Monthly Archives: January 2011

TTC meeting on bus route cuts

Public meeting with no deputations
People fill out comment sheets, talk to TTC reps
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 26)

Christine Miller looks at info on a bus route cut impacting her commute. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

As part of the 2011 budget process the TTC has vowed to cut 48 bus routes in order to increase service on other unspecified routes.
However, a decision on bus route reductions was postponed until Feb. 2 to allow for public consultations so those impacted by the cuts can plead their case.
At the meeting held at the North York Central Library Christine Miller, who relies on two of the bus routes were service reductions are proposed: 56 Leaside and 62 Mortimer, told the Town Crier that the proposed cuts could imperil her safety.
“I take them for work and a night out,” she told the Town Crier. “I get off (work) at midnight. That’s my safe ride home.”
She works as a security guard in midtown and lives in East York. For her the cuts would mean no service after 10 p.m. on weekdays and after 7 p.m. on weekends on the 56 Leaside route. And on 62 Mortimer no service after 10 p.m. on weekends.
“I work ‘til midnight on Saturdays and Sundays as well,” said the 27 year old. “One alternative is 25 Don Mills.”
This would take her close to home but walking a different route that has safety concerns, she said.

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Toronto budget public input

Residents, business people have their say on 2011 budget
Opinions vary widely on priorities
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 21)

Margaret Watson advocates to sub-budget committee to not increase user fees for recreation. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Councillors got an earful from residents, businesses and community groups who came out to speak on the city’s budget at North York Civic Centre.
New councillor Doug Ford, brother to Mayor Rob Ford, chaired the meeting at times with occasionally humourous results.
He mistakenly introduced Margaret Watson from the Canadian Pensioners’ Concern as a deputant about prisoners’ issues. He made a joke of it by saying he needed glasses and playfully referred to former budget chief Councillor Shelley Carroll as “the warden”.
For her part, Watson gave a feisty presentation about preserving services.
“Many seniors are tenants who receive pressure from landlords. We are disappointed you have cut $100,000 from the tenant defence fund,” she said at the Jan. 19 public meeting. “We hope council doesn’t want to put more tenants at risk of homelessness.”

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Advocating for change at city hall

How to impact change in Toronto
(Column written for Town Crier Dec. 22)

“You say you want a revolution,” the Beatles sang. “Well, you know, we all want to change the world.”
Even if it’s not a revolutionary change you are seeking, here are some tips on preserving a cherished service or advocating for a new policy at city hall.
As I wrote in a previous column, you can achieve small changes by calling 311, your municipal councillor, or by making a deputation at city hall.
But if you are seeking larger policy changes or want to protect services from being slashed, you’ll need a stronger game plan.
Do your research
Councillor Gord Perks is no stranger to activism, dating back to 1987 when he was involved with Pollution Probe, Greenpeace Canada and Toronto Environmental Alliance — all before he entered politics.
“You will have opponents so your information has to be as good or better,” he said.
So know your facts: why does it make economic, social and political sense for policymakers to agree with you? Continue reading

Councillor John Filion sued

Former exec director of North York Symphony sues board for wages
Filion states he wasn’t board member, seeks city help for legal fees
Kris Scheuer
(Updated and revised article for the Town Crier.)

Councillor John Filion is among 18 alleged North York Symphony board members named in a lawsuit for backpay by a former employee Linda Rogers.

Willowdale Councillor John Filion has settled a lawsuit involving a former North York Symphony employee who claimed $50,000 in unpaid wages for her final years of employment.
City council decided to foot the bill for Filion’s legal expenses.
Trouble is Filion says he was never a member of the board and doesn’t understand why he was named in the suit to begin with.
The claim for the symphony’s former director, Linda Rogers, was filed with the Ontario Superior Court last summer. Since then, a judge has ordered Filion and another individual served with papers to pay Rogers damages.
Rogers lawyer James McDonald of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell confirmed in an early February interview that he and Filion’s lawyer have reached a settlement.
Filion says the original inclusion of naming him in lawsuit is puzzling.
“I never attended any board meeting,” Filion said Jan. 18. “I don’t believe I was ever on the board. I especially was not on the board by anyone’s account in the period when the employee (Linda Rogers) alleges they weren’t paid in 2008 and 2009.”“The whole issue has nothing to do with me,” he said.
In a summary judgement the court ordered Filion and Krajny to pay Rogers a total of $34,336.37 plus $1,150 in costs plus two percent interest starting Nov. 22, 2010, according to court documents.

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North York development push

Residents, Councillor Pasternak not a fan of townhouse plan
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan.4)

Residents Maria Korenberg, Maureen Simpson, Harold Raven, Daisy Stone, Les Resnick are among hundreds against the current townhouse proposal. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

A plan to add almost 200 townhouses to a quiet enclave in North York is drawing the ire of nearby residents, who say they want the land to remain as green space.
The Toronto District School Board sold vacant land at 55 Antibes Drive to developer Menkes, which has proposed 197 condo townhouses.
If approved, the development will feature 16 units facing Antibes and 181 townhouses accessed from a new public road.
The grassy site is northwest of Finch and Bathurst and residents have been using the property as a playing field especially as it is directly east of Antibes Park. Resident Harold Raven has helped organize neighbours to fight the project.
“The community as a whole objects to the redevelopment of the site,” the Antibes resident says. “It is green space.”
With the oval-shaped neighbourhood lined with narrow roads, condos, highrise apartments and townhouses, Raven said the area is high density already.
“Traffic is horrific now, If you get 197 town homes with 300 cars it will turn the traffic problem into a nightmare,” he said.

