TTC Meeting Wrapup for December 15, 2010

[My apologies for the lateness of this post.  The last few days have seen a number of distractions and conflicts with blogging in my life, and I am just getting back to it “full time” now.]

The Commission meeting began with two unusual events.  One was a “motion without notice” by newly-minted Commissioner Palacio proposing that the Commission ask Queen’s Park to give the TTC “essential service” status.  (This was a procedural device requiring a 2/3 majority to permit for an “urgent” situation, although with the current Commission makeup, that sort of majority is easy to attain.)  After a brief debate and with only Commissioner Augimeri (the token non-Ford supporter on the Commission) opposed, the motion passed.  The “urgency” was caused by this item’s being up for debate on Council’s agenda for the following day based on a similar motion at Executive Committee earlier in the week.  I have commented on this issue separately.

The other event was an inaugural address by the new Chair, Karen Stintz.  (See Chair Stintz’ blog and scroll down to “My Priorities as TTC Chair”.)  There are four main aims, none of which is worked out in much detail.

  • Sharpen the client focus.  A troubling note here is that “clients” is read to include “funders”, and getting value for money is considered a matter of customer satisfaction.  I agree, although probably not as Chair Stintz would like, from the point of view that money well managed and spent can give us more and better service.  This runs headlong into the next point …
  • Realign transit expansion plans.  Chair Stintz takes the Ford party line that voters want underground transit, although she also wants to stay in line with the regional view of Metrolinx and the funding of state of good repair projects.  Voters may want underground transit, but whether we can afford it or need it in the larger context is quite another matter.
  • Invest every dollar wisely.  If I comment on this, I will start to repeat myself.
  • Embrace new ways of doing business.  This point is rather vague and the only concrete proposal is a change in the Commission’s composition.  The real problem, as we have discussed at length on this site before, is the question of who would be “qualified” and “appropriate” to sit on the TTC board, what their agendas might be, and which masters they really served.

I wish Chair Stintz well in a very difficult role in difficult times.  The TTC and the transit system is a large, complex organization, and its effect on the City of Toronto is greater and more long-lasting than most other agencies Councillors direct.  Collisions between being “pro transit” and being part of “Team Ford” are likely to come as soon as the 2011 budget process, and certainly as Council begins to look at planning for 2012 and beyond.

Union Station Second Platform & Concourse Improvements

This report, authorizing a contract for the construction work on this project, was approved, but not until after considerable questioning by Commissioner Minnan-Wong who is greatly perturbed by the increasing cost of the project.  How did it get from $90-million to $137m (not including work funded from various TTC facility improvement lines in the Capital Budget), and who was paying for the added cost?

The project is funded primarily by Waterfront Toronto which, in turn, has a nest egg contributed by the City, Queen’s Park and Ottawa in equal measure.  WFT agreed to fund the increased cost, and the money was redirected from the cancelled Front Street Extension project.  The cost increase comes mainly from changes in the design to accommodate the City’s own Union Station project as well as the complexity of rebuilding a major subway station while it remains in operation.

The project gets underway in January 2011.

Ashbridge’s Bay Maintenance Facility

This topic was the subject of several deputations by members of the Community and by area Councillors, as well as some debate among the Commissioners.  The primary issues raised were:

  • Why was the cost of site preparation not included in the original project budget?
  • Are there other properties owned by the TTC or by City agencies that could be used either in place of the proposed Ashbridge’s Bay site, or that could allow the TTC to shuffle existing uses among sites to free up space for the new streetcar yard elsewhere?
  • Is the land that would be used for the new facility needed for future expansion of the sewage treatment plant next door?

A few points are worth noting.

  • Any change in site would require a new Transit Project Assessment that would take the better part of a year to complete.
  • A site in New Toronto owned by the City’s agency Build Toronto was previously rejected by the TTC as being too small, although at 24 acres it exceeds the property requirements for a new facility.  The real issue here may be that Build Toronto hopes to reap $50-million from the site, considerably more than they would be paid, if anything, by the TTC.
  • The Lever site south of Eastern Avenue near Broadview was previously rejected for being partly unavailable, but that condition no longer applies.
  • The need for expanding the sewage treatment plant had been ruled out during the study for the Ashbridge’s Bay site, but in any event would require taking of the existing open space and berm which some local residents are defending against the TTC project.
  • The scope of work planned for existing carhouses keeps changing.  For example, a proposed expansion of Russell Carhouse to be used as a temporary facility for work on the prototype streetcars, and later as a major collision repair shops, has been dropped.  This work will now be done at Hillcrest in the bays used for maintaining the articulated streetcars (ALRVs).

