Ferreira quits NDP

Paul Ferreira from Wikipedia.

Paul Ferreira is a well known local political operative. He’s been a progressive political activist since 1990 covering all three levels of government. His work has been mainly behind the scenes serving under Howard Hampton, Mike Sullivan and Andrea Horwath. He won a by-election in 2007 to briefly become MPP for York South-Weston but was defeated by the present incumbent Laura Albanese in the general election held that same year.

It is rare that someone of his status quits the NDP and the reason seems to be that the party has lost its way. Socialism no longer seems to be a guiding principle and has been replaced by opposition for its own sake and policies based on winning power rather than on core beliefs. Both Mulcair and Horwath shifted sharply to the right in recent elections and voters punished them accordingly.

According to the Toronto Star, the last straw triggering Mr. Ferreira’s move was the provincial NDP’s opposition to tolls on the Don and Gardiner expressways.

People like Paul Ferreira live and breathe politics so it’s unlikely that we have heard the last of him politically. Currently the provincial Liberals seem to entertain more progressive ideas than the NDP. Perhaps Paul will find a welcome there. In the meantime, look for more dismal news from the provincial and federal NDP parties until new leadership takes over.

Sullivan blasts Hussen

On the one-year anniversary of the 2015 federal election, former York South Weston MP spared no mercy for his successor, Liberal MP  Ahmed Hussen. In a Facebook post Sullivan laments that Hussen has failed to send out ‘a single piece of email out to those who used to be my constituents’.

He also has some kind words for his supporters who may yet be called upon in the next election.

Read the full posting below.

A year ago today, I was in the process of being fired from my job. I was swept out in a wave of adulation for Dubya Trudeau.
I loved my job, but if you can’t afford to lose, you shouldn’t be in politics.

I want to thank, once again all of those who tried to convince people to let me keep my job, and the man who first convinced me to try, Paul Ferreira.

It was a great job, one where every day you can help individuals, and at the same time have an impact on where the whole country is going. And I couldn’t have done it without Ornella, Paul, Faisal, Deb, Alex and a host of volunteers and interns.

The new guy has yet to send a single piece of mail out to those who used to be my constituents. No one knows where he or the Liberals stand on their many promises, most of which they have yet to even consider doing: Aboriginal Education, C-51 (Privacy), C-38 (Environment), Subsidies to Big Oil, Regugee deportations and their health care.

And we have learned where they really stand on arms sales to human rights abusers (they did it), Climate change targets (same as Harper), Pipelines and Natural Gas projects (in favour), putting Bovine Growth Hormones in our children’s milk (TPP in favour), and Improving and protecting our health care system (same as Harper).

But the adulation continues. Elections shouldn’t be won on who is the cutest, but…

UPX ridership triples–but it is still diesel

Ridership on the UP Express has tripled since Metrolinx cut fares, to more than 8,000 daily riders, according to Torontoist. The number of riders continues to grow, although at a slower rate.

The Clean Train Coalition, though, would like to remind you that the Metrolinx and the province have blown right through the start date for regional rail electrification:

“The environmental assessment process for electrification was supposed to start four months ago in July. It has not started, there has been no announcement explaining the delay, and there is no word from the government when it will start.”

YSW NDP AGM

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 10.12.19 AMNext Monday, March 21 will see the annual general meeting of York South-Weston’s New Democrats. On the agenda will be the task of electing a new executive.

Guest speaker will be Peter Tabuns, NDP parliamentary critic on the environment and education.

  • Date: Monday March 21
  • Time: 6:30 – 9:30 pm
  • Place: York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West.

For more details read here.

Horwath hosting Hydro Happening Tomorrow.

From niagaraatlarge.com
From niagaraatlarge.com

Former York South-Weston MP Mike Sullivan and Provincial NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath are hosting a meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss ramifications of the proposed privatization of Hydro One by the provincial government. More details about the meeting are here. The sale of provincial assets, is seen by some as a way to ease a substantial budget deficit.

