Transit board approves options for Greenwood and Donlands 2nd exits
(Written July 15 for Town Crier.)
The TTC has agreed to adopt a community’s proposal for a new exit planned for Greenwood subway station.
But there’s one caveat: It could still involve home expropriation.
The neighbourhood near Greenwood and Donlands station got up in arms in July after the TTC announced plans to build new exits for both subway stations involved expropriation.
The transit commission’s original plan was to buy or expropriate a pair of homes on Strathmore Boulevard including 247, which is owned by Danny and Grace Calia. They have lived there for 51 years, and don’t want to move.
After outcry from the family and neighbours, the community presented a new option at a July 12 public meeting. The TTC has now adopted the option as the go-ahead plan: expropriating property on Linnsmore Crescent instead.
The emergency exit would be located on Linnsmore across from Greenwood station’s current exit/entrance.
Though residents on Strathmore were pleased with the new plan, it seems the frustration has landed on someone else’s doorstep.
Gus Vagenas owns 9 Linnsmore, which is one of the homes the TTC now wants to buy or expropriate. He only found out about this new plan July 13 through the media and has since met with TTC staff.
“I feel like a second-class citizen in this city and a second-class citizen in this community,” he told the TTC board.
His daughter Soula Vagenas added, “We received no message, no letters from the TTC. Not until 9 a.m. (July 14) did we learn about today’s meeting.
“We are saddened and disappointed with the TTC and disappointed with the community that proposed this.”
Vagenas’s Linnsmore house has been under construction for about four years and had been vacant for about four years prior, according to a neighbour.
It is currently vacant, TTC chair Adam Giambrone confirmed.
If Vagenas chooses not to sell, the TTC could purchase a different Linnsmore home. If no one wants to sell on Linnsmore, the TTC will revert back to the plan to expropriate 247 Strathmore.
Danny and Grace Calia’s daughter Bruna Amabile has asked the TTC to take her parents home off the list of options, but that didn’t happen.
“I would have liked to leave today so that my parents can finally relax. They have been put through enough,” said Amabile, who lives at 243 Strathmore.
And troubles don’t end there.
Over near Donlands station, Lisa Dymond isn’t happy with the TTC’s plans for a new subway exit.
Dymond, who spoke on behalf of several neighbours at the TTC board meeting, wanted a deferral, but the board voted to proceed with several options to build an emergency exit for that subway station.
“We’re very disappointed…The commission and TTC didn’t hear us,” she said after the July 14 vote.
Residents in Dymond’s area started getting form letters on June 17 notifying them that their homes could be expropriated for a planned Donlands subway exit. Two public meetings followed, and the TTC vote was less than a month later.
In the end, the TTC voted to try another option and build a second Donlands subway exit on part of the existing roadway on Dewhurst Boulevard. That would make the street one-way.
That would have traffic implications and requires consultation with city staff. If it’s not feasible, the TTC will revert to its original option of buying homes at 1 and 3 Strathmore. This option also requires partially expropriating a dozen front lawns.
TTC staff will report back to the board’s August 23 meeting on the plan and promises public consultation and a construction liaison committee.
It’s all too rushed for Dymond, who lives on Strathmore.
“We are concerned about the implications long-term,” she said. “It’s the process that’s wrong and the (solution) that’s wrong.”
Hey, thanks for the opportunity.
“Voting the bums out” is one way, sure. But when they get a nice fat pension on the way out the door, that’s not much of a lesson.
Which brings me to the idea that maybe we shouldn’t have reps who exclusively work at City Hall. Having to hold a private sector job is one way to keep reps constantly in touch with the governed.
To me, the number, the race, the height, or the creed of candidates matter in whether a candidate is worthy of my vote. Their ideas and their integrity are what matter to me.
When was the last time we had a debate where all ideas were given fair discussion and consideration?
Allow me to introduce an idea which almost never gets discussed fairly: “individual freedom”.
For instance, I asked Jennifer Wood “which law do you want to get rid of?” She said there were none, but there were some she’d like to change. That’s the stance of practically all candidates. Candidates typically want to enact new laws, change existing laws, and use tax money in some new manner, but never seem to want to repeal any laws. How about a candidate that wants to tax us less, or plan less of our lives – is that really so absurd?
Why would someone who values their individual freedom want to vote for people who want to take their income and restrict their life in some new way? Why reward candidates who stand for ideas that you dislike?
Consider that our candidates’ ideas may not match what 61% of the people want. What then? Or what if people lost in faith in voting because the system doesn’t hold the lying/cheating leaders accountable? Or, what if we had a system where our governors are rewarded for their failure and incompetence, over and over? In these scenarios, what compelling reason could you give a pessimistic person about the value of a vote? Imploring these people to “vote one more time” isn’t going to work if the system doesn’t improve for them.