TTC management will report back on these issues early in 2011.

Again, the question of project budgeting came up.  There is a still unsettled battle between TTC and City finance staff about whether the TTC can spend money on a project whose scope and cost have changed without first obtaining Council approval.  Because the TTC board delayed action on awarding this contract, the issue has not yet come to a head, but may do as part of the 2011 budget process.  A revised project scope for this facility will be included in the overall Capital Budget and this may, or may not, attract attention.  As I understand current Council policy, only if the revised scope is approved by Council through an updated budget would the TTC actually have the authority to proceed.

New Overhead Facility Lease

As I mentioned in the preview of this meeting’s agenda, management recommended that the Commission relocate its overhead maintenance crew to new quarters to be leased for five years.  This will allow for expansion of the crew to undertake major reconstruction of the streetcar overhead infrastructure.

This report was approved without comment.

Post Secondary Student Metropasses

A large crowd of students demonstrated on Nathan Phillips Square before the TTC meeting, and they moved into the Committee Room to support speakers on this issue.

The Commission decided that students in Private Career Colleges who have full time programs (defined as 20 or more hours/week) would be eligible for student metropass pricing.  This will come into effect probably for February 2011.  Other groups, notably students at Community Colleges, will be the subject of a separate report early in the new year.

Most interesting about this issue was the fact that the Commission made no attempt to dismiss the request on the grounds of budget constraints or equity with other riders.  This particular room full of students got an uncharacteristically warm reception from an agency whose usual response to requests for subsidies is “go elsewhere”.  The Commission (partly in their other role as Councillors) is spending the “surplus” in the TTC budget even though this may not last into 2011.  The presence of a well-known former politician as the legal counsel government relations consultant for the Ontario Association of Career Colleges may have had something to do with the success of this student appeal.

Transit Service Variety Village

After an impassioned deputation by Councillor Crawford, one of the new faces at City Council, and a staff presentation outlining the problems involved and the options available to serve Variety Village, the Commission decided to go forward with a staff proposal to increase the hours of service on the Variety Village Community Link bus so that instead of ending at 7:00 pm, the service will run until 10:00 pm.  Moreover, the frequency will be improved from hourly to half-hourly.  Both changes take effect in January 2011.

Unknown to most would-be riders, this service is available to any transit rider, not just to Wheel Trans users.  The combination of longer hours and better service are expected to improve riding on this route.  A report on the success of the improved service and on alternative ways to serve Variety Village will come forward no later than June 2011 with the intention that any changes would be implemented in September.

26 thoughts on “TTC Meeting Wrapup for December 15, 2010

  1. I have two things to mention about this commission meeting. The first thing is the proposal to expand the shuttle bus service to Variety Village that councillor Gary Crawford mentioned. The shuttle bus is great for helping the elderly and disabled but I think councillor Crawford should read the old document callled “Transit City Bus Plan” and really push for the one item in that report that said to create a new bus route that would leave VP Station and travel east on Danforth Ave., servicing Variety Village, and travel further along Kingston Rd giving Cliffside Village much better transit service because part of this route would overlap with the existing 12 bus on Kingston Rd at Cliffside Village.

    The other item I want to mention is this quote: “Chair Stintz takes the Ford party line that voters want underground transit, although she also wants to stay in line with the regional view of Metrolinx and the funding of state of good repair projects.” I hope that when she said “State of Good Repair Projects” that that includes the Station Modernization Program; I have two children, one just out of a stroller and not the steadiest on stairs and my younger child still in a stroller and I really appreciate how accessible VP Station is getting with the bus platform at one level. I hope that Warden Station gets similar treatment because I use that Station almost as much as VP Station and I really empathize with those of limited mobility having better access to Toronto’s transit system that the Station Modernization Program is helping provide.

    Steve: During the discussion of alternative routes to VV and where they might connect to the subway, there was a comment made that Warden Station isn’t likely to become accessible until after 2020 as this is tied in with a proposed redevelopment of the property.


