New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

There is a saying that ‘All politics is local‘. Here in Weston, we are blessed with politicians and three levels of government that don’t neglect to tax us in various ways yet seemingly invest little in our neighbourhood.

This is my personal list for our politicians and even for the citizens of Weston. Readers are encouraged to add their own contributions.

There is much that is wrong with Weston and at the same time reason for optimism. Weston looks tired and could be so much more. Nobody likes to shop in a run down area yet customers are the life blood of stores. The type of main street layout seen along Weston Road is the basis of revitalization in Bloor West Village and other parts of the city. It’s one thing to attack political opponents for criticizing Weston’s appearance but as recent Council candidate Dory Chalhoub pointed out, the reality of litter strewn streets, empty stores and dilapidated signage stares us in the face every day.

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Bicycle (and skate) maker CCM went bankrupt in 1983 and yet we still use the slogan ‘Home of the Bicycle’.

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Our slogan could just as legitimately be ‘Home of the Skate’ or ‘Home of Bankruptcy’, or even… ‘Home of the B.I.A. (Weston Village Business Improvement Area is one of the oldest and has been going since 1979).

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Weston BIA Resolutions:

1. Come up with a plan to replace the tired bicycle logos and ‘Home of the Bicycle’ slogan with something more meaningful to Weston – perhaps along the lines of our proximity to the Humber and beautiful parkland.

2. Encourage BIA members to take advantage of the City of Toronto’s financial support for sign replacement.

3. Members should keep their properties in good order and clean up litter on a daily basis.

3. Work on schemes that will boost attendance at the Weston Farmers Market.

4. Stores that sit vacant for months on end do nothing for the community and lower custom in remaining stores. Contact owners and find creative ways of beautifying vacant storefronts and using empty space.

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Frances Nunziata: Resolutions:

1. Focus on the appearance of Weston through the B.I.A. and similar organizations as well as money from the City.

2. Work to reduce litter and visual pollution along Weston’s business areas.

3. Revitalize the Weston Farmers’ Market.

4. Find ways of dealing with empty storefronts that plague our business districts.

5. Continue to look for ways to bring meaningful and well paid employment to Weston.

6. Encourage and facilitate completion of the Humber Trail from Mallaby Park northward.

7. Encourage 12 Division officers to get out of their cars and walk the streets of Weston.

Laura Albanese: Resolutions

1. Use your position to get the Weston Farmers’ Market in on the LCBO pilot project (even though it’s now beginning its second year). This would surely boost attendance.

2. Continue to press Metrolinx to electrify the UP Express and the Kitchener GO line. Also continue your efforts to lower fares on the UP Express with the goal of creating an above ground commuter line that will serve communities along the way.

3. Look for grants that will elevate the poorer parts of the riding and encourage education and prosperity.

4. Look for a way to establish a government office in Weston. This will boost employment and stimulate local business.

5. Investigate the possibility of attracting a community college or university campus to Weston.

6. Work with Councillor Nunziata to encourage and facilitate completion of the Humber Trail from Mallaby Park northward.

Mike Sullivan: Resolutions

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1. It’s great that you have a constituency office here in Weston. Set an example by freshening the paint and landscaping its exterior. Use the business directly across the street as your model.

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2. Continue to bring matters pertaining to Weston to the attention of the community and the appropriate representative. No, your party is not in government; we get that. Yes, we understand you’re a federal politician, not a provincial politician or the city councillor. As an MP, your mandate is to help and facilitate matters for all your constituents and not be hung up about jurisdictions.

3. Work in conjunction with colleagues from the other levels of government to reduce the levels of crime and poverty in Weston.

4. Call attention to the role of payday loan companies and their predatory effects on the poor.

4. Continue to call attention to the Harper Government’s attack on the environment with particular emphasis on how it affects Westonians.

Citizens of Weston: Resolutions

1. We need to stop lamenting the past glories of Weston and move on. We have an active Historical Society that helps us celebrate the past. The only thing we can change is the future.

2. A vibrant shopping district needs people who will take the trouble to patronize its stores. Don’t expect stores to sell us what we want without actually visiting and spending money.

3. Crime levels in Weston are lower than in many areas of Toronto. Get out of the SUV. The walk will do us good.

4. Politicians have no idea what we think unless we tell them. Don’t be shy.

Weston Business Improvement Area: Phone: 416-249-0691

Laura Albanese: Phone: 416-243-7984

Frances Nunziata: Phone: 416-392-4091

Mike Sullivan: Phone: 416-656-2526

 

UPX fore-lash

The UP Express backlash backlash has started. Several supporters in the downtown media have come out in favour of the $27 fares, which were announced last week.

Marcus Gee, of the Globe and Mail, says,

This line was never supposed to be part of the city’s ordinary public transit network, to be used for local trips. It was designed to be like Tokyo’s Narita Express or London’s Heathrow Express, high-end rapid services with fares to match.

