Fuel Cell Technology Turn Around?

Readers may remember a couple of  WestonWeb articles here and here  skewering the fuel-cell technology proposal championed by former Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca. Mr. Del Duca for some reason had fallen in love with fuel cell technology and wanted to see if it could be used instead of catenary (overhead) power lines when diesel trains such a GO and UP Express are replaced. A trial budget to check feasibility was originally set at $200,000, now it’s expanded to $3 million.

Now that the Liberal government has been given its marching orders, (precisely for stupidity like this) it will be interesting to see the reaction of Doug Ford to  spending millions on this complete waste of money. Already, one Metrolinx Board member and CEO Phil Verster are publicly distancing themselves from the boondoggle. Look for more people at Metrolinx to claim they always thought it was a very bad idea.

Here’s a flow chart comparison of the two technologies. (Click to enlarge)

It would be far better for Metrolinx to investigate battery technology for powering trains as Bombardier is doing in the U.K.. The cost savings could be considerable in the long run. It would also eliminate the need to build an extensive catenary wiring network which is expensive to build and maintain.

Local man graduates from police college

Shevan Ellis in his cadet’s uniform.

Congratulations to local man Shevan Ellis who graduated from the Toronto Police College last week and is now working as a police constable in Toronto Police’s 53 Division. According to toronto.com, Mr. Ellis came to the Weston Road and Eglinton area from Jamaica in 1998 at the age of 12. He worked in Mount Dennis in the field of mental health and thought that he had something to offer the police in terms of an understanding of mental health issues.

Read more in TPS news and toronto.com.

No smoking at 10 Wilby.

10 Wilby Crescent – artists concept.

Anticipating the impending legalizing of marijuana, Options For Homes announced on Friday that it will ban smoking anywhere inside or on the property of its new 22 storey condo apartment at 10 Wilby Crescent.

Non-smokers who live in apartments already may know that stale cigarette smell can drift insidiously through conduits and other gaps between apartments. The impending legality of marijuana has prompted OFH to get ahead of the game and ensure a smoke-free environment for occupants. Vaping will be allowed – so it’s not a complete ban.

Re-writing an existing condominium corporation’s declaration to ban smoking in a building is a major undertaking requiring an 80% vote of owners in favour. Options For Homes feels that starting off with a no smoking ban will put the condo board ahead of the game and make the issue up front so that purchasers can make an informed decision. OFH claims that 75% of prospective purchasers are more likely to purchase in a smoke-free building.

Apparently landlords of rental buildings can ban smoking in all or part of a building and a rental building can eventually become smoke free by requiring new tenants to not smoke. Existing tenancy agreements must be honoured but once the smoker leaves, landlords can insist on no smoking from the new occupants.

Options for homes believe that their new smoke-free building will be a first for Toronto. Read more here.

Some election thoughts

The official York South-Weston election results are here. There were 37,296 votes cast or 50.56% of eligible voters who took the trouble to cast a ballot compared to 46.1% in 2014. Faisal Hassan 36.1% Mark DeMontis: 33% Laura Albanese: 28% Grad Murray: 2.5% Bonnie Hu: 0.6%

President Ford™ will be grasping the levers of power in a few short weeks. Every cloud has a silver lining and there will no doubt be initiatives from Mr. Ford’s team that will be good for the province. Even Mike Harris wasn’t all bad.

What lessons can we learn from this election and its result?

