Mayor Rob Ford opts for enhanced buses service
Cancels approved, funded Finch light rail transit
But promises FInch subway within a decade
Kris Scheuer and Agnes Ramos
(Written for Town Crier April 1.)
No LRT here: Finch transit riders line up for busy buses. Photo by Agnes Ramos/Town Crier.
It is past rush hour at Finch Station on a colder-than-usual April morning, but the corner where bus commuters wait for the 36 Finch West bus is still a hive of activity.
Lines form, and people wait.
The bus route that travels from Yonge all the way past Kipling in Toronto’s west end is the busiest bus route at the station, and frustration among riders is growing as the clock ticks on.
Robert Laws, 47, who has been a TTC rider for over four decades, says the bus route is deplorable.
“It’s the worst service I’ve seen in this city,” he said. “It takes me twice as long traveling the same distance than in any other part of the city.
“Obviously something needs to be done about this issue.”
It’s a familiar complaint among Finch West commuters, and one they worry isn’t going anytime soon, now that the city has effectively cancelled a once sought-after plan for light rail on Finch.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged Agnes Ramos, buses, cancelled, Finch, James Pasternak, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor, Rob Ford, Robert Laws, Sheila Nemeth, Toronto, Town Crier, Transit
Toronto Community Housing renovated 42 Hubbard Blvd
While housing nearby for sale, this site gets $4 mil reno
(Written for Town Crier April 7.)
Kew Beach resident Deborah Beaven will be moving back to renovated Toronto Community Housing apartment complex at 42 Hubbard Blvd. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
Deborah Beaven can’t wait to move back home to her Toronto Community Housing apartment at 42 Hubbard Blvd.
She’s lived at the 27-unit Kew Beach apartment complex for over two decades, but all the tenants were moved out two years ago when mould was found throughout the building.
This summer she and any of the previous tenants who wish to return will be moving back home.
“I am down there every second day watching it (construction),” said Beaven. “I am marking the days on my calendar. I miss being in my home. I miss my neighbours of 22 years.”
Beaven was one of the lucky ones as she was relocated only seven blocks away.
“But it’s a world away,” said Beaven, who was the 42 Hubbard’s tenant rep for seven years.
She said through phone calls, emails and Facebook connections she gathers that 80-85 percent of previous tenants plan to return to the Hubbard building, which offers a mix of rent-geared-to-income and market rent apartments.
Posted in Toronto Beaches
Tagged 42 Hubbard, Beach, Case Ootes, community, Deborah Beaven, fix, housing, Kris Scheuer, Mould, renovation, Toronto, Town Crier
Case Ootes lone board member votes to sell 22 homes
City-owned housing provider to make millions
Money would be used to fix crumbling housing stock
(Written April 6 for Town Crier.)
Case Ootes explains his vote to sell 22 social housing properties. Kris Scheuer/Town Crier photo.
Case Ootes, the one man board at Toronto Community Housing Corporation, voted today to sell 22 single families homes in the portfolio that could net the corporation up to $15.7 million.
Some who came out to the meeting asked Ootes to defer the decision until a full board is in place this June. But Ootes said he’s acting on recommendations of the previous board to sell these homes including beachfront property on Hubbard Boulevard that are too costly to maintain.
A staff report this issue states the net profits from the sales should be used to tackle the backlog to fix up existing community housing across the city which Ootes pegs at close to $600 million.
“I made the decision based on the fact this corporation is facing serious financial problems,” he told the media after the meeting. “There are almost 2,000 vacant units in some form of disrepair. Money is needed to repair these units.”
But selling all 22 homes, which contain 29 separate units, won’t be a cakewalk.
Currently, 15 of the 29 units are occupied by tenants with most of them paying market rent. The market rent tenants can’t be kicked out by any new owner unless they or their families plan to live in the homes.
“Most buyers do want (houses) to be vacant so it will be more difficult to sell,” said Ootes. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged Beach, board, Case Ootes, city, community, homes, housing, Hubbard, Kris Scheuer, properties, sell, TCHC, Toronto, Town Crier
Avid volunteer dedicated to East York community
(Written for Town Crier
L-R: Last year's winner Bill Pashby congratulates 2011 winner John Carter. Photo courtesy City of Toronto.
As one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Agnes Macphail Award and ceremony, John Carter did what he has done every year since the dinner began: He showed up early to help set up a display.
This year he had another task to complete: receiving the award himself.
