public was inconvenienced but no matter, it was only the people of Weston. Help was requested from several levels of government but to little avail.

In Lions Park, a set of outdoor stairs had reached the end of their life and were set for replacement. The work was scheduled for September 2015. The old stairs were demolished in June 2016 and new ones built earlier this year. They are now almost complete but are still inaccessible to the public.

This important footpath has been unavailable for almost a year.

This after calls to 311, Councillor Ford’s office and Parks Supervisor Phil Jarow, who told me in an email,

“Sorry I do not have information on a date for opening of the stairway. I was told earlier this week the stairs are completed and awaiting final inspection and sign off by an engineer. Also I was given the information I would receive more information next week. Please contact me if you have any questions.”

Well the obvious question is when will the stairs be opened?

Nobody seems willing to take responsibility for the delay. Again, the public is being inconvenienced but who cares? It’s only the people of Weston.

Can you imagine this happening in Rosedale or Forest Hill?

I rest my case.

Dear readers, if you have some time today, please add your voice by calling your councillor: Frances Nunziata (416) 392-4091, Mike Ford 416-397-9255 or 311. Let’s make our voices heard.

Postscript: This morning I received an email from Parks Forestry and Recreation Senior Project Coordinator, Ed Hanna. According to Ed,

To clarify, in our final meeting last week onsite , we requested additional planting to the stair side to prevent potential access towards underneath the staircase for safety concerns
As a construction site and for safety measures, the contractor needs to complete site restoration while the staircase is still closed, this will happen today and tomorrow
I realize that this is an important pathway for the community, and that this project took longer than expected, we apologize for that.
All above will be completed, and the staircase will be opened in a couple of more days( Wednesday May 10).

Thanks to all who called in to request some action on this project. I’m sure that made the difference.

Kodak Building 9 interior photographed.

The Kodak recreation building, (officially known as Kodak Building 9) was moved from its foundations last summer. The idea was to create new foundations that the building will return to and become part of the new Mount Dennis Station.

Kodak Building 9 interior. From Crosstown LRT  Twitter. Click for larger image.

It was recently photographed and the worker inside illustrates the awesome size of the building while graffiti still festoons the interior walls.

Read more about last summer’s move here.

Steps to nowhere?

Tantalizingly near completion after being out of service since last June.

Work on the steps from Hickory Tree Road and Bellevue to the Lions Park soccer field has once again ground to a halt. A call to 311 uncovered that citizens can call directly, and the name to call was temporary supervisor Nick Ovington. After two unreturned calls to Mr Ovington, it emerged that he no longer works in this area. According to Councillor Mike Ford’s Constituency Advisor, Jennifer Couto, there is a new temporary supervisor, Phil Jarow. Bottom line; the stairway “is in place waiting for the final testing procedures and final finish grading. A timeline for completion will be forwarded early next week.”

As soon as word comes from Mr. Jarow, readers will be updated.