Distracted Walking – local pols get it wrong.

From closerangesafetytips.wordpress.com

Two local politicians apparently are so confused in their thinking that they can’t distinguish between the dangers posed by a pair of feet and a car. Both Councillor Frances Nunziata and Etobicoke MPP, Yvan Baker seem to believe that distracted drivers present the same danger to life and limb as Instagram-surfing seniors. Baker wants to pass a law that would penalize distracted pedestrians. Neither he nor Ms Nunziata seem to have bothered reading the studies that have shown distracted pedestrians pose a threat only to their auto-correct software. It’s no surprise that the two politicians live in the outer suburbs and have the mentality that cars are the only way to travel. Had Ms. Nunziata, and for that matter the Liberal Party of Ontario, supported decent funding for the TTC during their respective decades in office, young Mr. Baker might not feel the need to drive from Etobicoke to Queens Park on a regular basis – presumably while carefully avoiding legions of zombified pedestrians hurling themselves at his car.

The Star goes into fuller detail here, noting that most pedestrians killed and injured on our streets are seniors and more likely to be focussed on surviving the all-too-brief pedestrian crossing times rather than sexting their besties.

Model home on Weston catches fire. Again.

The hideous model home at Weston and Dora Spencer that caught fire on September 17—and which remained undemolished thereafter—was on fire again this weekend. About 20 vehicles were called to the scene.

The new fire raises questions about why the model home was still standing after the fire more than a month ago—or, indeed, at all. It does not seem to have been used in years; a Google Street view from 2011 shows it in disrepair.

GTA Transit Planning Revealed.

From bms.co.in

The latest news of how transit gets built in this area comes as no surprise to most people in the GTA.  In the latest outrage, straight from the manual of how to operate a corrupt government, Provincial Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca possibly acting in a craven bid to keep his own seat, seems to have pressured Metrolinx into approving two unnecessary GO stations. One in his riding and another $25 million station which was (literally) forged into existence, in order to satisfy (Rob Ford in sheep’s clothing) Mayor Tory’s ill-conceived SmartTrack needs. With a wink and a nod to voters in next June’s election, Del Duca could point to the $100 million GO station as a reason to re-elect him. One might speculate that the March resignation of Bruce McCuaig was a reaction to this nonsense, knowing that the truth would eventually come out.

This chart illustrates the weekly passenger loads on TTC lines and routes. The downtown relief line would serve four times as many people as a Scarborough Subway. Click to enlarge. From reliefline.ca

The $3.35 billion, one-stop Scarborough Subway is another example of how transit planning is perverted by politicians for their own re-election purposes. Torontonians will be paying for that white elephant for the next 50 years while knowing that a much better LRT was already planned and paid for. Line 1 is overcrowded with 731,000 passengers weekly. Line 3 has only 40,000. In the meantime, politicians like Glenn de Bearemaeker and John Tory stick to the same nonsense that Scarborough deserves a subway. Even our own councillor, Frances Nunziata supports this obscenity presumably because she wants to Tory to keep her on as Council Speaker.

Closer to home, the UP Express was originally designed to be built privately and run non-stop to the airport. It was going to cost taxpayers nothing while barreling at high speed through our neighbourhood. Luckily the community got involved in the form of the people of Weston and the Clean Train Coalition. As a result of community pressure, Weston got its own station and a tunnel was built to put some of the line below grade. In spite of common sense, we’re still stuck with the CP tracks not going in the tunnel with the other lines, broken links between streets like John Street and a sell-off of the old GO parking lot for development without any community input. On the plus side, we now have an inexpensive, quick and frequent train to the airport and downtown but in fairness, no politician planned this; it was forced on them by community pressure.

Sadly, most politicians will do whatever they need to do in order to get elected. Public vigilance and pressure is the only answer. Being well informed and vocal is in every citizen’s best interest.

From Smart Citizen Engagement – Power to Sense: Dr Mazlan Abbas. Keynote Presentation at Asia Pacific Smart City Forum 2016

There is an old saying that war is too important to be left to the generals. Along the same lines, governing is too important to be left to politicians. Demanding and participating in community consultation events has never been more important. Especially since there is about to be a huge surge in redevelopment in Weston. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat’s resignation on Monday will only serve to stress the importance of informed citizen input.

Greenland Farm to develop old Loblaws site.

Greenland Farm Supermarket in January 2016 (File).

Greenland Farm at 1956-1966 Weston Road is a one-store supermarket that occupies a site once used for the same purpose by Loblaws many years ago. If you like fish, or a wide variety of products from all over the world, then GF is a great place to shop. It has for example, more types of hot sauce than you would find in a lifetime of searching through any chain supermarket.

It turns out that the owner would like to develop the site which is quite large as it includes the supermarket itself and a fairly substantial parking lot also fronting onto Weston Road. According to the latest newsletter from Councillor Frances Nunziata, there is interest in, “…redeveloping the site with commercial uses at grade level and residential above.”

Greenland Farms occupies a large site and parking lot in downtown Weston (from Google Maps). Click to enlarge.

In many ways, this is a vote of confidence in Weston but the quality of the proposal, the appropriate use of land and the height of the residential component will need to be carefully scrutinized.

A meeting will be held to discuss the owner’s thoughts and for residents to provide feedback so that a submission proposal can eventually be drawn up and presented to the City (which will be represented at the meeting).