His demonstrated dedication is what led the awards committee to name Carter the 2011 recipient of the Agnes Macphail Award, bestowed annually on a member of the community who has made positive contributions to the East York community.
“I’m quite excited about it,” he said hours before the dinner. “There were 18 others who won it before and I’m part of that illustrious group.”
In the 1990s, Carter was one of the forces who pushed the former East York city council to honour Macphail, Canada’s first female federal politician.
Carter has also been one of the leading advocates pushing to have the Leaside home where Macphail lived at 2 Donegall Dr. preserved as a heritage site.
And he successfully pushed for a park at Pape and Mortimer avenues, to be named after Macphail.
Mayor’s decision to axe Sheppard, Finch LRTs will cost
City agreed to reimburse Metrolinx for cash spent already
(Written for Town Crier April 1.)
All aboard: Mayor Rob Ford gives the thumbs up with Premier Dalton McGuinty before making a joint transit announcement March 31. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
The city taxpayers are on the hook for at least $49 million now that the Ontario government and Metrolinx agreed to cancel two previously approved light rapid transit lines for Sheppard and Finch.
Early in his term Mayor Rob Ford announced the Transit City plan for four surface LRT lines on Sheppard, Finch, Eglinton and in Scarborough was dead. His office spent four months negotiating with the province and Metrolinx to spend the allotted $8.4 billion on making the Eglinton LRT underground and converting the Scarborough RT to a surface LRT.
He also sought permission for the city to look for $4.2 billion in private sector funding for a new Sheppard subway.
That deal, announced March 31, included a provision that the city pay Metrolinx back for any costs associated with canceling the previously approved projects. The bill to the city will be at least $49 million, Metrolinx confirmed to the Town Crier on April 1.
“At this time we estimate there are $49 million in sunk costs mostly for work on the environmental assessments, designs or engineering and project management for Finch LRT and Sheppard LRT,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Thomas. “The $49 million (is) for costs we already accrued.
Mayor Rob Ford announced he will seek $4.2 billion in private sector cash to build a new Sheppard subway line. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged $49, cancel, costs, Eglinton, Finch, Joe Mihevc, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor, Metrolinx, million, Rob Ford, Scarborough, Sheppard, subway, taxpayers, Town Crier
Ontario to pony up $8B for Scarborough, Eglinton LRTs
City to seek $4B private cash for Sheppard subway
T.O taxpayers on hook for $49 mil spent on canceled routes
(Written for Town Crier March 31.)
Subway prototype on display at Wilson TTC yard during March 31 transit announcement. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
Get ready Toronto for $12 billion worth of transit including a Sheppard subway, Eglinton LRT and the Scarborough LRT.
Mayor Rob Ford and Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the investment at a press conference from the Wilson TTC yards in front of brand new subways prototypes.
“This is a great day for taxpayers of Toronto,” Ford said. “They want rapid transit to get to work faster and to get home to their families.
“Our new plan will provide a truly rapid transit system.”
McGuinty confirmed that the province, through Metrolinx, would invest up to $8.4 million to build a 25 kilometre, 26 stop LRT line from Black Creek Drive to Kennedy station and north to Scarborough City Centre and to replace the existing Scarborough RT with an LRT.
The premier, mayor, the ministry of transportation and provincial agency-Metrolinx have worked tirelessly to work out a deal over the past four months that would meet the needs of all sides.
“Our provincial priority was the Eglinton line,” said Transportation Minister and Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne. “We wanted to minimize delay, we wanted to get the Presto card implemented and we had said there was no more money.”
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged $8 billion, announcement, billion, Dalton McGuinty, Eglinton, Joe Miehvc, Kathleen Wynne, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor, Rob Ford, Scarborough, Sheppard, subways, Town Crier, Transit
City and province to make joint transit announcement
It’ll include Ford’s privately-funded Sheppard subway plan
Plus provincial cash for Eglinton and Scarborough LRTs
(Written for Town Crier March 30. March 31 UPDATE.)
Mayor Rob Ford's plan includes $4 billion in private sector cash to build a Sheppard subway. Town Crier file photo.
The city and province are both climbing aboard a new transportation deal that will be unveiled tomorrow morning.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed on March 30 that the provincial government, its transportation agency Metrolinx and the city are moving full steam ahead with the plan outlined by Mayor Rob Ford.
