Our name is mud

It must be a slow summer for news because the mud in Weston has made it to the majors. The Star ran an article last week about the stuff. It was, as you’d expect, sympathetic.

Then the National Post caught wind of the mess, and Chris Selley wrote an amazingly ill-informed opinion piece. (Ignorance is a wonderful for clarifying one’s opinions, and Selley has very clear opinions.)

He says that the dust in Weston is a sign of progress. In a bravura display of factlessness, he says that we are NIMBYs about noise “fences” (they are walls, and Westonians don’t care) and about diesel fumes emananting from the tracks “next to which [we] chose to live”.  He says we shall be well compensated by an ARL that, by his own admission, will be slow, expensive, and serve only one terminal—it will, though, have “steel wheels” and by the all-day service to Kitchener—which isn’t happening.

There’s no point arguing with people like this. Like climate deniers, they get off on being contrarian. Saying he’s wrong only makes him more sure that he’s right. You can’t fight trolls. You have to starve them.

Professor says Weston could get ‘subway’

Professor Andre Sorensen of the University of Toronto has a great editorial in today’s Star.

The ideal location to create [a new subway-lite] is to combine the Union-Pearson express with the proposed relief line. Such a line could run on the UPX tracks from the airport to Weston, Dundas West and Union Station, and then the Lakeshore GO tracks to Main Street station on the Danforth. A combination of an airport express that only stopped at those five stops with a local service that stopped at local stations along the line would be much better than either of the options currently being studied, and would dramatically increase the line’s ridership….

 

[Fast] access to the city centre and the airport, a subway-quality transit service along this corridor would create an attractive location for both office and housing development. Crucially, with the region’s two major employment nodes served by the line, it could be expected to attract a significant number of commuter trips. Local stations between Union and Pearson would provide huge opportunities for transit-oriented development.

 

Vibration mitigation in Mount Dennis

Mount Dennis has been suffering from terrestrial vibrations caused by the trains that run through town. Last week, they held a community meeting to discuss ways the vibrations might be mitigated.

The report on the meeting says that Metrolinx has committed to installing ‘ballast mats’ under the tracks they control (CP’s tracks will not have ballat mats installed). Ballast mats are rubber and cork mats that run under the tracks.

The mats were not part of the original plan, but came about, Metrolinx says, because of a change in the track alignments to accommodate the GO station they will be building at the Eglinton LRT line.

The tracks will not get ballast mats immediately. Instead, they will be installed in stages, as the lines are built and replaced.

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Ballast mat (yellow)

Metrolinx announces extended construction hours

Metrolinx has announced that it will again be digging and building for extended hours along the tracks in Weston. They will again be working until 11 pm from Monday to Friday, and until 7 pm on the weekends. Noisy work will, they say, be completed before 9 pm.

Metrolinx had earlier announced and begun nighttime construction, but they suspended it after a community reaction. They then surveyed residents living near the tracks, asking whether they would rather have additional closures or extended hours. Two-thirds of respondents said they’d prefer extended hours.

Extended hours of construction will begin on July 2nd and continue until August 2nd.

 

Noise wall debate getting loud

Metrolinx will be installing noise walls along the tracks that run through Weston, but residents closer to downtown are getting worked up about the possibilities and asking for an improved design.

The walls will be up to 5m (15′) high, and some of the designs are quite ugly—all concrete and plexiglass.

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Others are attractive, but downtown residents worry that they will cast large shadows, attract graffiti, and reduce the green space.

It could be worse. If Metrolinx builds the walls on the cheap, we will be stuck with a monstrosity that cuts through the neighbourhood. Below is a rendering of a street in Mount Dennis, done by the firm Brown + Storey.