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Noise barrier cut from TTC budget

Proposal to erect noise buffer near Allen and Eglinton chopped
Toronto councillor pushes for project to be added back in TTC budget
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan.20)

Residents living near Eglinton’s Allen Expressway on-ramp say they are furious with TTC for quashing a plan to put a noise barrier between their neighbourhood and a noisy commuter lot.
The approved noise barrier project was noticeably absent when TTC presented its 2011 capital budget in January.

Residents Tom Sandler, left, and Randy Daiter are petitioning the TTC to restore funding for a noise barrier near Allen Road. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

For years, residents living on Wembley Road have complained about honking, beeping and cursing from drivers competing to enter the expressway from Eglinton Avenue, and the noise coming from an adjacent commuter parking lot.
Four years ago, local councillor Joe Mihevc began pushing for funding of a noise barrier along the north side of the lot and the south side of the road’s residential properties.
“There’s been a 10-year plan for all the noise barriers on the Allen,” Mihevc said. “This is the last piece.”
In 2010, about $1.2 million was approved for the noise barrier. The plan was to design and tender it for contract this year, then build it in 2012, Mihevc said.
But there’s been a change of heart at the transit commission. Continue reading

TTC bus routes under threat

City proposes reducing service on 48 bus routes
Kris Scheuer
(Update on the Feb. 2 decision.)

TTC proposes cutting service hours on 48 bus routes with few riders and increasing service elsewhere.

The TTC voted today to postpone cutting weekend, evening and holiday service on almost 50 routes.
But the issue will come back to the commission’s Feb. 2 meeting. The TTC will hold four public meetings on the proposed cuts.
Here is the complete list of proposed service cuts.
5 AVENUE RD – No service after 7:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. No service on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
61 AVENUE RD NORTH – No service after 10:00 p.m., Sundays and holidays.
6 BAY – No service after 10:00 p.m., every day.
9 BELLAMY – No service after 10:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. No service after 7:00 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Continue reading

TTC bus routes saved for now

Commission delays vote on bus service reductions
Cuts would impact 1.2 mil transit rides a year
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 12. Feb 1 UPDATE.)

Councillor Josh Matlow updates his website with a list of the 48 bus routes where service could be reduced. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Yesterday it was fare increases that were cancelled, today the TTC voted to put on hold a decision to cut service on 48 bus routes.
The plan was to shorten hours on nearly 50 underused routes starting March 27 and reallocate money to improve service on busy, but unnamed routes this fall.
Residents, transit advocates and councillors made deputations pleading for the commission to reconsider.
“This isn’t the kind of efficiency people are looking for,” said ex-Ward 17 councillor candidate Jonah Schein, who uses the Davenport bus.
Resident Walied Khogali said he found out yesterday his daily Wellesley 94 route was on the list for reductions.
“I talked to people (on the bus) coming to and from work and they had no clue about the service cuts,” he told the commission. “Ride the buses and find out how people will be affected.”
In the end, TTC commissioner and councillor Cesar Palacio moved the motion that deferred a decision on the reduced bus hours until the Feb. 2 commission meeting. Continue reading

TTC fare increase cancelled

Day after TTC fare hike announced, city finds cash to avoid increase
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 11)

TTC chair Karen Stintz announced today a transit fare hike is cancelled, which should keep more riders using the city's transit network. Photo by Kris Scheuer.

Looks like there won’t be a TTC fare increase after all.
One day after Mayor Rob Ford begrudgingly announced a 10 cent transit hike to make up a $24 million budget gap the city declared its delivering an extra $16 million to the TTC and will let the transit commission axe $8 million in unspecified cuts at a later date.
“Fare increases and service cuts are the last options the TTC looks at,” TTC chair Karen Stintz  told the Town Crier. “We want to make sure the fares remain affordable for those who are dependent on transit.”
The cancellation was made possible after city staff was able to find the money needed to keep fares at current levels.
“The city manager was able to identify the $16 million so that our (TTC) subsidy could be increased and we were able to manage ($8 million) through unspecified cuts,” said Stintz.“We have $8 million that we will have to manage (cut) throughout the year. It won’t be a service cut.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross didn’t have details on where the $8 million in cuts would come from, but hoped to have more information on Wednesday when the TTC meets to vote on its budget.

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Mayor Ford’s unveils 2011 budget

No “major” service cuts announced
However, some councillors not keen on those that did occur
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 10)

Mayor Rob Ford promises no major service cuts, zero tax increase in proposed 2011 city budget. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Mayor Rob Ford had announced the introduction of the 2011 Respect For Taxpayers budget by repeating his promises of zero property tax increases and no major service cuts.
“This budget follows one of the largest consultation processes in Canadian politics. It was called the Toronto municipal election,” said Ford, referring to the 10 month election campaign. “(Voters) told us very clearly they want us to stop the waste and reduce city expenses.”
Monday, Jan. 10 was the first day of an expedited process that will see the 2011 budget approved by the end of February rather than early April.
Reduce expenses
Ford had asked all departments to reduce their budgets by five percent but a preliminary look shows this request had mixed results. Municipal Licensing and Services requested an additional 12 percent while Employment and Social Services cut its budget by 26 percent.

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