Speed bumps on MacDonald Ave

InsideToronto.com is reporting that speed bumps will be installed along MacDonald Avenue in response to many years of reckless driving along the street.

The vote of the community council was contentious; the councillors overruled city bureaucrats’ recommendations. 40% of residents voted in a survey on the subject. Staff require 50% of residents to respond to give their blessing.

Metrolinx wants another (and better) link to the airport

Yesterday Metrolinx affirmed its plan to build a rail link to the airport. But they weren’t endorsing the Blue 22, the private airport train that will run through Weston. Metrolinx will be building competing train line: a light rail link to Pearson.

Metrolinx’s “Big 5”  program will complete 5 major transit projects over the next 10 years. One of these is the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, which will run from Scarborough to the airport. The line will be high capacity (about 5000 passengers an hour), frequent (every 3–6 minutes) and cheap ($3 or so). Light rail isn’t the same as rail-rail; it’s more like a subway crossed with a streetcar.

The LRT will make connections to the Yonge and University subway and to the proposed Jane St LRT. Thus it will serve the same locations as the Blue 22, if less directly. It will also be quite fast, especially for travellers heading midtown and not to Union. For $3, the Eg train will get you to the Yonge subway station in 48 minutes. In contrast, the Blue 22 would save 19 minutes but cost $20 more.

Both will be fast, frequent, and comfortable. But only the Eglinton LRT is cheap, connects directly with the subway, and takes riders midtown.

The private nature of the Blue 22 may yet be its undoing; the Eglinton LRT is the better way.

Route of the Eglinton LRT

Grattan park restoration nearly complete

Some things are great because they’re retro-cool and undiscovered. And then some things are just plain great.

The Grattan Street park used to be great because it was small, unused, and stuck in the 70s, with old, clunky swings and stubby beer bottles lying around. Now it is one of the smallest, cutest parks in all of Toronto. It’s just plain great.  Over the past month, this urban gem has been completely renovated, improved, and made modern. The old wood benches and rusty swingsets are gone; new, safe, high-quality play-structures have been brought in and landscaping has been done to remove an ugly concrete water tower base.

Westonian Mark Dos Reis says, “It was a really great park back in the 70s and 80s, but it fell into a state of disrepair.” In consultation with the community and architects, the city of Toronto improved the landscaping by making it more level and removed the decaying concrete and wooden structures around the park.

The neglect had made the park something of a hangout for teens who took to smoking pot and drinking beer. While Dos Reis was generous about the teens, he did say that the effect of the renovations has been positive: “I like it. I’d rather have little kids. There’s a lot of little kids in the neighbourhood and a daycare.” The park will be very nice for them, he noted, as it has only one entrance and exit, so the minders can be sure the kids won’t wander.

Before the renovationBefore the renovation
Before the renovation
After the renovationAfter the renovationAfter the renovation
After the renovation

Weston’s real estate prices fairly flat

Prospective homebuyers will be feeling the pinch as mortgage rates rise, especially as prices in Toronto hit new record highs. Prospective Westonites stand to benefit, though: prices in Weston are still substantially below the district and city averages, and growth in prices is slow.

According to the Toronto Real Estate board, last month the average home in Weston’s district sold for $318,000. This is up only slightly from $313,000 in April of 2009. Weston is still much cheaper than neighbouring areas; in western Toronto (including Weston), the average home sold for $404,000: 27% more than here. The average home in all of Toronto sold for $373,000: 17% more.

In what may be a sign that few people know about Weston, homes here sell more slowly than elsewhere. Local real estate spent an average of 31 days on the market, far more than the average of 22 in the western district and 21 for Toronto as a whole.

Despite homesellers’ wait, many more properties did sell compared to last year. 104 homes changed owners in sector W04, compared to only 54 in April of last year. This is likely due to the terrible economic uncertainty of early 2009.

There is a downside, of course, to the affordable real estate in Weston. Those looking to sell their homes here are unable to capitalize on the large price increases the rest of Toronto has seen.

Metrolinx to report progress of electrification study

Metrolinx will soon tell us how much progress they have made studying electric trains.

Metrolinx and GO Transit have been studying the possibility of electrifying their part of the transit system since January. The final report should be finished by the end of the year, and the progress report will be delivered on Thursday, May 27th from 7:00 pm until 9:30 p.m. at the Lithuanian House, 1573 Bloor Street West. Everyone is welcome.

Electrifying would eliminate the diesel pollution from the forthcoming Blue 22 and  increased Georgetown GO service. These services are set to put as many as several hundred more daily trains through Weston. Lobbying from concerned residents and the Weston Community Coalition has already forced the provincial government and Metrolinx to make several concessions, but they have resisted full electrification.

The Farmers’ Market is Open!

Weston’s wonderful Farmers’ Market opened for the season today. Several old favourites were back–Ken’s Back Bacon Sandwiches, Thames River Melons and The Egg Man put in appearances–and there was at least one promising new addition: The Pie Man from Pie Land.

The Pie Man has fantastic Trinidadian beef, chicken and potato pies and wonderful desserts–highly recommended by my entire family. Ken’s sandwiches smelled as wonderful as usual, but he didn’t bring his usual entourage of sous-chefs and assistants this weekend. The Egg Man has an excellent new trailer, larger and better than the one he had last year.

Saturday was a quiet start to what is sure to be another fantastic season.

the egg man