  2. OK, you’ve got me, I give up. Who is the “…well-known former politician as the legal counsel for the Ontario Association of Career Colleges…”?

    And why does this person have such massive clout that he can get millions of dollars in public spending out of a Ford regime that is explicitly opposed to it?


  3. Having worked in the employment and training non-profit sector for a decade, I’d say the estimated number of 70,000 eligible students involved with private career colleges will be found to be low. Thankfully, about 10-20% will already be covered by Ontario Works transit money. However, the amount of money spent in the direct subsidy is not the whole story here.

    The vast majority of these students are taking 6-18 week courses. Unlike universities and community colleges, the starting dates for these courses are throughout the year. At what point will people be cut off from accessing the subsidised passes? I hope the passes will be sold to the colleges for them to distribute.

    Also, there is no infrastructure in place to get these people photo-ID. Most of these colleges do not use an ID system. Are they all going to traipse down to Sherbourne? Many of these colleges run on shoe-string administration budgets. I seriously doubt they are going to put up money to facilitate these passes when there is no profit in it for them.

    The timing of all of this leads me to believe the Ford administration was lobbied on this subject prior to the election and chose not to discuss this issue because of how un-conservative it is.

    Steve: The TTC is looking at expanding the number of photo units, although I am not sure how they see this sort of operation working on a permanent basis given the turnover in the student population.


  4. Regarding the approved five year lease of new quarters to accommodate an expanded crew for streetcar overhead infrastructure replacement: can we take this as a generally positive sign that the legacy streetcar network is safe? I don’t imagine this being approved if plans were imminent to start decommissioning streetcar routes.

    Steve: I’m not sure. When I see major projects left intact in the Capital Budget that continue the rebuilding of the system, especially the construction of a new carhouse, wherever it is, I will feel a bit more secure about this issue.


  5. @Kevin Love: It’s the Speaker’s brother, who also ran for mayor “against” (term used loosely as there was no incumbent) David Miller in the 2003 election.


  6. Hi Steve, Thanks for writing about the post-secondary student metropass issue. I just wanted to clarify a few points.

    The former politician present with our deputation was not our legal counsel. That was recorded incorrectly in the deputation listing; he is our government relations consultant working on a variety of issues including this one. Since January of 2010, our organization has been working with the TTC, requesting clarification on who would be eligible – on behalf of 15,000 full-time students in Toronto. On September 30 we presented a deputation to the last TTC commission, who asked TTC staff to report back on costs. The costs reported back were for the addition of our 15,000 full-time (20+hrs a week) students and 70,000 certificate students at public colleges (such as students taking a 4-5 hr a week course). Out of the estimated $2.5 million the staff reported in costs, private career college students would only account for $500,000. We have spent months working with TTC commissioners and our consultant along with our VP met with almost all the commissioners prior to the meeting. Clout has nothing to do with it; it all came down to giving the commissioners the correct information to make an informed decision about the unfair exclusion of thousands of full-time post-secondary students from a post-secondary student metropass.

    Our students don’t have a federation to fight for them, and not every PCC in the city of Toronto is part of our membership but we took it upon us to fight for all PCC students, whether their colleges are members or not of our association. Our students came up with the catchy slogan they chanted before the meeting “Be Fair With The Fare.” I believe the deputations by our students made the difference – instead of talking about millions of dollars and the surplus they spoke to the monthly savings and what it meant to them, from buying extra food for their family to being able to afford textbooks.

    If you wish to know more about the lead up to the decision or the private career college sector, feel free to contact me.

    Steve: Thanks for the clarification and the update. Getting correct information to the Commission is vital, although they don’t always want to hear what outsiders say. As for “clout”, I think every effective lobbyist is chosen at least partly for their connections to those in power. It helps in getting a hearing for your case. The amount of preliminary work you did before the meeting is at a level not enjoyed by many who come before the Commission.

    My concern here is more that there is an inequity and inconsistency in the way the Commission deals with community issues and this depends on who champions each cause. I don’t disagree with the principle of the fare you have obtained for your full time students, only with the ad hoc way in which the whole matter of post-secondary fares and requests for discounts for other low income groups is handled.

    I will correct the citation for your consultant in the main article.


  7. Has the TTC abandoned the RFP for an open payment fare system? I thought a decision was going to be made at this Commission meeting.