In the formative stages of this idea it’s probably a huge opportunity for Weston residents to make their ideas and opinions count.

The meeting will be held at the York West Active Living Centre, located at 1901 Weston Road.

  • Date: Tuesday, August 29
  • Time 7:00 pm
  • Location: 1901 Weston Road

Glen Murray’s departure and The RailPath Extension

Former Ontario Minister of the Environment, Glen Murray was in Mount Dennis in June, (along with Frances Nunziata and Laura Albanese) supporting their Net Zero initiative. His abrupt departure has left a few questions hanging about two important Mount Dennis initiatives, in particular their Net Zero push as well as the Toronto West Railpath cycle and pedestrian trail northward expansion.

This article covers the West Toronto RailPath.

The RailPath is a great idea that has been tirelessly promoted by people along the UP Express line and particularly in The Junction and Mount Dennis. Why a path along a rail line? Railway lines are built to smooth out hills wherever possible – trains don’t like inclines. For that reason, a bike / walking trail alongside a rail line is a perfect match because without hills and dips a bike / pedestrian path is easier and safer to use. Plans are to extend the trail southwards below Queen Street and beyond (under study).

In June’s meeting in Mount Dennis, Murray seemed to give an assurance that a northward Railpath extension would get the go ahead despite a previous firm no from Metrolinx. At the time of the meeting, Murray must have known that his future lay elsewhere. Attempts to contact his constituency office on the topic have not been successful.

Then Environment Minister Glen Murray (centre) at the June 12 meeting in Mount Dennis Library.

The new Environment Minister, Chris Ballard directed my inquiry back to Metrolinx Senior Media Manager, Anne Marie Aikins who tells me that “The City of Toronto is the lead on the Railpath project and is in a better position to answer questions about the project and its timelines.” Metrolinx has basically said that the RailPath must end at Black Creek Drive and the City has been tasked with finding a route.

Simon Chamberlain (recording secretary of the (ever awesome) Mount Dennis Community Association) is very knowledgeable on the issues around the possible northward extension. He says that this particular rail track passes directly through communities and could be be a link to stores and other amenities along the way. Unfortunately, without wide enough bridges, the rail path can only run north as far as Black Creek Drive and then exit the corridor at that point, continuing on a much hillier trail through the Black Creek Valley to Trethewey and westward into the back streets of Weston.

The rail corridor as it makes its way north-west from Union Station. Red dots indicate where the bike / pedestrian route might leave the corridor and where it could join Trethewey.

Simon explained that the main obstacles to continuing the trail northward are bridges which are expensive to widen after the fact. Sadly, unlike the builders of the Bloor Viaduct, Metrolinx didn’t seem to anticipate the need for a wider corridor. The MDCA unsuccessfully tried to get Metrolinx to only partially demolish the Photography Drive bridge that crossed Eglinton and thus leave room for a pedestrian / cycle trail. He believes that there is a possible route northward over the bridge that crosses Black Creek Drive and MDCA has been pushing Metrolinx to extend the RailPath north to Ray Drive and beyond, possibly as far as Denison.

Simon believes that Metrolinx is reluctant to alter any contracts that are under way because of the additional expense (think of home renos when you ask a contractor for changes during the job).

The City’s Railpath Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, Maogosha Pyjor says that,

“There have been questions about extending the Railpath further north west along the rail corridor. Planning for this extension would require its own Environmental Assessment…. the City has been informed by Metrolinx that due to their track expansion plans there will not be space in rail corridor for a trail going north. The City will have to  look at on-street connections.”

 That seems to be the way it goes for Weston / Mount Dennis. Two steps forward and one step back.
This might be a good time to remember that politicians will get to work on an idea if they think that people are behind it.
Updates when more news comes in.

Historical properties register to be considered

How can we get heritage properties listed (and protected) faster? City staff will update the Toronto Preservation Board next week with some answers. It matters: properties around Toronto, including in Weston, are torn down before they can be inventoried.

8 Oak

8 Oak Street—to my mind at least, a lovely property with much potential—was one such unprotected property. It will be torn down to make way for high-density homes.

 

Getting heritage properties inventoried has been a struggle: Councillor Matlow has been asking staff for more than two years for some better ideas on how to do so. Among the possibilities: a citizen-led database, vetted by staff.

A tale of two wards.

Councillor Pam McConnell. (from Twitter.com)

The recent and untimely death of Councillor Pam McConnell brought forth an outpouring of tributes. Many remembered her service to the community and the great things a determined councillor can achieve in a Toronto ward. Ms. McConnell may have represented Rosedale but she consistently voted to defend her poorest constituents, not the richest. She also fought hard to improve the public domain rather than work for private interests.

We can view Ms. McConnell’s recent voting record through a handy grid compiled by Toronto blogger Matt Elliott. The Google Docs spreadsheet itemizes how each Toronto councillor voted on important topics over the past few years. As part of the grid, Mr. Elliott also keeps a scorecard on how each councillor’s overall votes align with those of our right-leaning Mayor John Tory – recently described by some wags as ‘Rob Ford in sheep’s clothing’.

Ms. McConnell it turns out, voted with the Mayor only 41.5% of the time. In contrast, our own Councillor Nunziata voted with the Mayor a remarkable 92.5% of the time; more than anyone else on council. That’s loyalty but at what cost to the people in York South-Weston?

Mr. Elliott’s scorecard can be found at this link.