Green tunnel cover a model for the city

Edward Keenan from The Star wrote about one of Weston’s most unremarkable marvels: the parkland that covers the UP Express. It’s well worth the read.

From The Star
From The Star

I fancy myself a pretty keen observer of Weston goings-on, but clearly I’m not: this story totally snuck up on me. The greenspace is not just just a park for the sometime-to-be-built St John the Evangelist school:

The lots on either side of the school, bordering King and Church Streets, will be home to city parkland, including an off-leash dog area, a community garden and a playground. But the transfer of land and responsibility from Metrolinx to the city government and school board is still in negotiations.

If, that is, it ever gets opened. As Keenan points out, that last sentence is a bad sign. The John Street bridge is still in negotiations too. It was supposed to be open months, even years, ago. But the city and Metrolinx can’t come to an agreement over, of all things, maintenance.

Frances Nunziata told Keenan that the dog park on King will be open in 2017. The other end of the park will open, she says, in 2018.

Final stop for Weston Station?

Frances Nunziata wants to pull Weston Station’s ticket. She is asking city staff to ask the AGCO to not transfer the alcohol license for the troublesome neighbourhood bar.

The current owner is asking to transfer the license to another person with “business ties with the current licensee”. Nunziata would like to block that because the bar “has been a constant source of complaints from the community and a ‘hot spot’ for crime”

Weston Station was dinged by the AGCO for not posting their license, for allowing drunkenness, and for allowing patrons to take alcohol out of the bar.

Nunziata says “It is time that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario put an end to this.”


Bike path plans

There’s a good chance I’ll be dead before the city builds bike lanes right. Still, they’re making some small amount of progress.

Toronto is considering a new bike plan that would, among many other things, build several new lanes in and around Weston. There’s much to love: finally, we’ll get a bike lane on Wilson and join the separated parts of the Humber River Trail.

Unfortunately, the plans include a few really bad ideas, including a bike lane up Jane Street.

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I can speak of this with some authority; I ride that route every day. Jane Street is a death trap, and it can’t be fixed. There are narrow bridges, highway on- and off-ramps, many driveways, and much traffic in a rush. No amount of paint will fix that.

But there’s a much better alternative. In fact, there are two. Both Torbarrie and Bartor are quiet streets that run parallel to Jane. They’re wide and direct and connect with bike paths. Truly, there is no reason to prefer Jane.

The proposal also misses a potential connection. The Humber River Path is an excellent direct route to Humber College. (It’s also a lovely ride.) Presently, the path takes a meandering U-shaped detour soon after it crosses under the 401. Putting a bike path along the boulevard on Albion would directly connect Toronto to north Etobicoke. It is probably only 500m of paint, and a real lost opportunity.

The city will consider five plans at the Public Works meeting on the 16th. Were the councillors to vote for the most expensive plan (which is $25 million a year for 10 years), Weston would start seeing improvements in 2019. If they vote for the cheapest plan ($8 million), it will take until 2022.



Police Sevices Board expresses condolences to Yatim family: spells their name wrong

Put yourself in the Yatim family’s home: your 18 year old son is dead, shot 9 times by a cop who was in no danger. His bloody death is videoed, now on the internet and in the papers, reviewed and judged by millions of strangers. The cops close ranks. It must seem much like Syria, the country you fled five years ago. The powerful kill wordlessly. They are impervious.

And then some relief. After days, the boss of bosses, the Police Services Board, reaches out to console and reassure you. Maybe they will help?

They spell your name wrong. They don’t quite know when your son was killed.

The Toronto Police Services Board, on which Councillor Nunziata serves, has issued a press release expressing itssincere sympathy to the family of Sammy Yatin at this time of their grievous loss”. The man shot by police last weekend was Sammy Yatim, 18.

The press release goes on to say that

Like Mr. Yatin’s family and other Torontonians, the Toronto Police Services Board seeks to understand the tragic events that transpired on July 26, 2013.[1]

But Yatim was not killed on the 26th. He was killed in the early morning of the 27th. Hurried deadlines did not lead to these errors. The press release was issued July 30th, three days after his killing.

You might think that an oversight body would have someone who can do a little fact checking.

Anglicization of a foreign name is not to blame. The TPSB actually spells the young dead man’s name in two different ways; at the end of the release, they call him Yatim, like every newspaper has.

Press releases so exsanguinated—if you’ll pardon the word in this context—can be very hard to get through, but, if we are to investigate the murder of a young man, we really ought to know his name and the date on which he was killed. A supervisory body that can’t find a newspaper and a calendar will find neither the truth nor the public’s trust.




The TPSB has issued a correction. They now spell Yatim’s name correctly.

[1] Yatim was killed shortly after midnight.


Nunziata makes asks at City Council

City Council last week was a long and brutal battle that included yelling, name calling, and tears. Little of the business had to do directly with Weston, but Frances Nunziata did have a few asks on the table.

Nunziata, true to form, was again after illegal after-hours bars. She asked the City Solicitor to consult with the AGCO and municipal licensing to see what can be done to deter the “violent crime, robberies, drugs, and prostitution [that[ are serious concerns associated with establishments with repeated liquor licence infractions.”

Nunziata also asked to prioritize a public meeting about sewage back ups and flooding. The next meeting was to be held in the fall of 2013. She asked for it to be done sooner.

Nunziata wants to license bikes

Where's your licence?

Fresh from Police Board budget discussions, Councillor Nunziata has wasted no time in raising the issue of licensing bicycles. According to the Sun, our councillor thinks licensing will help reduce ‘the number of fatalities we have on the streets’ (currently averaging around 2 annually).

This old chestnut has been raised in the past and is guaranteed to stir up a hornet’s nest of discussion, pitting car owners against cyclists. There’s a great punitive aspect to the idea, no doubt hatched when following a cyclist on a street which no longer has a bike lane. Trial balloons are a great distraction from real issues such as factory closures and police budgets, so why not?  It’s difficult to count the number of lives saved by cyclists’ improved health but that’s why some intelligent debate is needed.

Let’s look at another licensing debacle: domestic pets. Torontonians are required to license their cats and dogs, but most owners don’t bother. The money brought in from licensing just about pays for the bureaucracy needed to administer the program. Fees are $60 and $25 for dogs and $50 and $15 for cats (intact, neutered). Rob Ford even suggested doing away with licensing because of this lack of revenue. One wonders what the licensing fee would have to be to make bicycle licenses break even. The set-up costs for this program will be considerable, not to mention the army of bureaucrats needed. How many casual cyclists will cough up $25+ annually for the privilege? What about families and their children’s bikes? Will we turn more citizens into scofflaws? Will people become even more sedentary? You can bet that the last people to licence their bikes will be the ones who ride on the sidewalk and sail through stop signs.

It’s bad enough that bike lanes are being removed by the Ford administration. It is supremely ironic that the so called ‘home of the bicycle’ has a councillor who would like to put another nail in the coffin of cycling in Toronto.