Albanese bill to electrify trains

On December 1, Laura Albanese tabled a private member’s bill in the Ontario Parliament to call for electrification of GO’s commuter trains and the Air-Rail link. Her motion comes as Metrolinx is preparing its final report on electrification, but after Metrolinx announced that the Airport Rail Link will be diesel.

Albanese’s bill calls for the government to: make the Georgetown South Corridor a priority for electrification, include health and property impacts in the environmental assessment, and complete the electrification of the Air-Rail Link by 2015.

While Albanese urged her colleagues to support the bill, private member’s bills rarely become law.

Rob Ford, Throw Us A Bone.

Our new mayor was elected by a considerable margin over his rivals, and it’s agreed he has a pretty strong mandate. Rob Ford’s distaste for street cars was no secret during the campaign, and he seems to be following through on his promise to turn the Transit City plan on its head.

Toronto does not compare well to other cosmopolitan areas when it comes to public transportation. Our subway system is limited to selected areas of downtown and the suburbs. Streetcars and buses are slow and prone to traffic delays; if you have a couple of hours to spare, take a bus or streetcar across town.

Yet while Toronto compares badly, Weston is in the basement.

In recent years, some rays of hope were unveiled. In 1994 work began on a subway that would have gone along Eglinton from Dufferin to Renforth with Weston stops at Keele North, York Centre, Jane North and Scarlett. In 1995, the Harris government ‘deferred’ the work and filled in all excavations. So much for the Common Sense Revolution.

Recently, a subway-like train was planned under Transit City. Originally this would have run along Eglinton—underground like a subway from Leaside to Black Creek Drive with limited stops 850m apart,  and then above ground to the Airport with stops 500m apart. This would have given Weston rapid access to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway and other parts of the city. Again it was being eroded by lack of funds—but at least a start would have been made.

Rob Ford is saying that he wants the Eglinton LRT cancelled. Instead, the money (and then some more) is to be spent on completing the white elephant Sheppard subway. While Toronto mayors have only one vote in council, it is likely Mr. Ford will get his way. The Eglinton LRT is probably dead.

Does this mean that Rob Ford has abandoned the people who strongly supported him here in Weston and his old Ward 2? (I can’t think Frances Nunziata supports cancellation.) What will he do to ensure that there is planning in the works for viable rapid transit options for Weston? Isn’t Weston due for a break soon? Do we have to put up with this and noisy diesels too? For heaven’s sake, throw us a bone Rob.

Student writer update

Certainly, I have an exaggerated sense of the role of this humble blog in Weston affairs: I am a capon who preens like a cockerel.  Still, I  did not expect it to be so hard to pay writers.

Dear reader, I again need your help—your help finding someone to write for money.

As long-time readers will know, I’ve been trying to raise money and hire a student for more than a month. Several generous readers gave me enough to get started, and I emailed and called, successively, an English teacher, a vice principal, and the principal, at Weston CI.

Not one of them got back to me. When I finally spoke to the principal, she said it would be too much trouble—police background checks, you know. Fair enough. I guess.

The principal did, however, refer me to Frontlines. The staff there were wonderful. They put me in touch with two young people. The young people, however, lost interest.

So now, I come to you, dear reader, with a plea: if you know a young person from the community who might like to write for money (albeit a small amount), would you ask them to get in touch with me?

I will promise the writer this:

  • $20  for each weekly article
  • A lovely letter of reference from a community-minded college professor
  • Help editing and composing
  • The tiniest sliver of power to exploit

My needs are simple:

  • Passable grammar
  • Self-motivation
  • Enough connections in the community to find 2–4 articles a month
  • A willingness to learn

If you know someone who can help, ask them to drop me a line: [email protected]

Another online campaign to stop diesel trains begins

A west-end resident, Stephen Dorsey, has started an online campaign to stop Metrolinx’s purchase of dirty diesel trains.

The campaign uses Xtranormal video, the deadpan, automated cartoon videos that have generated a lot of buzz over the past few weeks.

Dorsey tries to leverage Rob Ford’s ‘Gravy Train’ campaign, by pointing out that the diesel trains will be expensive in the long run. He also also takes plenty of shots at Metrolinx and the Premier.

You can view the site and the videos here.

Arts organization looking to build in Weston

According to InsideToronto, Artscape, which usually serves those richy-rich artists downtown, is looking to build a cultural and creative hub in Weston-Mt Dennis. It will need to be funded by City Council, however, after the new arts-averse mayor has taken over—and Ford recently promised that there will be no new money for the arts.

Along with preparing a map of existing creative sector jobs and facilities in the area, Artscape staff have been interviewing local artists and sought feedback from the public at a meeting earlier this month, including on where such a hub might be located and what it should offer.

“Is it for performing arts, is it for artists’ work studios, is it for artists’ retail, is it for visual arts, is it for dance?” asked Artscape’s Liz Cohn.

The answers to those questions will have to wait, however.

Artscape plans to present its report to city staff by mid-December, said Cohn. After that, staff and Artscape will prepare an action plan to implement the hub and submit it to the economic development committee in 2011.

Whether there’s support, and funding, from the new council for such a project is unknown.

Nunziata nominated to Speaker

As expected, Rob Ford nominated Frances Nunziata, our recently-reelected councillor, to Council Speaker.

The Speaker presides over City Council meetings; it is a position Nunziata has had her eye on since at least September.

Her nomination must still be confirmed in a council vote, but no real newspapers seem to think that there’s any chance she will be rejected.

Police make arrests in local break ins

Today 12 Division police issued a warning about burglaries at the same time as they announced arrests.

Their email admits that there has recently been an increase in neighbourhood break-ins. The burglars had been breaking a window in the back door in order to reach in and unlock it.

According to police, vigilant community members tipped off police and “a number of arrests have been made”. Still, they warn residents to secure their homes, report suspicious activity, and remain vigilant.