The 61% of the population are probably either disillusioned or indifferent with our system. I don’t think we’ll get any answers unless we have an accessible, open and fair exchange of ideas about our current system.
I really appreciate your questions, comments on this.
And you bring up some very valid points. One thing I will respond to is you mention politicians are rewarded over and over even if they lie/cheat and aren’t held to account. Isn’t voting politicians out of office, a sure fire way to hold them to account?
I totally agree, its not cool that such a small minority dictates who governs us.
Is it okay that 61 percent let others choose who run this city? I think its absurd. But sure, if that’s what they want. Who am I to dictate what choices other people should make?
A better crop of candidates can’t come fast enough on election day. If there are no candidates that match a person’s views why compel them to vote for one of them? I don’t see the logic in it, can you ?
We’re experiencing a breakdown in societal engagement. I believe we need focus on why people don’t want to vote and listen to them, rather than to spend time making them vote.
That’s what I am trying to do: understand why people don’t vote. But I still believe there’s many compelling reasons to vote. Clearly you care deeply about this city and am not saying that the only way to show you care is to vote. But when people care, are concerned, worried, engaged with the city’s issues I feel that is a compelling reason to vote. It’s for the very reason that we do care what happens to the city, our community, our family, ourselves, neighbourhoods and other Torontonians that I believe we should be involved in choosing a council that has a vision and plan to improve the city and the lives of those who work and live here. No government is not the answer to everything, far from it, but city hall makes decisions that impact us so why not have a say in picking people who share our vision?
It’s not about dictating choice. I am not telling people to vote for a mayor, councillors and vision that is the same as the one I want. But there are 34 people running for mayor and hundreds running for council in 44 wards. I am not convinced that the choices are that limited.
Yes we need more females, more visible minorities running for council and perhaps some fresh faces to give people more choice.
But you seem to be saying even if 1000 people ran for mayor that doesn’t mean there’s a reason for more than 39% to turn up and vote?
If it’s not about more choices of candidates, what is it that we should focus on to increase voter turn out? Isn’t the fact we have low voter turn a problem we should aim to change. And I agree forcing people to vote in order to bring up the turnout, isn’t the answer.
My preference is for people to be informed and vote for their best-matched candidate. But faced with options that don’t match one’s beliefs, what should be done? Vote anyway for the least-worst candidate? That isn’t very smart- it gives the false impression of the popularity of a particular candidate, and can actually put someone with bad ideas into power, with the legitimacy of actual votes.
I think we do take the vote for granted, but I also think this is a reflection of how free we think we are.
So our freedom includes not exercising our right to vote if none of the candidates represent our views?
Is that really the only alternative? What about getting a better crop of candidates out there that do offer additional choices closer to our own?
Is it really cool that 39 percent of eligible voters choose our next mayor and council? Is it okay that the other 61 percent that don’t vote for whatever reasons including not liking any of the candidates, let others choose who runs this city?
Thanks for the link. Its a nice read. However, I respectfully disagree.
Low voter turn out is a failure of the system. One of the options you mention, changing the rules so that we have to vote, would only obscure the true picture of the system’s success/failure/relevance.
Real public conversations with facts and accountability will do more to bring voters to the ballot box than coercion.
I also invite you to consider that some people genuinely do not want to vote. These people don’t want to be part of the system, and would rather be left alone. These people choose to engage with one another not politically, but with commerce and friendships. A good system will respect the rights of these individuals.
I believe non-voting is as much a right, and authentic indicator of public engagement than voting.
But I guess I’m off-topic 🙂 Thanks again.
P.S. Apologies to Jane, I mis-spelled her last name in my comment above.
Geoff, absolutely we live in a democratic society where you can choose to vote or not. And yes some people prefer to deal with neighbours, friends, businesses, non-profits and not the government etc to advocate for change or make it happen. But I maintain that whether you do or don’t vote you are still subject to the taxes, laws and impacts of city council decisions. If council votes to increases taxes, add new bus routes, more libraries, additional police officers, more affordable housing, new park playgrounds or spend less on replacing water mains, do less road repair work, collect garbage once a month, expropriate homes to build a new TTC exit or close community centres – I think it is vital to have a say.
Yes whether you vote or not, you can write a letter, make a call, protest, sign a petition or make a deputation for or against a city decision BEFORE it happens. But what if the 34 candidates running for mayor or the hundreds of candidates running for for the 44 council wards told you now that wanted to fix pot holes on your street or plant more trees, or increase police patrols in your neighbourhhood or cancel free recreation programs in priority neighbourhoods. I believe people who can vote should take the time to elect in a city council and mayor that best represent their vision and solutions to make this city better in whatever way residents think the city should improve.
