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.”

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.

Huge changes to TTC would include fixing ARL

With luck and a lot of political will, sweeping changes will completely revamp transit—and life—in Toronto. Karen Stintz and Glenn DeBaeremaeker have a new proposal, called OneCity, that would add 6 subway lines, 10 LRTs and 170 km of new transit lines—and completely change the Air Rail Link.

The Toronto Star says that the new plan would bring great changes to Weston:

  • An LRT along Jane from Steeles to Bloor—an idea originally in Transit City.
  • Extending the Eglinton LRT to the airport instead of having it stop in Mt Dennis
  • Adding three stops to the Air Rail Link to make it public transit
  • Renaming the ARL the “Etobicoke Express”

MPP Jonah Schein says that the plan would also electrify the ARL and calls for people to support it at a Metrolinx meeting tonight.

The new lines would be funded with $180 a year in extra property taxes. Rob Ford has already expressed his disapproval, saying “If they want to hijack the process and hike taxes I’m not supporting that.”

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.