    Steve: The cutoff date for responses to the RFP was extended to the end of January.


  8. I’m perturbed at the Motion without Notice part of things – and how we/Ford may be trying to change things without any public inputs/deputations. It can be hard enough to track these issues as a mere “shitizen” – and thanks very much Steve for pouring yourself into all of this so extensively and continuously – and it is harder to be able to adjust a schedule for inputs when major changes are sought without notice. Perhaps the province will be more receptive to public inputs…or other Councillors than the Fordites. Meanwhile, this is a GREAT! cartoon by Brett Lamb.


  9. Maybe what the TTC should do in the mean time with the current Variety Village service from Main Street station is give it a number in the 400 range (such as 406). This way it would be listed in the main route list on the website instead of some obscure corner of the Wheel Trans section.


  10. Hamish Wilson: your cartoon link doesn’t explain the whole story. This is about the ability for one to choose how they get around this city. The reason why so many people talk about the “war on cars” is because of rules that effectively attempt to punish people who must drive without providing so much as an alternative or adequate incentive for people to take transit. In fact, the TTC TOOK AWAY one of its most valuable incentives for people to take the TTC and that was the elimination of Metropass parking. Such actions marginalize this portion of the TTC clientele and is one of the factors of why Rob Ford is now our mayor. Not once anyone ever consulted the car driver on what to do to relieve this stress on our transportation infrastructure. Not once anyone offered any solution to placate drivers who need their cars to get around.

    We want to be able to choose how we want to get around and not have people tell us what to do and then have to pay more for substandard service. Speaking of paying for it, motorists would rather pay through the nose for gas rather than pay through the nose for metropass parking. At least they would not have to deal with the horrid service that appears to be the hallmark of the TTC.

    I don’t agree with the present administration’s plans to cancel Transit city (from a financial standpoint, Ford’s decisions do not make sense). However, there is a movement to get Ford to reinstate Metropass parking and it would assist in making it easier for people to leave their cars at a TTC station rather than slog it all the way to their destination. Hopefully Council will pass this motion at the first opportunity.

    Steve: The issue with Metropass parking turns on whether the TTC should be providing parking at all. The proportion of riders who use parking spaces is miniscule, and provision of parking constitutes a cross-subsidy of them by other riders. In some locations, the land is pretty much sitting there as a side effect of subway construction, but in others, it has to be acquired and configured for parking. An even worse case scenario would be a parking structure where the cost of one space considerably exceeds the value of the car sitting there. My feeling about free parking at TTC stations is that it is a frill for a small minority of system users, and that this is often a waste of land that could be more productively developed as an alternative source of transit riding.


  11. This is a very dangerous threat to democracy – present a Motion without Notice! How many items can be rammed through the TTC meetings or even City Council at the last minute. As much as the Fordites decried Miller for ramming his agenda through, David Miller never used a Motion without Notice. This is a form of dictatorship – last minute motion, no public input, rushed vote from a group stacked by the same people who present the motion! Toronto has just become a “banana republic”!

    Steve: There is a mechanism for motions to be deemed “urgent” and therefore to be considered without notice. The real question will be how often it is used, or abused.


  12. No transportation is truly free, be it car parking, bike lanes, or sidewalks. I sympathise with people who can’t use transit because of how difficult it is to get around in the inner suburbs. But reinstating free parking, when there is musing of a far increase, simply transfers the cost of the parking space from the car user to the rest of us, and I for one believe I’m subsidising car driving in this city enough already.

    If motorists paid the same percentage of the road maintenance and operating budget as TTC users pay for their system, we’d have the smoothest roads in the world. Is $5 a day too much to ask, when the real cost is most likely 7?


  13. Does the TTC have statistics on parking lot usage before and after they eliminated free parking?

    From what I’ve heard it’s still difficult to find a parking spot at most stations; if 1000 cars parked there before and 1000 cars park there now, then arguments about disincentives are spurious at best.

    In a free market, those parking spots would be charged their full market value, which is the point at which utilization does start to drop off to the point that someone showing up at 9:30 has a chance of finding a spot. I suspect that the point this occurs at is about when taking the TTC vs driving downtown becomes a cost-neutral decision, convenience-only decision; ie $12-15 for the spot. As long as the parking lots are still full, milk motorists for what they’re worth.

