For some strange reason, WestonWeb wasn’t invited to the recent press tour of the Eglinton Crosstown facilities. The tour was to show off the latest construction milestones of the mammoth project. The storage and maintenance facility being built on the old Kodak Lands will be ‘ready to receive trains’ in just six weeks. Don’t get your hopes up. There will be no passengers on the line until October 2021 at the earliest.
There are some good reports of the event, one of which can be read in Urban Toronto here.
There is a huge and detailed map of Toronto, printed in 1916 that shows the various townships that make up the Toronto of today. It’s interesting to see the land holders of that time whose names now adorn our streets.
The map has been digitized and is currently hosted on the University of Toronto Library website. Below is a small section of that map showing our locale and with the folds digitally removed for clarity. It’s a fascinating look at the Weston, Mount Dennis and Lambton Mills of a century ago. The concentric circles on the map radiate from the intersection of Bloor and Yonge.
In Weston Village, Pine and Elm streets can be seen but Maria, Elizabeth and Beech streets are no more. Further south, West Park Hospital now occupies the site of the National Sanitarium where many tuberculosis patients were treated. A Janes Walk a couple of years ago toured the site of the old piggery that fed patients. West Park now specializes in many areas but treats TB patients to this day although thanks to antibiotics, not in such large numbers.
For the complete map (and many hours of browsing) grab a coffee and click here.
Toronto Hydro is planning to rebuild the aging overhead electrical system in the community to help improve service reliability. The rebuild includes upgrading overhead electrical cables and replacing hydro poles within the City of Toronto’s public property allowance in front of or adjacent to the lot. Throughout this project, planned outages may be necessary to switch from the old to the new electrical system and we intend to provide advance notice. Toronto Hydro crews and contractors will take extra care and precautions around the property. Please be advised that as a result of the project, our contractor may be trimming a number of the overgrown trees on the public road allowance in order to accommodate new hydro infrastructure. Upon project completion, affected areas will be restored.
So, instead of replacing MacDonald Avenue’s overhead wiring with underground cables, Toronto Hydro will continue to use a 19th Century method of bringing power to homes and businesses. This will ensure a continuing vulnerability of the power supply to ice storms, lightning strikes, vehicle collisions and falling trees. Speaking of trees; pruning them to make room for wiring is harmful and our trees would last far longer if they weren’t weakened by being trimmed.
The average life of a hydro pole is about 35 years so the MacDonald Avenue installation should last until 2053. Oh, and don’t hold your breath expecting that all of the old poles will be completely removed.
It seems that Toronto Hydro would rather spend its money on executive remuneration than on upgrading infrastructure, preserving trees and improving our streetscape. Yes, it would be initially more expensive to bury power lines but it would be an investment in the future and save money (repairs from the 2013 ice storm cost over $170 million) and inconvenience in the long run.
This video was posted at the end of January but shows the work going on at the old Kodak site very clearly including the new Crosstown Line Mount Dennis Station, the Kodak building, the new vehicle maintenance building and the train storage facility.
The size of the project is quite astonishing.
Thanks to Henry Rientsma for posting the video to facebook.
Metrolinx is holding an open house to showcase its Eglinton Crosstown project tomorrow, Tuesday, between 6:30 and 8:00pm. The project is set to open in 2021 and provide rapid transit and connections along and (mainly) under Eglinton between Mount Dennis and Kennedy Road. On display will be images of construction progress, construction timelines and details of likely impacts that future construction will bring in terms of noise and inconvenience.
Location: York Recreation Centre at 115 Black Creek Drive.
Toronto Council consists of 44 councillors and one mayor, each of whom has a single vote when making decisions. There is a huge staff at City Hall which gathers information and makes recommendations to council on topics to be discussed. Smaller committees of councillors, generally appointed by the Mayor, study the issues, receive input from staff and the public and then make a recommendation which is forwarded to a general council meeting. Unfortunately many councillors have varying axes to grind; sadly for the people, the biggest priority of many councillors is getting re-elected every four years. As a result, fact-based decisions often happen by accident rather than by design. For example, the unnecessary Scarborough Subway, panned by experts both here and around the world, will be a costly blunder that Mayor Tory and many suburban councillors (including our own) fully support.
We need to make plans and act on them with support from the city and in conformity with the Toronto Official Plan.
Weston is still only in Phase 1 of its Heritage Conservation District status granted in 2004. Phase 2 was to be studied that same year. ‘Study’, in the language of Toronto politics means delay, in the hope that the issue will go away quietly (which it did). Apparently getting to phase 2 requires time, money and a huge volunteer effort. Rich areas have no problem raising money and help but a district like Weston / Mount Dennis naturally struggles.
There was an official set of plans drawn up around 2005 for some of the more historic Toronto communities. In Weston, developers were supposed to keep future building heights to around 8 stories in our area out of consideration of the historical context and the river’s proximity. Outside of special areas, the Tall Building Design Guidelines should apply but often don’t.
In 2009, plans for rehabilitating the Kodak lands were discussed. Former Toronto Chief Planner Paul Bedford held a planning exercise with his University of Toronto students to explore Weston’s potential and reported on his findings in 2010. That led to a Weston planning ‘charrette‘ back in 2011. The Mount Dennis Mobility Hub Study in 2012 was another planning session.
Some of the ideas that came out of these planning sessions were excellent but somehow the execution has been lacking; for example:
create a pedestrian walkway along South Station Street that would connect Weston Village with the GO / UPX station.
create generous and clearly defined pedestrian and cycling routes to the station
create more accessible access points to the parks along the Humber
Fix the uninviting streetscape along Weston Road
BTW, the Charrette didn’t get everything right. One of their key messages was that “Public investment will need to be provided by the private sector.”
It seems that many development deals are worked out in the back rooms before they reach the public. Public commentary then serves to make only minor adjustments. When the 30-storey Weston Hub was in the public commentary stage, people were told that the height was non-negotiable.
in 2016, more planning studies for Weston and Mount Dennis were announced that should have seen the light of day in 2017 but nothing seems to have transpired.
Weston and Mount Dennis are not less worthy of support than more affluent areas of the city but that’s not what happens. The Artscape project at Wychwood Barns received millions in funding from three levels of government. Our own Artscape development at the soon to be opened Weston Hub received a much smaller investment.
As mentioned previously, Europe has car free zones, attractive streetscapes and limits on building height. Our planning in Toronto seems to be centred around strictly regulating development and then accepting relatively small amounts of money to break the rules.
Finally, we have a mayor and his team who deliberately keep city coffers empty because they cannot see beyond keeping taxes at or below inflation. The mayor worries about millionaire homeowners becoming homeless because of property tax hikes:
“a lot of older and younger people counting on us to be disciplined will be forced from their homes, or find it unaffordable to live in the city, if we start taking 5-per-cent-a-year” tax hikes. – Toronto Star December 27, 2017
He’s conveniently ignoring the fact that older and disabled residents can apply for property tax relief. But that’s our current political environment. Facts mean nothing, there’s no money for the public good and it’s all about protecting the rich.