This type of short-sighted action certainly didn’t enhance former Premier Mike Harris’ reputation when he leased Highway 407 to a private consortium for 99 years. It also seems to fly in the face of generally progressive policies favoured by the Wynne government.

  • Date: Wednesday March 2nd.
  • Time: 6:30 – 9:30pm
  • Place: Jane Street Hub, 1541 Jane Street.

Sullivan: Weston’s hospital site.

Now that the dust has settled after October’s Federal Election, I was curious as to how former York South-Weston Member of Parliament, Mike Sullivan was adjusting to the new reality of being a regular citizen once more. He agreed to an in-depth interview and we sat down last Friday over coffees in a busy Perfect Blend Bakery. We touched on four main topics that have been published over the last few days.

Already published:

1. Fallout from the election

2. The Weston Cultural Hub

3. Metrolinx

The fourth and final issue that we discussed was Weston’s recently closed hospital.

4. The Church Street, former Humber River Regional Hospital Site.

The Humber River Hospital’s three campus locations have closed to be replaced by a brand new hospital at Wilson and Keele. In preparation for the closing of our local Church Street site, the Hospital Board went ahead with plans to sell the site to the highest bidder. Some people then pointed out that a significant chunk of the original site was a bequest with the proviso that the land would be used for a Weston hospital in perpetuity. The matter is now before the courts.

The Church Street Site last August before it closed.
The Church Street Campus last August before it closed.

Sullivan sees a solution in the way other parts of the province have handled their hospital closings,

What should happen is the Province pays the appropriate price for the property and turns it into a long term care facility which they have already done in Parry Sound and Ottawa and other places where hospitals that have been decommissioned have become long term care facilities. According to (York South-Weston MPP) Ms. Albanese, it’s not as simple as one arm of the province buying the hospital from another. She said that the hospital is entirely run by a private corporation that has nothing to do with the province and that corporation can do whatever it wants with the land. Martin Proctor challenged her strongly on this at a meeting and pointed out that it was the folks in Weston that contributed and added on to that hospital over many years and now they are losing that resource. What appears to have happened is that the Province has separated itself from hospitals by declaring them corporations run by an independent board who the Province then paid 2 billion dollars to build a new one on the understanding that the board would raise 200 million of its own by selling the land and other fundraising.

 

The province can correct its mistake by saying that the land which is worth about 20 million can be forgiven to the Hospital Board of Directors and the province take over the property but Ms. Albanese wasn’t going there.

 

They’ve got to build long term care facilities anyway – somebody has to. There’s a 1 year wait list for long-term care facilities and people will die on that list. Why are we ignoring a  great potential? I understand that the Province wants privately run long-term care facilities but surely if the land is available they can find a developer who is willing to do that.

 

I spoke to Rueben Devlin (HRRH CEO) about that possibility and he told me it could never be a long-term care facility because the rules are so strict it wouldn’t meet the current standards. But then how did they do it in Parry Sound and Ottawa? The province has grandparented other buildings why wouldn’t they do that in Weston rather than tearing it down and building a condo tower. SuOn College is very interested in the site. They’re bursting at the seams and are looking to expand.

There would be no rezoning needed as it is zoned institutional. The fly in the ointment is that the city owns part of the site and the hospital was very quick to go to court over that and are suing the city to try and keep title of the land with the Hospital. Frances had a plan for some kind of trade that would allow the city to keep some parkland somewhere in exchange for the land. Her wonderful deal with Cruickshank Section 37 money didn’t buy a community amenity – it bought drainage in Swanek park which the City was going to pay for anyway.

I contacted York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese and she confirmed that currently the site is zoned institutional. She also confirmed that hospitals are not fully funded by the province but communities are expected to have an investment in their hospital by raising 10% of the funding. The sale of the Church Street Site would go towards that community contribution. Under the current setup, long term care facilities are managed by not-for-profit corporations, indirectly connected with the Ontario Government. In order to use that as a solution, there has to be an expression of interest from such an entity and to date there has been none. She also mentioned that until the ownership of the deeded land on the HRRH site is settled, nothing is likely to proceed.

