Nunziata: be nice and clear your ice.

Yesterday, Councillor Nunziata issued an email reminding people and businesses about snow removal and being good neighbours. At the end, she gave the word to businesses:

Finally, business owners must clear the adjacent sidewalk of snow or ice within 12 hours of the end of a snowfall, as per the Snow and Ice Clearing Bylaw. The fine for not clearing snow from public property can be up to $135.

Frances Nunziata

Read the councillor’s email here.

Walking around Weston today, it seems obvious that some major corporations, for example, Bell have failed in their duty to clear their sidewalks.

Looking along Belleview Avenue towards Weston Road on January 21. The sidewalk is buried under a huge mound of snow removed from their parking lot.

No doubt a fine of $135 is very small potatoes for the mighty Bell corporation but forcing pedestrians to walk in traffic is very bad for public relations. They might want to uncover their missing sidewalk along Hickory Tree Road too.

Bell’s sidewalk in balmier times. Google.
Bell’s sidewalk on January 21st.

Metrolinx talks Crosstown

CEO Phil Verster is featured on a ‘year-end wrap up’ Metrolinx video in which he talks about the Eglinton Crosstown Line’s progress to date and where it is heading next. The video has lots of dreamy drone footage and overhead shots of Mount Dennis and other stations.

“Our goal remains the same: to deliver modern rapid transit to Toronto’s Eglinton Avenue. 2021 saw us make strides in delivering upon that goal with significant progress made to the 19 kilometre transit line.”

Phil Verster

While Mr Verster claims that construction crews are nearing completion on a number of key locations, he fails to give many details or indeed when exactly the public may begin to use the line.

If it was good news, no doubt he would have told us. As one wag noted in the comments, “Even the year end video is late.”.

Today in Weston

The cleared sidewalk outside Dollarama this morning.

Two days after the biggest snowfall in years, Dollarama wins the prize for the cleanest and widest sidewalk in Weston.

On the naughty step must go Bell who couldn’t organize clearing their own parking lot or sidewalk resulting in their trucks blocking a whole lane on Belleview forcing pedestrians into the single lane of traffic.

Dr. John Campbell

Dr. John Campbell is a retired G.P. living in Carlisle in the U.K. He produces an almost daily video on the state of Covid in the U.K. and various parts of the world including Canada. His insights on the spread of Covid and his vitamin and mineral intake recommendations are invaluable. His most recent video can be seen above.

This is unrelated to Weston / Mount Dennis but I believe readers will find Dr. Campbell’s videos to be a useful resource.

Update: Dr. Campbell’s doctorate is in nursing education. He was a nursing educator at the University of Cumbria. Thanks to Hans Havermann for spotting my error.

Further update – here is Dr Campbell’s take on vitamin D. According to a growing number of people in medicine, most people are deficient in vitamin D.

Hussen gets his marching orders

Prime Minister Trudeau recently sent members of his Cabinet their marching orders for the new session of Parliament. Housing Minister and local MP Ahmed Hussen has been given a daunting list that probably won’t be tackled because of the transitory nature of minority governments. Such governments have a lifespan of around 18 months so the clock is ticking. There’s a whole lot of aspirational societal goals included in the letter but these are the ones that will most affect housing affordability. Minister Hussen is directed to help Canada’s housing shortage by,

  • legislating against rent gouging and renovictions
  • instituting an anti home-flipping tax
  • temporarily banning foreign buyers
  • curbing excessive profits in the housing industry
  • increasing consumer protection in real estate transactions
  • banning blind bidding in real estate deals
  • encouraging renters to enter the housing market through rent-to-own schemes
  • supporting office conversion into residential housing

Many of these directives were contained in the Liberals’ 2021 election manifesto. How much of this list will be accomplished by 2023 when the next federal election will likely occur? My cynical guess is very little but the items will probably be recycled for the 2023 Liberal Platform.

Read the full Trudeau letter here.

Artscape – a cautionary tale.

There’s an interesting article in the Globe and Mail detailing events unfolding in Toronto’s Distillery District. Back in the closing days of the 20th Century, TTD developers took advantage of Section 37 to build higher and in exchange, granted below market rates to artists through Artscape for a period of 20 years. Sadly, that subsidy ends in 2022 and around 70 artists are being turfed out to make room for a college. These are the artists who created an interest in the area when nobody wanted to go there. There was hope that Artscape might be able to negotiate a new deal but it didn’t happen. The Globe article makes an excellent point, namely that bad architecture, which will be around for a long time was traded for an artist subsidy lasting only 20 years.

Perhaps this is a lesson that we can learn from in the future (and by we I mean Councillor Nunziata and local resident’s associations). Concessions made as part of Section 37 should be as permanent as the crappy architecture that generated them.

Read the Globe article here.

Metrolinx news

Weston Go Station:

Work at Weston GO station continues in order to complete the link to a fourth passenger rail line and create a fourth platform. This will allow the UP Express to use separate platforms at the station and enable all-day GO service in the future. The track was already in place but was missing the section at the station. The new platform will be fully accessible, heated during cold weather and have a warm waiting area. It should be ready next year.

Perhaps Metrolinx will re-visit the idea of VIA trains stopping in Weston to allow passengers from south-west Ontario the option of hopping onto the UP Express to the Airport. To quote Mike Sullivan,

Via desperately wants to stop in Weston. Their trains come from Sarnia, London and Kitchener, and patrons who want to go to the airport have to go all the way to Union and double back, adding about an hour to their trip.

Metrolinx refuses to let them. There are 4 trains per day (two in each direction) and Metrolinx says their dwell time (the time it takes to unload and load passengers) is too long and would interfere with the UP express schedule. They did suggest that when the 4th track is in place maybe things would change.

It may also have to do with the Kitchener part of the trips. Metrolinx wants to be the train of record from Kitchener, and VIA is in competition.

Mike Sullivan speaking to Weston Web in 2018.

Eventually the Kitchener line will either be electrified or hydrogenated. For some reason, after studying electrification for more than a decade, both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have wanted to throw some money at investigating whether or not converting the Kitchener line to run on hydrogen would be a good idea. Weston Web had the answer four years ago in 2017. It still stands.

Looking north at the new platform under construction. Metrolinx image. Click to enlarge.

Read the station upgrade details from Metrolinx here.

Eglinton Crosstown Line westward extension:

Further south, the Ford government seems committed to an extension of the Crosstown line to Renforth and eventually, Pearson Airport. The line will follow Eglinton, mostly underground apart from a stretch over the Humber which will be on an elevated section away from traffic. Metrolinx is asking interested parties to make themselves known. Actual approval and construction is many years away but the Ontario Government seems eager to show local voters that it still taking steps to support the project. Those who think that the Scarborough Subway is a good idea will agree that this extension is pure genius and well worth the billions to be spent on it.

The proposed Eglinton Crosstown westward extension showing the elevated section of the new line in blue. From Metrolinx. Click to enlarge.
Artist concept of the elevated section with the existing Eglinton bridge behind. Those look like catenary wires to me. From Metrolinx. Click to enlarge.

Read more details from Metrolinx here.