Police warn of purse snatchers

12 Division police are warning women to be careful and pay attention their surroundings. They caution that there has been a number of purse snatchings in the area. Worryingly, they also warn that when “the victim has resisted the suspect has resorted to physical assault to get the purse.”

The muggers seem to target middle-age or older women. There were two reported snatchings in recent weeks at the corner of Jane and Lawrence.

Police suggest to only carry what you need on a day-to-day basis. Your humble reporter suggests having your husband carry your purse whenever possible. That has worked for his wife.

Albanese in the House asking for electric trains

Laura Albanese has had a tough week in the House. She keeps trying to push forward on the Air Rail Link, but just can’t get any traction. On Tuesday, she couldn’t get a straight answer. Yesterday, her private member’s motion got only tepid support.

Albanese asked the Province to “embrace electrification as a strategy for powering commuter rail” and complete the  the electrification of the air-rail link by 2015.”

In her speech, Albanese listed all the reasons to love electrification, and called Metrolinx out to give it a bit of a spanking, saying:

Electrification of the air-rail link by 2015 is achievable. I continue to advocate for the 2015 date as a target for completion of construction. I believe we can, as a Legislature, set expectations and targets. If we do not, then we are leaving this decision to Metrolinx.

My message to Metrolinx is that they need to work harder, be more efficient and, knowing the importance of electrification to the people living along the corridor, innovate, create and resolve. The year 2015 is still four years away….

Albanese’s motion was about as popular as weak beer. Conservative transportation critic Frank Klees and New Democrat Cheri DiNovo both took her to task, but not because they don’t like electrification. They took Albanese to task for not going far enough.

Frank Klees said:

I’m participating in this debate with very mixed feelings. I want to recognize, of course, the member from York–South Weston for her initiative. But… I also have to view with a great deal of cynicism this resolution.

The honourable member is not supported by her government. She is not supported by the Minister of Transportation. She is not supported by her colleagues….

But I say to the honourable member, the issue is not whether this resolution passes; it’s whether or not action is taken by the government to actually deal with it. We have a very strong indication already that that is not happening.

[Metrolinx is] moving ahead with the purchase of equipment for this air-rail link that involves diesel vehicles…. Why? Here’s the reason: Because the government—not Metrolinx—has given an artificial timeline for this air-rail link to be completed, in time for the Pan Am Games 2015.

Cheri DiNovo, whose riding the ARL also runs through, criticized the electrification plan from several angles, and concluded with some thoughts for Albanese, and a warning that her seat is in danger:

I have to say that if the McGuinty government really valued the seats in York South–Weston and Davenport enough, if they really valued their members from those ridings, then they would also step up and make these promises….

Of course, we’ll support this motion. We support motherhood and apple pie too, I would say to the members from Davenport and York South–Weston. But you know what [we really want]? No buys for diesel. No buys at all for diesel: not four, not 12, not 18, not one. Not one diesel train do we want running through our communities, and nothing else will satisfy.

Albanese is certainly stuck in an odd position: her own party is giving her the cold shoulder, while the other parties are pushing her on.



Albanese looks unloved

Laura Albanese was left looking a bit like the unloved stepchild in the House yesterday. The Liberals—her own party— gave flaccid responses to her pointed questions about the Air Rail Link, leaving Albanese’s clout in question.

Last week, Metrolinx announced, to nobody’s surprise, that it was going to buy diesel trains for the ARL, even though Metrolinx’s own study showed only a month ago that electric trains make more sense in the long run. Albanese, and her colleague Tony Ruprecht from Davenport, asked the Transportation Minister why the government is moving forward with the purchase of the diesel trains.

Kathleen Wynne responded with the same old limp lines about the Pan Am Games and being an ‘international city’.

We are committed to having the air-rail link in place in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015. It’s a very important part of our commitment on the Pan Am Games. …

The air-rail link will connect Pearson airport to Union Station. There’s a need for this rail link if we’re going to be an international city. We need to have this air-rail link in place.

Your humble correspondent can’t believe that anyone finds these answers satisfactory. First, Pearson gets more than 85,000 passengers on a typical day. A two-week,  C-list event that will draw 10,000 athletes is hardly going to break the city.  Second, worrying about being world-class is so 1995.  And anyway, a world-class city would have a world-class link, not a filthy and noisy one. Surely not even Wynne believes Wynne.

