Transit Meeting Tonight

From Reddit.
From Reddit.

Tonight there is a meeting designed to inform residents about the current state of these transit issues:

  • SmartTrack
  • The (downtown) Relief Line
  • Scarborough Subway Extension
  • Electrified GO Network
  • New Stations on the GO Rail Network
  • Integrated Transit Fares
  • Regional Transportation Plan Review

No doubt there will be an opportunity for residents to express their views (see what I did there?) at a meeting with representatives from the TTC, Metrolinx and GO Transit in attendance. Also attending will be politicians, MP Ahmed Hussen, MPP Laura Albanese, along with Councillors Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio. Perhaps some insights may be gleaned from the current state of thinking at these exalted levels.

  • Time: 7pm
  • Place York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West.

Refugees should arrive in a few weeks

Refugees sponsored in part by a local church group should arrive in a few weeks. They are a “young Syrian couple: Hamza and Sohair. Both are professionals, one in IT and the other in agricultural research”, according to Michael Kooiman.

Edna Harding, a long-time Westonian, is one of the prime movers in this laudable achievement. The first effort to sponsor refugees fell through early this year, when the group lost contact with the mother-child pair.

Albanese combatting cheque-cashing stores

It’s not every day you see an MP working to strangle one of the only thriving business sectors in her riding. Still, it’s hard to disapprove of Laura Albanese’s efforts to strengthen credit unions and weaken cheque-cashing stores, measures that got a big boost in yesterday’s budget; her proposals were one of the signature announcements.

Albanese’s rules will make credit unions more competitive by changing deposit-insurance rules; reducing barriers to doing business with cities, universities, schools and hospitals; and “providing consumers with alternatives to high-cost payday loans.”



The next UPX

David Collenette, the ‘brains’ behind the UPX, is hard at work again, this time as a $500-a-day consultant for a high-speed rail project outlined in yesterday’s provincial budget.

He’ll be working on a ‘SuperCorridor’, “bringing high-speed rail to [southern Ontario] as part of the Province’s Moving Ontario Forward plan.”

I can’t wait.

Not content with one half-billion screw up, Collenette is, the province says, “working with Metrolinx and freight partners to explore potential improvements to GO rail services along the Toronto–Kitchener corridor.”

You could be forgiven for thinking we’d been through that already.

This is his •press• photo. Couldn’t he have edited out the evil smirk?

Planning Studies in the works for Weston and Mount Dennis

At the recent Etobicoke York Community Council, two strikingly similar motions were passed. Both give the go-ahead to Toronto City Council to review the current planning framework for two stretches of Weston Road, receive input from the community and report back with recommendations. Here is an extract from the Parke to Wilby stretch:

That Etobicoke York Community Council:
1. Request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to:

  1. undertake a review of the current planning framework for the study area including: built-form, density, height, and public realm of the properties on Weston Road between Parke Street and Wilby Crescent/Wright Avenue;
  2. consult with the community, including landowners and other stakeholder groups, together with the Ward Councillor, to understand the community’s concerns and to develop a vision for future development in the study area; and
  3. report back on the findings of the review and to provide recommendations for changes, if necessary, to the planning framework for the study area.

2. Request that the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning prioritize this planning study on the work program for 2017 or earlier.

Pic 1
Weston Road from Parke Street to Wilby Crescent
Weston Road from Ray Avenue to Humber Boulevard.
Weston Road from Ray Avenue to Humber Boulevard.

Both reviews are at the prompting of Councillor Frances Nunziata. Read the letter regarding Weston Village here and the one for Mount Dennis here.

According to the councillor, we need to re-visit the planning frameworks because of transportation changes like the UP Express and the Crosstown Line’s new Mount Dennis station.

Call me a cynic but we had a very nice plan for the northern section of Weston Road corridor keeping building heights to between 3 and 8 storeys but it was easily circumvented when the Weston Hub was approved.

Why bother coming up with a ‘vision’ and planning by-laws when these things are carved in jello and so easily put aside?

Further facts of fare slashing

Twitterers and the community had a few thoughts on the changes that might come to Weston as a result of the new, lowered UPX fares.

Paul Ferreira pointed out that there is little reason to keep the GO stop here if the UPX costs the same and runs much more frequently. Surely few people get off the train here in the morning. The UPX, which runs 19 hours a day could entirely replace it.

I worried that Metrolinx would pull a bait-and-switch and raise fares again. But Bruce McCuaig, the CEO of Metrolinx, took to Metro Morning today to talk about the fares and ridership.

Unsurprisingly, the service will not cover its costs—in fact, he said that making money will be “pushed out in the future. But there are no plans to get us hooked and raise the fare again if ridership increases; prices will be reviewed only once a year.

Finally, the new prices will take effect March 9.

Several questions remain:

  • How will the service be integrated into the TTC? It would be lovely if we could transfer at low cost to the subway.
  • When and how will it connect to the Eglinton LRT in Mount Dennis? It seems impossible that it wouldn’t.
  • Will more stops, in Mount Dennis and Liberty Village perhaps, be built?
  • I think it will be great for commuters out; could it draw commuters in? Will people from elsewhere come work in Weston? Perhaps the low commercial rents and densities could generate a renaissance.