Crime this week

A 28-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by a man near Weston and Lawrence at 1:15 am on November 17. The victim was approached by a man who hit her with a beer bottle before assaulting her. Police are looking for a black male between  22 and 28 years, 5’8” to 5’9”, with brown eyes, short black dreadlocks, and a thin build.



Clean Train Coalition loses legal action

The Clean Train Coalition has lost in court to Metrolinx. Their case was dismissed, and the CTC was told to pay Metrolinx’s court costs–$30,000 according to the CBC.

The CTC was asking for a judicial review of Metrolinx’s decision to purchase diesel trains. They had alleged that the decision was improper because it was rushed to meet the Pan-Am deadline and made before the environmental assessment was completed. The court disagreed.

Metrolinx said in a press release that it “welcomes the Divisional Court’s decision to dismiss the action”.

Suri Weinberg-Linsky, the CTC’s media contact, said

We are disappointed with this bad decision. But the matter is not settled, far from it. We will consider our right to appeal to a higher court. There is a fundamental principle at stake, that citizens have the right to seek legal redress when harmful decisions have been made by public authorities. Metrolinx has failed in its duty to consider alternatives to diesel. The McGuinty Liberals may be happy with this decision, but there will be a price to pay for their disregard of public health.

About the $30,000 in costs that the coalition will have to pay, she said, “we welcome all donations to our website and will consider this in deciding our appeal strategy.”

More details on potential Pelmo land sale

Chris Tonks, the school trustee for our district, opposes the sale of land around Pelmo Park school. He says, however, that the possible sale of school land around Toronto is because the the Ministry of Education is drying up capital funding for schools, and there is “some immediate need” for capital funding.

Tonks said that the schools in Weston are “very well enrolled” right now, and that HJ Alexander is “bursting at the seams” because of an influx of former St John the Evangelist students. He said that he wants to keep the green space around Pelmo Park intact to accommodate future students, since the redevelopment in Weston may lead to increased enrollment. “Pelmo Park is really the only site we have capacity to expand. I don’t think we should sacrifice that capacity. If we sever and we lose that, where are we going to get that greenspace to build?” he said.

Responding to readers’ questions about merging schools in Weston, I asked Vince Baglione, the Principal of Weston Memorial, about the state of his building. He said that the school is fine condition, though they will need a new roof and to work with a few building “quirks”. Both men said that the board is moving to a K–8 model, but that this will be several years away; according to Tonks “there’s no money for expansion right now.”

I tried to get Laura Albanese’s response, but she and I played phone tag over the past few days. I missed two of her calls because I was out. She was in a meeting when I called her back.

Clean Trains get their day in court

The Clean Train Coalition was in court yesterday fighting Metrolinx over its decision to order diesel trains. The Star has a long and balanced article describing the lawsuit. The CTC is suing, it says, because Metrolinx put politics ahead of good policy, and because the trains were ordered before electrification was fully considered.

Provincial transportation agency Metrolinx had no business ordering new diesel trains for the Pearson-to-Union Station rail link before completing a feasibility study on electrifying the line, a lawyer for Toronto’s Clean Train Coalition argued before an Ontario Divisional Court panel on Monday.

The CTC… wants the court to order Metrolinx to set aside its $53 million order for diesel multiple units (DMUs) [saying] Metrolinx was guided by political interests rather than good transportation planning in agreeing to an ARL completion in time for the 2015 PanAm Games.

Mike Sullivan, our MP, took the opportunity of the suit to speak in the House. He was critical of the Ontario Liberals, and asked for the Feds to push electrification on the project.

The McGuinty Liberals in Ontario are pushing Metrolinx to use diesel, despite the World Health Organization recently declaring diesel exhaust to be a Class One Carcinogen.  They are pushing to make sure the project is ready for the 2015 Pan-Am Games.  Ironically, the Olympic body responsible, ODEPA/PASO, has declared these games to be the first ever green and sustainable games.  Diesel trains are neither green nor sustainable.

There is considerable federal money in this project.  I would urge the Federal Minister of Transportation to tell Ontario to do the right thing and make these trains electric now, as any world class city should.

Pelmo Park School land may be severed to pay bills

The Toronto Star reports that the TDSB is thinking of selling school land to developers to pay for renovations. One of the schools facing the loss is Pelmo Park in Weston.

According to The Star, Pelmo may be forced to sell 2.9 acres of land—about one-third of its property. The proceeds would be used to put money into the board’s capital budget, which has been frozen by the provincial government. The school board says it has a $3 billion dollar capital debt and a $30 million capital deficit.

Chris Tonks, our trustee, said that he was unable to discuss the particulars of the proposal until after the meeting tonight, but added “I am opposed to any severance and sale of Pelmo Park Public School green space if proposed. In any event, any recommendation by TDSB staff to sever land at any school property should be brought out to the communities that are impacted”.