    Steve: In August 2009, TTC management reported that contrary to expectations, Metropass sales did not decline when free parking was eliminated. In fact pass sales continued to grow to the extent that the average fare was below budget. Meanwhile, parking revenue was projected to be about $400k under budget for 2009 due to lower than expected utilization of the paid space. It’s worth noting that a further $382k had been approved by the Commission in 2009 as an unbudgeted cost to improve security at parking lots.

    By the time that third quarter results were reported, parking revenues didn’t even warrant mention as the effect of the civic workers’ strike was much more severe than the small loss of parking revenue.


  14. Stephen, your whining — I use the word advisedly — just leaves me annoyed, and I don’t think I’m the only one.

    Perhaps you should start by making a case for why there should be free parking at subway stations. I happen to think that there shouldn’t be free parking at subway stations, and that GO should make their parking lots all-pay and redevelop those in more urban locations (such as Long Branch and Mimico). Proceeds could go to making the stations accessible.

    You keep telling us how much better life is up in Vaughan, where you live to “save money”. Alas, your saved money is illusory, because instead of walking to the streetcar or subway, you must drive. And then you must pay for the car, the gas, the insurance, and the parking. And then you complain that you’re being denied the “choice” that you made when you decided to move to Vaughan to save money, because it turns out there are plenty of hidden costs.

    And as a resident of Vaughan, your phrase “Rob Ford is our mayor” is rich. I do wish it was true — I’d *love* if Rob Ford was mayor of Vaughan and not Toronto.


  15. Two points:

    1-Parking should not be free for a cheap transit service like the TTC. Market rates, or close to it, should apply. That means most parking lost outside of the downtown core would still be very cheap, e.g $3 to $6 range, not the $10 to $15 that some have talked about. Conversely, for a premium fare service (like GO Transit) I would expect parking at the suburban lots to be free or discounted.

    2-Parking for transit is essential. Don’t tell me I am going to walk a kilometre in the rain to wait for a bus/streecar/LRT or even to hop into a subway station if I am carrying loads of grocery bags or taking kids with me to see a movie. Not going to happen and if the parking requires me to pay a reasonable fee (see note) above so be it. By the way there is parking at the outer Tube and rail stations in London and the lots are generally full.


  16. Ed: *laughs* I consider Rob Ford to be the Mayor of GTA for every city to follow. His policies are what will determine the future of the city and I’m sure it will be a model for all GTA cities to use.

    The issue here is that people would rather make the choice to be as independent as possible. If they want to get around in the easiest way possible, they will and will consider the higher cost if the benefits outweigh the costs. For most people who drive, as long as the cost is manageable, they will suck up the high cost of gas, insurance, and parking. What I’m against is the notion that we need to “milk the car drivers out of everything to force them to take transit”. On a transit system which is woefully inadequate for the needs of the GTA. This is not how we should be running the city. Either the infrastructure is present to allow for more choice to take transit, or the incentive option is there. And we have neither.

    I will also point out that not everyone can move to Downtown Toronto. Especially those in the Toronto Suburbs, for those, the commute can take a staggering 1.5 hours by bus/subway/whatever.

    “No transportation is truly free, be it car parking, bike lanes, or sidewalks. I sympathize with people who can’t use transit because of how difficult it is to get around in the inner suburbs. But reinstating free parking, when there is musing of a far increase, simply transfers the cost of the parking space from the car user to the rest of us, and I for one believe I’m subsidising car driving in this city enough already.”

    Most car drivers would probably say the same thing about the disappearance of usable driving space converted to pedestrian or bike use. The whole point is that everybody pays for something that someone else uses. Car drivers would probably say the same thing about their portion of their property taxes going to the TTC which is something that they would never use. I don’t endorse that statement, but the whole point is that the argument cuts both ways.

    I’ll also remind you that my experience with using TTC parking is that almost all cars were not driven by individual drivers, but by carpools, and this includes vans of 7 people pulling into the Kipling station. You may think that users of parking lots are in the minority, but they are far larger than you think.


