City to Mount Dennis: You’re stuck with the gas plant

City staff have reported on their meetings with Metrolinx about the gas plant at the Kodak Lands. While the tone of the report is neutral, it doesn’t look good.

Roughly 18MW
Roughly 18MW, according to the internet
Roughly 18MW
Roughly 18MW, the G says.

Metrolinx wants to build an 18 megawatt, natural-gas power plant on the Kodak site, which will soon be a transit hub and part of the Eglinton LRT. The gas plant will, they say, be used in emergencies—but also when the price of electricity is high. Community groups were not pleased.

City staff met with Metrolinx and their contractor about using ‘alternate’ energy instead of natural gas. The report says, more or less, “never going to work.”

Staff say that the roof of the building could support, at most, 1MW of capacity—far less than required. A back-up battery would be too expensive.

Mount Dennis a major issue in campaigns

Weston–Mount Dennis is becoming a turning point in the mayoral campaign.

Olivia Chow has been  hammering John Tory’s SmartTrack plan for the bungled Mount Dennis section. She’s been saying his plan was drawn on the back of a napkin and has egregious errors—which, indeed, it seems to.

Yesterday, Chow poked fun at Tory’s plan for Mount Dennis in a mayoral debate on the arts.

Roy’s been over the plan already once before, here’s the gist of the problems:

  • The land along Eglinton that Tory needs has already been sold and has houses on it
  • Tory says he has a plan to pay for the train, but it’s not much of a plan at all.
  • The train ends near the airport but not at the airport
  • And there’s already a train going that way. It’s going to cost $25 each way, though.

Mike Mattos from the MDCA told the Sun:

“We finally got the LRT to a stage where the community is pretty happy as far as station placement goes. It has been a lot of work over 10 years and his plan comes along and throws a monkey wrench into the transit hub and the LRT station,” he said. “This is a poorly-thought out plan.”

 

 

Not a boring (Jane’s) walk in Mt Dennis

BlogTO has a thoughtful piece on the Mount Dennis Jane’s Walk from last weekend:

The next stop was Building 9, the old Kodak employees building that’s all that remains of the vast American film company’s Canadian plant. Sitting at the end of Photography Drive, it’s become an unofficial symbol of the neighbourhood – a last remnant of the company that made Mount Dennis and a sad example of the neglect with which it’s treated.

A Metrolinx representative gave a presentation on the transit complex that’s going to be built on the old Kodak lands – a combination of maintenance yards and garages for the new fleet of LRT trains and a transit hub joining Mount Dennis station with a new GO station. While struggling to keep the wind from blowing away his poster-sized renderings of the future development, he pointed out that Building 9 is to be retained as part of the complex, with its first floor serving as a concourse.

What no one could say was what would happen to the three floors on top of that, currently open to the elements as a result of years of “demolition by neglect” overseen by the site’s former owners, Metrus Properties. I asked councillor Nunziata what the city would like to see, but all she could say that there were discussions and meetings still on the schedule to determine the best way to repurpose Building 9 for “community uses.”

Residents to get input into Kodak lands after all

Metrolinx, according to the The Star, is backtracking and allowing residents some input into what will happen at the derelict Kodak lands, which are to be turned into a rail yard:

Metrolinx has agreed to open debate on the fate of the former Kodak manufacturing site just months before the provincial agency tenders a multibillion-dollar contract to build a storage facility for the Crosstown LRT there.

It’s a major turnaround for Metrolinx, which has previously resisted requests by community activists to intensify development on the 23-hectare brownfield at Eglinton Ave. W. and Black Creek Dr., and include multi-storey commercial buildings that could lead to local jobs.

 

Kodak lands up for development

The Toronto Star group has a couple of articles on Mount Dennis and the old Kodak lands that are worth a read:

Fridays when families gathered in the auditorium of the Recreation Building to watch motion pictures or musicals by employees in the Kodak Theatre Company.

Christmas parties where kids who were 10 finally got a camera. The building’s gym with its wood slat floors and painted shuffle board courts; the darkroom for photo buffs, the locker room for athletes.

The building was at the heart of Kodak Heights, the 23-hectare factory that employed thousands of people until it closed in 2005.

Today, the recreation building is the only one still standing.

The tunnel boring machines that will carve out the Crosstown LRT are about to rumble through the earth under Eglinton Ave. W.

And that means the deserted Kodak lands in Weston-Mount Dennis will spring to life in the next couple of years.

Kodak Building may become LRT station

According to an article in the York Guardian, the currently derelict Kodak building has the potential of becoming (amongst other things) an LRT station serving Mount Dennis. Metrolinx consultant Joe Berridge stated that the station could actually be under the landmark building which would be renovated to provide a variety of facilities. Read the story here.P1000394

Albanese trying to get answers about LRT

The Eglinton LRT should be a huge boon for Weston and Mount Dennis, but it hasn’t been without controversy. Metrolinx says that it, not the TTC, will own the rail line, though the TTC will operate it.

This has led to many questions: How will the fares be split? How easy will it be to transfer? And why is Metrolinx getting involved in something that seems clearly like a municipal issue?

Laura Albanese tried to clarify some of these questions in Queen’s Park last week. She asked the Transportation Minister, Bob Chiarelli, to explain.  After a bit of self-congratulation, he said “the TTC will be responsible for vehicle drivers, station operators and ticket staff; safety and enforcement; and dispatch and control of vehicle access throughout the system.”

In a follow up question, she asked him to explain how the lines will work with the existing system. Chiarelli explained that there will  be only one fare and simple transfers.

While Albanese’s effort to get more transparency is to be commended, there is little reason to be sanguine. Steve Munro, in a (typically) long and incisive post, raises many questions and has little faith.

Metrolinx is a notoriously opaque agency that conducts much of its business in private. Details of the arrangements for [the] contract are likely to be shrouded by the term “commercial confidential” that conveniently hides private sector agreements. If the TTC screws up, everyone knows about the problems, and the fallout can damage political careers. If a private contract goes awry, we may never know. This is not acceptable for such important public infrastructure that could remain, through a badly written contract, “public” in name only.

Metrolinx owes Toronto an open discussion of its intentions for how the new LRT lines will be built and operated, how the funding will work, and what expectations the city and its transit riders should have of what they’ll be getting. At a regional level, Metrolinx needs to be frank with all municipalities on its future role in transit operations and funding. The Toronto LRT decision should have been a detailed announcement, with the unknowns clearly acknowledged and marked for future discussion. What we got was a two page letter between bureaucrats.