MPPs savage UPX

MPPs Michael Harris (Kitchener) and Cheri DiNovo (downtown) have been savaging the failure of the UP Express to find riders.

DiNovo and Harris took Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig to task in a meeting of the Public Accounts committee and again on the floor of the legislature. Harris pointed out that the UPX cost “$450 million” (that’s a  low estimate) and is 90% empty.

He also asked whether the forecasting was overly optimistic–McCuaig denied it–and demanded ridership numbers. McCuaig said that about 71,000 people took it in September, and 80,000 users took the train in October. Even if 80,000 is accurate, ridership has not improved; the same number rode it in September.

McCuaig denied that they were going to lower the fares and said, both to DiNovo and Harris, that there had been no discussions with the city about making it part of public transit.

DiNovo asked when the UPX would be electrified. Former Environment Minister Glen Murray had said that it would be done by 2017. McCuaig said that wasn’t going to happen. He even suggested, in wicked bureaucrateze, that it might not be done by 2025. “The end of the 10-year horizon does not mean that that’s when this particular corridor will be electrified”, he managed to speak.

UP Express fares

Metrolinx appears to have dropped its 2-for-1 UP Express coupon, despite the CEO’s promise to the Ontario Legislature that the promotion would run for ” the balance of this calendar year”. The coupon would have attracted new local riders to the service, although, as a long-time commenter pointed out, it was much less useful to Westonians.

Metrolinx will be lowering some UPX fares, however; now, instead of a chest-grasping $53 to ride round-trip, it will be merely a gasp-inducing $44. Uber would charge $80 or so for the same trip (less from Weston) but would also seat four and pick you up at your door.

 

 

Naughty and nice launch appeal to unelected arbiter

Thousands of naughty and nice citizens lined Weston Road to petition Santa Claus this afternoon.

Claus, clad in a red suit, made a brief appearance, waving and laughing at the crowds. Despite his imperious position high in a truck and flanked by police, he seemed to your correspondent to have heard the appeals of his tiny but numerous constituency.

Claus will announce his decisions on the morning of the 25th.

Dan Harris: Walkway is important

Plans are almost in place for the new 30-storey rental tower in downtown Weston. The second-last hurdle was easily stepped over at the November 10, Etobicoke York Community (EYCC) Council meeting when councillors approved the project with some minor modifications. Interestingly, one of those modifications was to double down on the proposal by prohibiting the current owners, Rockport Group from demolishing or converting any of the units into condominiums for 20 years.

A total of 432 units will be built on the site including 26 affordable live-work units for artists.

The City Planning Department broke its own urban planning and zoning guidelines in approving the building (8 storeys is the legal height limit in that part of Weston).

Weston Village as planners projected back in 2004. Note the conspicuous lack of a 30-storey rental apartment building.
Weston Village of the future as planners projected back in 2004. Note the conspicuous lack of a 30-storey rental apartment building.

Weston resident Dan Harris has written letters to Toronto’s Planning Department, specifically to Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat. (Readers may wish to check out one of her TedX talks in which she stresses the importance of providing residents information, analysis and evidence in order to generate ‘understanding’ of development proposals – around the 12 minute mark.) In his correspondence, Harris maintains that no rationale has yet been put forward that actually justifies the breaking of the current 8-storey height limit on Weston buildings. He is also frustrated by the glacial speed of and lack of meaningful responses to his objections. The only official reaction has been from the Community Planning Director for Etobicoke York, Neil Cresswell. Mr. Cresswell promised a further response would come last week but failed to deliver. Without the courtesy of rationale behind decisions, Harris maintains that it is hard to present any form of rebuttal.

While Harris is realistic about the project’s likelihood of becoming a reality, he is attempting to at least get a formalized pedestrian walkway between the east side of King and the new Hub. The City’s position appears to be that while the walkway is needed for traffic access and so will be accessible by pedestrian traffic, it will not be formalized through legislation.. Harris is concerned that if not legislated, pedestrian access may be blocked at some point in the future cutting off safe access from King to priority destinations such as the two schools in the area and even the Hub itself.

The ball is still in the Planning Department’s court. WestonWeb will alert readers to any responses.

 

No refugees in Weston

Laura Albanese says there will be no refugees in Weston, according to Frances Nunziata’s circular.

This week, the Liberal federal government released their plans to resettle refugees. The headline announcement was a drastic reduction in the number Canada would accept; breaking an election promise, the Liberals said that they would accept only far fewer than the 25,000 they had promised. Of those accepted, many will be privately sponsored and will not need housing.

The former hospital site on Church had been proposed as a resettlement site by the provincial Liberals. Because of the reduced number of refugees, it will not be required.