  17. Sean: From my point of view, I don’t consider the TTC to be a cheap service. If it was, fares would be less than 2 dollars (1.50 per token) and a metropass would probably cost around $60. As it is, as a former everyday TTC user, I consider the TTC to be a lot of money. I’m not from a well-to-do background (contrary to some other people’s opinions) and, despite being able to own a house, have to worry about every bill that comes in to be paid. So for most people, the TTC is indeed a very expensive expense. Even a $3/day parking surcharge does add up. Okay, if the TTC were to slash fares in half, literally, then maybe I can live with a $3/day surcharge. As it stands, parking rates in subway parking lots are expensive enough as it is at present. (Islington lot charging as much as $7 and charging during evenings and weekends? Why?)


  18. Average occupancy of cars parking in TTC lots is about 1.3 persons per car. Ridership from parking lots makes up about 2% of total daily system ridership.

    As to the argument that it is unfair to remove road space from cars without already having an excellent and comparable transit alternative in place, that is an unrealistic expectation that is designed solely to allow car drivers to rationalize why they never take transit and to self-righteously designate themselves as victims of the “war on the car.” That kind of skewed rationalizing is how we got to the current, unaffordable policy of “underground transit” only.

    Rebalancing and reallocating the limited public right-of-ways so that other taxpayers have equal access to them is, of course, opposed by motorists who seem to feel that that public space is theirs alone. But who really is not being fair here, and who is standing in the way of increasing people’s transportation choices? It’s not like there are unlimited opportunities to widen roads and sidewalks, so how else do you actually improve the transit system if you don’t give it some priority on the roads — priority that the car has enjoyed for the last 50 years?

    It sounds good to demand that the transit alternative be in place before taking anything away from motorists, but how exactly do you do that without restricting the options to building only expensive underground or elevated transit lines that don’t get in the way of cars?


  19. “What I’m against is the notion that we need to “milk the car drivers out of everything to force them to take transit”.”

    What kind of an argument is that? We’re “forcing” drivers onto transit by charging them to park at transit facilities? Come on, that doesn’t even make sense.

    “The issue here is that people would rather make the choice to be as independent as possible. If they want to get around in the easiest way possible, they will and will consider the higher cost if the benefits outweigh the costs. For most people who drive, as long as the cost is manageable, they will suck up the high cost of gas, insurance, and parking. “

    So suck it up, take the easy way, and drive downtown. Skip transit, save the onerous TTC parking lot fee! Fine with me — the subway is already overcrowded. Why do you continue to whine about the cost of parking at the subway station again?

    “I will also point out that not everyone can move to Downtown Toronto. Especially those in the Toronto Suburbs, for those, the commute can take a staggering 1.5 hours by bus/subway/whatever.”

    So? Free parking at subway stations will solve long commutes in the suburbs?


  20. Parking rates for Islington are:

    Main Lot:
    $5.00 per day 5am – 3pm
    free after 3pm weekdays, all day weekends and holidays
    543 spaces

    Cordova Lot:
    $5.00 per day 5am – 2am
    473 spaces

    Lomond Lot:
    $7.00 per day 5am – 3pm
    $4.00 per day 3pm – 2am
    283 SPACES

    Fieldway Lot:
    Weekday Rate $3.00 per day 5am – 3pm
    $2.00 per day 3pm – 2am
    Weekends and holidays $2.00 per day 5am – 2am

    Islington is the only station that I can find that has this complex fee structure.

    Kipling is straight forward with the same rate applying to all three lots: $5.00 per day (weekdays) 5am – 3pm. Free after 3pm daily, all day weekends and holidays.

    There is no reason given for Islington on the TTC website; and not being familiar with the west end of the city (being an “east-ender”), I won’t even hazard a guess for this.

    In my opinion, however, most of these parking lots sit on prime real estate and should be redeveloped to intensify the area around the subway stations. Parking could (and should) be turned over to “Green- P” who could build parking structures and offer a discounted rate for Metropass holders. If Transit City had proceeded as planned, the commuter parking could have been developed farther out from the centre of the city to serve the “905” commuters. There is tremendous potential for this concept in northeast Scarborough along the Finch hydro corridor where a LRT system could span the entire northern part of Toronto. It could go north from Scarborough Centre along McCowan to McNicoll, go along the the hydro ROW to Finch station (connecting with GO’s Old Cummer station), continue west to just west of Hwy 400 where it starts to slope southwest to Kipling Ave. where it could go underground (like the Eglinton LRT) to connect with Kipling station. There is tremendous potential with this route to provide excellent parking for “905”ers like you Stephen!