“We have an agreement that will see major transit expansion in the City of Toronto,” Stintz told the media at an impromptu press conference this afternoon. “It is a real win for both the city and the province and I am really excited about the announcement tomorrow.”
That announcement to take place at the TTC’s Wilson yards at 9 a.m. on March 31 will be to confirm the province is still committed to its original investment of about $8.4 billion.
The provincial cash will be spent on a fully underground and expanded Eglinton LRT and to turn the Scarborough RT into an above ground light rail transit route.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged announcement, cash, city, Eglinton, Karen Stintz, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor Rob Ford, plan, private, province, Scarborough, Sheppard, subway, Town Crier, Transit, transportation, TTC
City staff to report this spring on action on castle’s future
Recommendations will focus on Kiwanis current contract
Possible someone else could manage Casa Loma for city
(Written for the Town Crier March 30.)
Casa Loma. Town Crier file photo.
Will the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma be allowed to continue to run the city-owned icon or will someone else be given keys to the famous castle?
Last July 7, council voted to take steps to terminate the club’s management agreement if a handful of conditions were not met in writing by the end of the month.
Now it’s eight months later and the city’s deadline has come and gone. However, the Town Crier has learned the city and the club have been meeting and city staff will be producing a progress report and recommendations that will come to the city’s Executive Committee in April or May.
“We are working with Kiwanis regarding Casa Loma,” said Michael Williams general manager of Economic Development and Culture, who council charged with creating a dispute resolution process between the two parties.
This progress report will also contain recommendations on what action city council should take regarding its current contract with Kiwanis, which has run the castle since 1937.
Kiwanis’s 2008-signed contract includes an agreement which would see the club fix up the castle’s interior while the city would spend millions on repairing the exterior. But according to last year’s report, Kiwanis has missed a number of agreed upon deadlines.
The city voted to have Kiwanis report back by the end of September 2010 with a financial plan to meet its contract obligations. The city also instructed the deputy city manager’s office to conduct an audit of Casa Loma’s operations and finances.
Posted in Toronto culture
Tagged agreement, board, Casa Loma, chair, contract, council, Joe Mihevc, Kiwanis, Kris Scheuer, Michael, repairs, report, Richard, Toronto, Town Crier, Williams, Wozenilek
Sites on Toronto heritage backlog list waiting for reports
(Written March 22 for Town Crier.)
Lawrence Park resident Alex Genzebach wants area homes preserved as heritage sites. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
A hundred years ago Lawrence Park was a garden suburb built on farmland.
Toronto’s population at the time: 376,538.
The fifth home to be built here back in 1910 was a dark red brick house at 110 Dawlish Avenue. On Jan. 11, 1911 Edith Spohn moved in to this home with her husband Julian Sale, whose family ran a leather goods store on King Street West. They had a gas stove but no electricity or paved roads.
Spohn and Sale’s home is one worth preserving, area residents say.
There’s currently a push to add this home, plus five others in Lawrence Park, to the city’s heritage property list.
Problem is, there are about 100 properties waiting for reports from an already-taxed Heritage Preservation staff and the historic Lawrence Park homes are only six among them.
City heritage staffer Bruce Hawkins says it’s hard to know exactly how long it’ll take for heritage reports on the six nominated Lawrence Park homes as there could be other properties higher in the queue.
After months of deferrals, community council makes no ruling
Condo proposal will go to city council then OMB
(Written for Town Crier March 23. UPDATE.)
Artist rendering of Kippendavie proposal.
Despite months of deferrals and a six hour debate, Toronto and East York Community Council still didn’t make a decision on a controversial condo proposal at 66 to 76 Kippendavie Avenue. It voted instead to refer the issue to city council without recommendation.
Leading up to the vote, it was unclear what would happen as council members had differing views on the project. Chair Gord Perks wanted to take city staff’s advice and approve the 65 unit project while Beach rep Mary-Margaret McMahon recommended rejecting it.
In the end, the body followed Councillor Janet Davis’s advice to punt the ball to April 12 city council meeting. But time is not on the city’s side as an Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the project has been scheduled for April 19.
Following the advice of councillors Pam McConnell and Paula Fletcher the city will hire a third party mediator to work on reaching a settlement on the outstanding issues between the residents and the developer, including reducing the unit count to 54 and requiring $10 million in insurance to cover any impacts on adjacent homes during construction, before council meets. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged Beaches, condos, decision, development, Kippendavie, Kris Scheuer, OMB, sewage, storm, Toronto, Town Crier, water