She did say that the Keele Street Hospital Campus has been sold to developer Daniels Corporation and the plan is to build some institutional facilities along with low-rise housing.

Having a similar outcome for Weston probably wouldn’t be too terrible, but who knows – with the way things are done in this city, the vision, accompanied by beautiful architectural drawings and the reality are often two entirely different things. Can you say Weston Cultural Hub?

Thanks to Mike Sullivan for agreeing to do this and to MPP Laura Albanese for her response.

Sullivan: Metrolinx and Transit Implications

Now that the dust has settled after October’s Federal Election, I was curious as to how former York South-Weston Member of Parliament, Mike Sullivan was adjusting to the new reality of being a regular citizen once more. He agreed to an in-depth interview and we sat down last Friday over coffees in a busy Perfect Blend Bakery. We touched on four main topics that we will roll out over the next four days;

Already published:

1. Fallout from the election

2. The Weston Cultural Hub

The third issue that we discussed was Metrolinx and transit implications for Weston.

3. Metrolinx

Prior to winning a seat in the House of Commons in 2011, Sullivan was co-chair of the Clean Train Coalition, a grass roots community group dedicated to electrification of the rail lines that run through what used to be known as the Georgetown Corridor. He was a vocal critic of the Airport Rail Link before it became known as the UP Express. For a flashback to the past, this interview with Sullivan is a good refresher on the issues back in 2010.

Sullivan is still keenly interested in transit as it pertains to Weston. We started with the new GO Station parking lot and and its role as host to the Weston Farmers Market for the foreseeable future.

Metrolinx is giving the farmers market (the GO Station Parking lot) for free for the next couple of years because there are no GO Trains on Saturdays and because you’re not allowed to park overnight on that (GO Train) lot. No one will use that lot to take the Airport connection. When Metrolinx was first talking about the quantities of parking that they were going to need, I got the impression that because they were going to market the link as an alternative to parking at the airport so you would pay $16 each way for the ride and park for free. And so that’s why they’re building that massive lot at the south end for the GO patrons and the North end will be potentially long term although Metrolinx told me that they have no intention of doing that they’re so desperate for ridership and ours is the only station where there is any possibility of parking.

Between Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack and the new LRT line, many have been wondering what will happen to Weston’s GO and UP Express stations once the LRT is complete. A new Mount Dennis station will be located uncomfortably close to Weston.

Watch this dream-like video. Notice the connections to GO and UP Express marked on the station entrance. Read more about the station here.

Sullivan spoke briefly about the way the New Eglinton LRT line will disrupt everything.

When the Eglinton LRT is opened, the UP Express and GO train will stop at Eglinton. That’s not good if you live in Weston.

The implication being that having two stations so close together will be mean that one will have to go. In other words, the least useful will become redundant and that could be Weston because it’s not a major transfer point as a triple rail intersection would be. The Mount Dennis Station will allow a transfer between GO, the UP Express, the Eglinton LRT not to mention the hastily planned election promise that was SmartTrack.

Weston may have another fight on its hands if it is to keep its two stations.

Sullivan moved on to the expensive and barely used UP Express and is sceptical about the latest Metrolinx UP Express ridership numbers.

UP Express claimed October ridership was higher in October but they didn’t take into account the fact that October has an extra day.

 

When asked to comment on the ticket prices charged by UP Express, Sullivan claims that the cost of running UPX is about $5 per fare. If this is the case, Metrolinx has lots of room to manoeuvre. Rumblings have already started about a really competitive fare that would boost ridership numbers. No doubt the New Year will bring a sober second look at prices.

Tomorrow: The Church Street, former Humber River Regional Hospital Site.