    1. Our electoral system needs reform. The popular vote was PC: 40.6%, NDP: 33.7%, LIB: 19.3%. The total progressive vote was 53% and yet because it was split, a government representing 40.5% of the electorate has absolute power for the next four years.
    2. Faisal Hassan fought well to win the seat for the NDP. He ran an effective campaign with a strong team that could be useful during October’s civic election. Let’s hope he can get up to speed quickly and be an effective voice for York South-Weston.
    3. Here in York South-Weston, local PC boy Mark DeMontis surfed the blue wave and almost eked out a victory. WestonWeb articles about him were insanely popular in terms of reader numbers so it was clear he would do well. I wonder if he regrets obeying orders from PCHQ to skip the debate.
    4. Local candidate Grad Murray bumped the riding’s share of Green Party votes by a mere tenth of a percentage point over the 2014 result. Let’s hope the well-spoken and knowledgeable Mr. Murray can stick around and build on his vote share. Ontario’s Green’s now have an actual MPP, meaning that they will have a seat at debates next time. Their share of the popular vote dropped from 4.84% to 4.64% so it’s not an unqualified success.
    5. Kathleen Wynne may be a decent person but she failed to support her candidates by rooting out and exposing the corruption and bad decision-making in her party. She had five years to distance herself from the scandals and boot from cabinet flagrant opportunists like Steven Del Duca and Glen Murray but failed to do so. Her cynical, last minute concession speech was designed to hobble the NDP, indicating that her true passion was power, not progressive policies. Her claim that strikes would be never ending under the NDP was straight from the Tory Party handbook.
    6. Doug Ford’s victory speech began at the same time as Kathleen Wynne’s resignation speech. Ford’s team has vast political experience so this was no accident. It may be an insight into Mr. Ford’s style of governing.
    7. On the subject of speeches, Andrea Horwath’s last night seemed irrationally exuberant. Admittedly, she has done well, becoming the Leader of the Opposition by moving to the left of her 2014 stance.  Even so, some of her election promises seemed on the fly and not well thought out. For example, doing away with ‘Time Of Use’ hydro billing would have compromised conservation attempts and battery technology applications. Excessive subsidy of hydro bills goes against energy conservation. Far better to put the money into getting people off heating homes with electricity.
    8. York South-Weston’s fragile economy will be done no favours by Mr Ford freezing the minimum wage at $14. The promised ending of provincial income tax for these workers will do little to soften a potential $1800 annual loss.
    9. The end of Carbon Tax money may mean problems for the Mount Dennis Net Zero initiative.
    10. The Eglinton Crosstown line was scheduled to run above ground along Eglinton past Scarlett on its way (eventually) to the Airport. Defeated Etobicoke Centre MPP, Yvan Baker was a proponent of burying the line. Look for Doug Ford to endorse that (very expensive) concept.
    11. Lastly, while every cloud has a silver lining, the need for Mr. Ford to find billions of dollars out of thin air will target the most vulnerable in York South-Weston and elsewhere in Toronto. New MPP Hassan should make it a priority to anticipate and publicize the ‘efficiencies’ that will have an adverse effect on his most vulnerable constituents.

Padovani tackles TD Canada Trust closing.

TD Canada Trust in Weston.

Chiara Padovani wants to be York South-Weston’s next councillor for Ward 11, replacing long-time incumbent Frances Nunziata. She has become quite active in the ward and among other things is closely monitoring the state of retail in YSW.

She recently promised that she would contact the Financial Consumer Agency regarding the recently announced closure of Weston’s TD Canada Trust branch. The closure was announced without any community consultation and Ms Padovani is seeking such a consultation by writing to the FCAC’s Commissioner, Lucie Tedesco.

Here is the letter that Ms Padovani sent:

Re: File with reference number 363484

Dear Commissioner Tedesco,

I am writing to request a meeting regarding the closure of the TD Canada Trust Bank located at 1979 Weston Road in Toronto Ontario (Branch Number 335).

This marks the fourth TD Branch closure in York South-Weston, a community that has become the target of predatory lending and payday loans. The bank has failed to fulfill its obligation to consult with the community, and many customers – myself included – did not even receive notice of the bank’s closure.

As a resident and local social worker in the community, I cannot stress the importance of providing fair access to financial institutions. Had TD Canada Trust consulted with the community, they would have become aware of the social and economic hardship that this closure will cause to the residents of Weston including but not limited to:

Proximity – The branch is within walking distance of over 10,000 residents. Many of these residents do not own cars and spending nearly $7 on the TTC fare required to get to the new location will be a significant barrier for low-income customers. In Forest Hill, a far less densely populated neighbourhood, there are seven TD Banks within close proximity of each other.