I respectful disagree that NOT voting is okay. Sure it won’t change everything if you vote. But not voting doesn’t change everything either.
If people prefer to deal directly with neighbours to make their community better, they can do that and still vote.
They can work for change plus vote in a councillor who they believe will help their causes. And if politicians don’t help but actually make things worse, vote in someone next time who will. Or run for office or encourage someone you know who can make a difference to run.
And yes you can make change happen without government. But what’s wrong with also choosing a government that you believe will fight along with you?
Plus, we take the vote in Toronto/Canada for granted.
Low voter turnout is a failure of the system. The headlines should focus on this metric, versus who won or lost an election.
Only recently have I started to respect people for choosing not to vote.
Thank-you for keeping the conversation going and inviting others to speak.
I understand there is voter apathy and disengagement for valid reasons and our system of encouraging people to run for office and offering choices to voters is not perfect.
However, I don’t respect people for not voting. Here’s why. It solves nothing. I wrote a column on this, which if you have the time to read you will see all my arguments for why it is so important people vote. It is also important we have candidates who reflect the population (women, visible minorities, etc) and people running on issues of importance to poor, rich, new immigrants, old Canadians, etc. In other words a slew of candidates offering choice.
But I still think people should vote.
What about the protection of an individual’s right to own property?
To be truthful, I’m not very surprised. This is hardly the first time the City has denied residents their right to own property.
The City has been stealing from individuals at an ever-quickening pace. The thieving will ultimately end – but the question is how badly.
I am not sure the city’s thieving as you call it, of people’s property will end. I have not read the Expropriations Act myself but it extends the rights of municipalities in Ontario to expropriate property under certain conditions. So you may not like what the city is doing but that doesn’t mean any Toronto administration doesn’t have the right to offer to buy property for a new roadway or TTC station and if they refuse to expropriate and then compensate the property owner. It may be nasty business, but it’s one with a purpose. I am sure many of the sites and roads we enjoy today are a result of expropriation in order to get the land to build in the right spot.
You highlight the Expropriations Act, thank you. It reminds me of two wolves and a sheep discussing what to have for lunch.
My comment was philosophical: the lack of respect for individual rights will ultimately end. It’s just a shame when you see them occur. The City can dress it up however they want “public good”, “good for X, y, z” – but facts are facts.
For all those who want to take things for themselves, there is a Danny and Grace Calia who are actually paying the price.
I agree there’s a direct impact on people’s lives such as Danny and Grace Calia, whom I met for this story. But also there’s a direct impact on people’s lives by many decisions by the city government. Thus all the more reason to vote in the city election. What city council does impacts people directly so they should take the time to vote in elected officials that represent their views and interests. So I hope voter turnout come Oct 25 is higher than 39 percent of eligible voters.
There is another option which I presented at the July 14th TTC meeting. It is being studied and the residents strongly support it. It places the exit at the east end at Wilkinson School corner. It will be far less disruptive and less expensive and most importantly it provides safe access to the east side of Donlands to the schools for students.
Thanks Jane. I was at that TTC board meeting when you presented your option and the TTC said it would consider it as part of its plan to report back to the transit board in August. I recall you saying this option did not require expropriation of homes or the closure of part of the street or changes to traffic the way other TTC options do (on Strathmore or Dewhurst). I mentioned your option in my article, but it got edited out by Town Crier staff as have other comments in different stories I have written (so it’s not personal). Thanks for letting people know about your option and for your comment.
I just checked out Jane Plitfield’s plan:
Click to access Donlands_Evaluation.pdf
Your initiative demonstrates that you are committed to find solutions for Ward 29, even before the election.
Kris, have the other Ward 29 candidates come up with their own ideas?
it’s hard to say. I was at the TTC’s July 14 board meeting and not at the two public meetings (June 29 and July 12) where some ward 29 candidates may have attended with their ideas. I did not interview the candidates because while they can contribute ideas as many residents did as well (some of which have now become the TTC’s first option) but candidates can’t vote or make an decisions on this now. ‘Cause they aren’t elected yet. And the TTC’s seemed determined to make a decision before the Oct 25 election.
In fairness, ward 29 candidate Mary Fragedakis made a deputation but to my recollection she made statements but did not come up with a different proposal. I listed to all the TTC board deputations and I don’t believe any ward 29 candidates other than Pitfield and Fragedakis spoke however other candidates may have done so at the public meetings.
Here are their websites: Chris Caldwell, MIke Restivo, John Richardson and Jennifer Wood.