  21. Just checked out the TTC Website and it looks like they assigned route numbers to the Variety Village Link (406) and Rehab Cardiac Centre Community Link (407). Although, they haven’t added them to the overall route list yet, they are still hidden in the Wheel Trans section. However, there is a link to the Variety Village link from the home page currently.


  22. Islington’s more complex parking rates reflect the characteristics of how those lots are used. Both the Cordova and Lomond lots tend to get used a lot by folks not using transit i.e. they use the Lomond lot to avoid the higher cost to park underground in the Sun Life Centre (I think that’s what it’s called now??) on the NE corner of Bloor and Islington, and for visitors to the apartment complexes on Mabelle Ave. and the shops in Islington Village, the Cordova lot is a convenient overflow. Fieldway is cheaper, I would imagine, because of its longer walking distance to the subway.

    The Main lot at Islington was supposed to be redeveloped as part of the aborted Lavalin development, and I would imagine it is still available, but developers aren’t exactly lining up. Not sure about Lomond and Cordova. The Kipling lots are not really redevelopment opportunities because most of them are within Hydro corridors and there are significant height restrictions because of the hydro lines.


  23. Thanks for posting this Steve. I’ve looked, but I can’t seem to find any minutes for this meeting at the TTC or City website. Am I looking in the wrong places, or are they not posted yet – and if not, why not?

    Steve: The minutes are not posted until just before the next Commission meeting. Officially, this is planned for February, but there are rumours of a January 12 meeting to deal with matters like service cuts and, probably, budgets. The minutes are not “official” until the Commission approves them.

    There is a short digest of major issues put out by TTC media relations (you can get on this list simply by asking — the contact info is on the news page) — although it is short on details of the “colour” of the meeting, the banter among those present, and the smaller issues. That’s why I write my own wrapups with more of the spice, more of the sense of what was really happening.

    Secondly, I can’t find the Karen Stintz blog you mentioned: “My Priorities as TTC Chair”. Could I beg your indulgence for a bit more direction?

    Steve: It is on Just scroll down to the second item.

    Thirdly – re: the Ashbridges site – if the berm and 200+ trees have to go (which I am firmly against in terms of the loss of greenspace), the ONLY consideration thus far which would make me change my stance is if the space was used to expand the ABTP, which was the original purpose if I understand correctly. And I’d warrant expansion will be needed: from time to time the stench from that plant is unbearable. From years of habit my husband and I crack our windows everytime we’re exiting the Gardiner and sniff the air so that we can hit the “recirculate air” button before the stench fills the car and makes your eyes water; on those days I feel great sympathy for the residents who live nearby. The last thing they need is no “smell” abatement PLUS 200+ streetcars 30′ from their bedroom windows. I imagine it would have been kinder to expropriate them, because I can’t see how on earth they’d be able to sell after that.

    I’m not entirely convinced the berm would require removal either – they managed to significantly expand the R.C. Harris Water treatment plant and did almost all of the work underground with almost no disruption to the community. On top of that they removed the soil via barge so that the trucks wouldn’t clog up Queen St. – not to mention the 501 loop. I’ll never know why Ms. Bussin didn’t campaign on that – it was about the only good thing that ever happened on her watch – and it was pretty successful all round, at least from a near-by resident’s POV. Perhaps it wasn’t her idea. Whoever’s idea it was should be put up for an award for design/project of the century. If we had people at the TTC who could plan and implement like that, this city would be an entirely more liveable and enjoyable place.


  24. Thanks for the update. Re: Karen Stintz’ blog – my browser doesn’t display anything on her home page – I’ll need to fiddle with settings. However, I did find this onUrbanToronto 2006 which I thought you might find interesting.

    Steve: The problem is on Stintz’ site, where the page contains a pile of stuff that has been copied into the main page directly from MS Word. Explorer does not know what to do with it and chokes. Firefox does not have this problem.


  25. …And now she’s in charge of an organization that can’t ever get their ‘web act’ together. Four more lost years…


  26. Re: proposed streetcar barns, if homeowners are going to whine about being close to them, why not make the area nearby Low-Income housing?

    I for one would not mind living near streetcar barns, newer buildings would be nice, the building I currently live in, is 40+ years old, drafty as heck & nasty.

    Re: parking lots near Islington stn..

    I live near the Cordova lot. I tell my guests with cars to use it.


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