GO expanding to Woodbine racetrack

The Kitchener GO line will soon have a new stop at the Woodbine racetrack. The stop will be paid for by the owners of Woodbine, and it will replace the Etobicoke North station.

Metrolinx has said that the UP Express eventually may stop at Woodbine station, though no plans were announced this week. This would be great for Weston; the more that commuters use the line, the less likely we are to lose our stop–and that’s a concern because the train will stop at the new Mount Dennis transit hub.

 

 

Nunziata votes against youth hubs

Frances Nunziata voted against building 18 youth hubs, including one in Mount Dennis, at City Council this week.

Library
Image from torontopubliclibrary.ca

The hubs already run at 10 libraries across the city. Each costs about $130,000 a year. Included are a dedicated staff member, and “laptops, iPads, MacBooks, digital cameras, DJ equipment, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, gaming equipment (PlayStation, Xbox and Wii), board games, and more!”

They offer homework and employment help, workshops, and a place to de-stress.

According to The Star:

“The youth spaces that exist now have proven to be wildly popular.

A briefing note released by library staff earlier this year showed the number of visits to its youth hubs nearly doubled from 2016. That bump, staff said, is because new hubs became available — meaning the more youth hubs the city built, the more youth showed up.

A 2016 survey of participants found more than 70 per cent felt the program increased their feeling of safety and that they felt comfortable asking staff for help, the briefing note says.”

City Staff developed the plan for 20 new spaces in 2018, a year of record shootings.

The annual Toronto Police budget, by way of comparison, is about $1 billion. The cost of repairing the Gardiner will be about $2.3 billion.

Torontonians pay the second-lowest taxes in the GTA. The average residential tax bill in Toronto was $3906 in 2018; across the GTA it was $4773.

Weston is *not* the second-poorest

A couple of posts ago, I asked if anyone had data on the poverty in Weston. You can all put your calculating machines away. I think I’ve done it.

I’d heard for ages that Weston is the second-poorest postal code in Ontario. I confess, I was sceptical, since I heard this very same second-poorest thing when I lived in a bad part of Vancouver. That struck me as too odd a coincidence. I know I like neighbourhoods that are a little rough around the edges, but really.

And, it turns out, I was right. We don’t live in the second poorest. We live in the 40th poorest.

Don’t get smug, though. That’s still really bad. Weston is poorer than 92% of the rest of Ontario. The average Westonian makes $33,422, while the average Ontarian makes $54,000.

To make the comparison, I downloaded 2015 tax data (the most recent year available) from Revenue Canada. Obviously, we don’t all live in a single postal code, but we live in a single FSA—a Forward Sortation Area: M9N. (Mount Dennis shares M6M with a few other communities.) I eliminated all the FSAs that didn’t start with L, M, N, K, or P, the postal codes for Ontario.

With a bit of Excelling, I came up with the following:

  • Mount Dennis is in the 21st-poorest region in Ontario, poorer than 95% of all postal codes.
  • Weston is the 40th poorest region, poorer than 92%.
  • The poorest area is Thorncliffe Park, Toronto, and part of Jane and Finch is the second-poorest. Residents there make less than $25,000 per person per year.
  •  Lawrence Park has the highest-income residents. They make $212,000 a year, per person.

Skating is ON in Pearen Park

I wouldn’t go tonight, but the Pearen Park skating rink is now open.

Every year, volunteers zamboni the ice and manage free skates for anyone who drops by. They even offer lessons to new skaters.

It’s all gratis (though donations are welcome). It’s a beautiful, community-organized, ground (ice?)-up endeavour.

The good people at the MDCA can always use a helping hand, and they’re looking for volunteers to help with staffing the skate hut, flood the ice, and offer lessons.

 

Weston / Mount Dennis ‘on the rise’.

BlogTO has an article that has picked Weston Mount Dennis as one of five ‘Toronto and beyond’ neighbourhoods on the rise in 2019. That should come as no surprise for many residents who have witnessed the development and cultural activity that has been under way for several years. The article cites as evidence, the Eglinton Crosstown, the transit hub forming around the Kodak Building and construction starting this year on the new net zero daycare.

Read the article here.

GO expansion could lead to huge changes

In November, Metrolinx published its plans for improving rail service in the GTA. If they were to go ahead, they would revolutionize train travel in the GTA and greatly change commutes in Weston.

By 2031, if the plans are implemented (that’s a big ‘if’) GO service in Weston will be:

  • Electrified
  • Every 10 minutes
  • Faster, with a 13-minute trip between Weston and Union
  • Less expensive, because it will use electric trains much of the time
  • More accessible, with station improvements.

The plan would also improve Union Station, allowing the UP Express to run four-car trains, and GO to double train capacity.

The GO Expansion Business Case does not say what will happen to the UP Express in Weston. It seems likely, however, that it would be axed. The UPX will also be stopping in Mount Dennis and Bloor, slowing the train en route to the airport.

But improved GO service, would, in some ways, make the GO train even better than the UP Express. It would be as fast, but more frequent in the rush hour. The trains would be larger, and riders may have a better chance of getting a seat. The locomotives would also be electric, instead of diesel, allaying concerns about pollution and noise.

On the downside, it is not clear how long the trains would run every day. I love that the UPX runs late and early. Nor are GO trains as fancy as the UPX, and we’d have to bring your own in-ride magazines. (Has anybody seen an On The UP lately?)

Service would be improved between Union and Bramalea on the Kitchener Line

Metrolinx forecasts that GO ridership in Weston would nearly double, as it would system-wide. Perhaps optimistically, they also say that the increased ridership would pay for the system expansion. Your correspondent has his doubts.

These are the same people who built the UP Express, which was supposed to be a  premium-fare, deluxo trip to the airport for the world-weary traveller willing to pay $29 one-way. It got rolling at exactly the same time as Uber, and ridership was dismal until the province forced Metrolinx to slash fares and let the proles ride. The UPX still loses about $20 million (by my conservative calculation) every year—about $6 for every rider.