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Instead, Brown + Storey propose  ‘living walls’, which use vegetation and more natural materials to reduce the noise. They say,

the new rail link does not need to follow in the steps of other transit infrastructure in Toronto – that is, disconnecting neighborhoods further, and treating the new line as a necessary evil that needs to be separated as much as possible in a virtual tunnel. Rather, the rail link should be seen as a positive attribute that can re ‐ invigorate and increase our pedestrian and cycling networks, be a catalyst for the reconnection of historically separated neighbourhoods for Toronto residents, and ultimately become a new international gateway….

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Conservatives catch Wynned of ARL waste

The Conservative critic of the Pan Am Games, Rod Jackson, put out a press release yesterday tearing into the mismanagement of the UP Express.

Your humble correspondent rarely includes press releases in their entirety, but this is a doozy:

The Union-Pearson Air-Rail Link was designed to be a legacy project which would make travel to Pearson airport cheaper and easier. Instead, its mismanagement by the provincial Liberal government will leave it standing as a legacy to McGuinty-Wynne waste.

“The ARL has been rushed by this government and it has cost Ontarians hundreds of millions in wasted dollars,” said MPP Rod Jackson. “Metrolinx officials have even confirmed that the ARL could have been electrified in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Instead, they’re spending taxpayer’s money twice.”

Estimates suggest that converting rail lines from diesel to electric would take around three years to complete, provided an environmental assessment was in place. Metrolinx currently plans to electrify the ARL by 2017, starting the electrification process in 2015 after the Pan Am Games.

“The Games were awarded in 2009. If electrifying the rail line was a 3-year process, this Liberal government could have easily electrified the line in time for the Pan Am Games, saving themselves from having to spend money on diesel in the first place.”

“This McGuinty-Wynne government clearly stands for two things: red tape and waste. The ARL is a perfect representation of that Liberal ethos.”

“First, red tape turned a 3-year retrofit into an 8-year retrofit. Second, that red tape led directly to the waste of up to $456-million being needlessly spent on the ARL prior to electrification costs in millions.”

“Premier Wynne has demonstrated that she will continue in the footsteps of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty by showing a lack of responsibility in handling the public purse,” concluded Jackson.

 

Carrying Place plaque unveiled.

Alongside the busy traffic on Weston Road, a ceremony was held by the Weston Historical Society (WHS) Saturday to dedicate a plaque commemorating the European discovery of the Carrying Place Trail. The plaque, a brainchild of WHS, was partly funded by a grant of $1000 from Metrolinx.

The trail was a route that followed the eastern banks of the Humber River used by Aboriginal people between Toronto and Lake Simcoe. The plaque, on the corner of Weston Road and Little Avenue is right on the original trail and commemorates Weston’s place on the trail as well as the countless generations of Aboriginal people who lived here before being displaced by European settlement. Elder Garry Sault of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations along with Carolyn King, co-chair of the New Credit First Nations Cultural Committee led a traditional Aboriginal blessing with smudging and drumming and later spoke about the history of the natives who lived in the area.

Elder Garry Sault of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations leads a traditional Aboriginal blessing with smudging and drumming.
Elder Garry Sault of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations.

Mary Louise Ashborne spoke of the vast amounts of wildlife that populated the area until made extinct (e.g. passenger pigeon) or decimated by hunting or pollution (e.g. Atlantic salmon). Several Weston VIPs were in attendance – almost outnumbering the public who chose to attend.

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L to R, facing camera, Councillor Frances Nunziata, BIA Chair Masum Hossain, Suri Weinberg-Linsky, Weston Historical Society President, Mary Louise Ashborne, MPP Laura Albanese, MP Mike Sullivan.
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L to R, Humber River Guardian Madeleine McDowell, Cherri Hurst (WHS), Carolyn King, Elder Garry Sault.

Mike Sullivan spoke about his private-members bill to restore protection to the Humber, designated a Heritage River in 1999. He is concerned that oil pipelines that cross the Humber may more easily spill their contents into the river thanks to recent federal legislation that loosened environmental protection for the river.

The unveiling was followed by a Jane’s Walk hosted by the WHS, south along the Humber pointing out places of historical interest along the way.