Albanese must be feeling like her party forgot to let her in before they went to bed. Being unable to get  a decent answer leaves her looking impotent. At the same time, Albanese can’t go too hard on the Liberals—she is one, after all.

YSW residents might wonder just what the point of having an insider is.

Man shot by police, run over

According to the downtown media, a Weston man was shot by police investigating a domestic disturbance. He fled the scene but was apprehended after being struck by a car.

The 29-year-old man fled an apartment building at the intersection of Weston and Oak. He was shot at least once in the chest before running northward on Weston Rd. The Star says that he is expected to recover.

The Special Investigations Unit is investigating.

Thanks to the tipster.

Huge Ice Dam Blocks Humber River, Endangers Footbridge.

Looking upriver from Raymore footbridge.

It begins just south of Lawrence Avenue, a gigantic barrage of ice piling up and blocking the Humber. Water has been forced to go around the ice and flood Lions Park.
The recent thaw has compounded the blocking of the Humber that occurred in January. Large chunks of ice floated downstream as the river rose last week and they have plugged the channel forcing it to flood its banks. This latest pile of ice begins by the Lions Arena and continues south all the way to the dam and fish ladder in Raymore Park.

Looking downriver

Halfway between the two lies the footbridge connecting Weston to Etobicoke. Normally, the abutments of the old bridge destroyed in the Hurricane Hazel disaster are visible; now they are buried without trace under tonnes of ice. On Saturday, ice was brushing the underside of the bridge and today, the bridge foundations are underwater and in danger of being washed away.

This comparison gives an idea of the depth of the ice blocking the river:

Looking downriver from Lions Park

Here is the almost same view in summer:

Summer view looking downriver.

Looking upriver; notice the normal clearance of the bridge and one of the now buried abutments.

Is the bridge in danger? My guess is that if there is another thaw soon, there will be added pressure on the foundations, not from ice but from water undermining them.

Unfortunately, Thursday’s forecast is for periods of rain and a high of 6°C.

Artscape bullish on Weston

Artscape released the results of their feasibility study last month, and they have good news. Artscape thinks Weston would be a good place for a community arts hub.

Tim Jones, the President and CEO of Artscape, spoke to Matt Galloway at the CBC. He said that Weston–Mt. Dennis has very few creative workers now, and this dissuades creative workers from coming: “The area doesn’t have the critical mass of creative people. Nor does it have the services and amenities that would attract creative people naturally.” This is a problem, he says, because creative people “breathe life into a community”.

The problem, then, is how to attract the first few, so rest of the flock will come along.

The solution, according to Artscape, is a “cultural and creative hub”. According to Jones, a hub “will bring together a smaller mass of people in one facility.” A combination of retail and affordable live/work space will “create the anchor and the critical mass of  creative people that will help energize the neighbourhood.”

The presentation on January 26 explained some of the things that make Weston attractive to an artistic venture like this: we’re receptive, engaged, and have good local political leadership. We also have a number of suitable sites:

  • Weston Park Baptist Church Land
  • The new GO Station,
  • Kodak lands
  • The former  Price Chopper
  • Weston Federal Building
  • Green P on John Street.

(The presentation slides mention neither the farmer’s market at the Green P, nor GO’s plans around the church and the Price Chopper.)

Artscape does identify some problems, however:

  • Lower than average employment in the Creative and Cultural Sector
  • Very few Creative Businesses located in the neighbourhood
  • Lack of a single clear vision
  • Fragmented neighbourhood
  • No clear project leader
  • Representation of & perception within the neighbourhood that the area is unsafe
  • Significant economic challenges

Artscape has had considerable experience revitalizing communities. They played a significant role in turning around the Distillery District, and have built facilities similar to what they propose for Weston–Mt Dennis in Queen West, Parkdale, and other places around Toronto. Recently, Artscape transformed the Wychwood Barns into a community and art centre.

Metrolinx buying diesel trains

Against nearly all residents’ wishes, Metrolinx has decided not to get electric trains. Instead, it will buy diesel trains and convert them later if it gets the money to do so.

According to the Star, the trains will cost $53 million—about $4 million each, half of the original estimate. The article also says that the trains should start arriving in 2013.

Metrolinx had been saying for months that they would buy diesel trains, not electric. They claim that the health and environmental benefits of electric trains are marginal—even though their own report says that “electrifying the entire network would deliver a 94% reduction in GO Transit’s future GHG emissions”.