But to say it is only for the rich and so deserves no public funding takes things too far. The standard fare for a one-way UP ride was announced this week: $27.50. That is hardly outrageous for a traveller who may have spent hundreds of dollars on a flight and $25 or more just for checked baggage.

The National Post convened a panel of yay-sayers, who, by in large, said something along these lines:

[After the fare announcement] the bitchfest began anew: Too expensive, not a commuter service, too many stops, inappropriate use of public money, ugly diesel trains, yadda yadda yadda. Personally, I’m willing to set aside my limited objections and call the long-awaited airport link a huge win

 

Website commenters have been less kind, almost uniformly rejecting the fares—and, interestingly, the criticism comes from readers of all political inclinations. A Yahoo reader pointed out that VIA is offering a trip to Montreal for $44 dollars. A Sun reader said, “Well, more and more folks will be taking flights from Buffalo, that’s for sure.” A CBC reader wrote “This is infuriating. Public money being spent to give corporate travelers a luxury ride. Unbelievable. This is a disgrace.”

In response to the fares, the TTC rebranded its 192 Airport Express bus with a new theme (and at no taxpayer expense). The bus says “Your journey starts here”

From The Star

 

No tunnel noise walls

Weston is about to get much noisier. Metrolinx is abandoning its plans to build some of the noise walls that would have dampened noise from the new airport trains.

Manuel Pedrosa, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, says that “planned noise walls were not technically and economically feasible to be built on the Weston Tunnel Walls. The noise walls, as designed, are too heavy to be attached to the Weston Tunnel wall”. (Emphasis mine.)

Pedrosa says there will be no noise walls on the “strutted area” of the tunnel. This includes the areas between, roughly, John and Queenslea (in purple).

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It is not yet clear whether there will be noise walls in the other areas of the Weston tunnel (in red). Pedrosa said “We are currently reviewing the constructability [sic] of the other planned noise walls in the area”; I have asked him for clarification. I have also asked him to clarify the effects on nearby properties and the farmers’ market.

In the Junction, they do not want walls, but they’re getting them. In Weston, we want them but we are told we can’t have them.

UP Express fare structure announced.

The long awaited and speculated  pricing structure for the Union Pearson Express has been released to the public and as predicted, the price for a ride from Union Station to Terminal 1 is close to the $30 mark. Those of us travelling from Weston will be able to get there for $16.50 and even cheaper when using a Presto card.

From Metrolinx site.
From Metrolinx site.

The complete pricing grid look like this:

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Travelling in the other direction, an adult fare from Weston to downtown and back (2 stops) with Presto would be $30.40 or $44 without. This is cheaper than a taxi and way more comfortable than TTC but at quite a premium.

Airport employees will be able to access a one-way fare of $10 or buy a monthly pass for $300. Read more fine print here.

This of course is all subject to the big rubber stamp to be administered at tomorrow’s Metrolinx Board of Directors’ meeting.

This afternoon, York South-Weston MP Mike Sullivan released the following statement:

 

OTTAWA – “First, I am disappointed that the Ontario Minister of Transportation pre-empted tomorrow’s Metrolinx board meeting with this announcement. This turns tomorrow’s meeting into a rubber-stamping exercise which is most unfortunate.  It makes it abundantly clear though that the decision is not a Metrolinx decision, but a provincial government one, as has been the case at every step of this project.

 

With regards to the fare structure, it makes riding the Union Pearson Express beyond the means of many airport travelers. Fares should be comparable to existing GO Transit and TTC fares from downtown to the airport. The UP Express fares are not.  The project has cost nearly $1.5-billion public dollars.  It should be  transportation for the 99 per cent, not just the 1 per cent.

 

As an example, a family of four in Weston — two adults with two school-aged children — even with a Presto card, would pay more to ride the UP Express than they would by taking an airport limo service. (Note: UP Express $42.20; Airflight Services Limo $32 to $36 http://www.airflightservices.com/doc/toronto_markham_richmond_hill_vaughan.pdf.)

 

While I hope I’m wrong, I see a service that is being deliberately overpriced to keep ordinary working folk from using this form of public transit. Consultants told us that their costs to run the service with the trains one-fifth full will be $4.93 per passenger. Charging reasonable fares will fill the trains and still cover operating costs.  At the end of the day, taxpayers built the UP Express and should be able to use it affordably to take advantage of the $1.5-billion that has already been spent on this project.”

 

TTCRiders starting UPX petition

TTCRiders, a transit advocacy group, is reigniting the smouldering anger about the proposed UP Express fares. They have started an online petition and a website to ask the government to:

  • charge affordable TTC-level fares and accept fare transfers
  • run frequent service, and include more stops
  • run clean electric trains asap, not cancerous diesel trains
  • talk to residents before deciding the fare price
  • keep the service public

While other groups have pushed for similar goals in the past, TTCRiders is a city-wide organization, not based only in the west end. It is also backed by airport unions (whose members may take the train).

The group says that Metrolinx will be setting the fare for the UP Express (likely to be between $20 and $30) at its December 11 meeting.

The petition has received 323 signatures.

The stops you won’t be getting.