Accessibility – The branch is located in a neighbourhood where many residents are seniors and people with disabilities. These residents rely on this branch because they can access banking services without having to travel far.

Lack of financial alternatives – CIBC, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust branches have already closed down and left the neighbourhood. Predatory lenders are quickly filling the gap for financial services in York South-Weston. As you know, these institutions trap hard-working families in a cycle of debt and economic violence that will threaten the quality of life for too many in this community.

These are just some of the reasons I ask that the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada convene a public meeting between the community and TD Canada Trust to discuss and resolve the challenges posed by the bank’s imminent closure.

Sincerely,

Chiara Padovani

I contacted the MP for York South-Weston Ahmed Hussen a couple of weeks ago regarding the closure and a staff member tried to fob me off to the Ottawa office bizarrely claiming that it was not a local matter. After persisting, the staffer said he would inform the minister and call back but never did. Apparently that’s not an unusual experience.

If you would like to add your voice to the initiative, contact the FCAC at 1-866-461-3222 and mention file number 363484.

Local lawyer wants to be mayor of Toronto

Saron Gebresellassi (from Facebook).

High flying local lawyer, 31-year old Saron Gebresellassi is running for mayor of Toronto. She came from Eritrea to Canada as an infant in 1989 and according to an article in The Lawyer’s Daily, her impressive list of accomplishments ranges from fluency in six languages to classical piano and flute playing. She graduated debt free from three universities thanks to winning several private scholarships. While she’s unlikely to defeat the incumbent, she will no doubt raise the profile of York South-Weston and introduce some important issues into the campaign.

TD Canada Trust closing Weston branch.

TD Canada Trust bids farewell to Weston and hundreds of potential new customers.

TD Canada Trust has officially announced the upcoming closure of its Weston branch at 1979 Weston Road. Adam broke the story last year. The bean counters at TD Canada Trust have decided that closing the Weston branch will save them more money than the potential loss of clients. According to the bank handout regarding the closure,

Prior to making a decision to close a particular branch and move customer accounts to another branch, TD Canada Trust always undertakes a thorough review of the customer impact of the move. If our review indicates that the move may result in some particular concerns for all or a certain group of the affected customers, TD Canada Trust will hold an information session to discuss our plans and how we propose to deal with those concerns.

From September 21, Weston customers who stay with TD will be expected to schlep along to 2547 Weston Road at the 401. It’s another example of the banking industry reaping huge profits while abandoning their customers. This also makes room for payday loan companies to fill the void; unconscionable in a community with a fair number of vulnerable residents.

There is a ray of hope via a federal government agency called ‘The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada‘ (FCAC).  According to the blurb that came with news of the closure,

“You should know, however, that under the regulations, the Commissioners of the FCAC may require TD Canada Trust representatives to hold and attend a meeting with FCAC representatives and interested parties, in order to exchange views about the closure of a branch IF:

  1. An individual from the area affected by the closure of the branch submits a written request to the FCAC for the meeting; and

2. TD Canada Trust has not adequately consulted the community about the branch closure; and

3. The request is not frivolous or vexatious.”

I’d like to know who the bank consulted with before deciding it was ok to close the branch. My wife has an account at the branch and this is the first she’d heard about the closing.

If you feel you haven’t been consulted enough about the move, submit your non-frivolous written request to:

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
427 Laurier Avenue West, 6th Floor
Ottawa ON K1R 1B9

Phone contact for TD Canada Trust: 1-866-222-3456

Phone contact for FCAC: 1-866-461-3222

Perhaps this is where York South-Weston’s non-resident MP, Honourable Ahmed Hussen could get involved. Scotiabank’s closing was seemingly ignored by Mr. Hussen – a self-described social activist. I contacted his office and a staff member said they would pass my concerns about the latest bank closing to the minister.

Ahmed Hussen MP: 416-656-2526