Weekend Newsbrief: January 13, 2019
What happened at Toronto City Hall this week
Toronto Transit News
Subway upload: NDP transportation critic Jessica Bell and the head of the transit union spoke out this week against the Ford-government subway upload. Carlos Santos, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, said in a statement this week, “Doug Ford’s upload scheme will open the door to privatization… Toronto would also lose its integrated public transit system and local democratic control.” The province’s plans for the subway network upload have not yet been released.
TTC board had first meeting of the term at city hall. Councillor Jaye Robinson, the TTC’s newest Chair, led her first meeting this week. She started the meeting by asking all board members to state why they’re “eager” to be part of the board. Read what some of them said in ‘Seen and Heard.’
PRESTO cards take over Metropass. December 2018 was the last month of the Metropass, the public transit payment card that’s been around since 1980. The new PRESTO card costs the same ($146.25 for adults and $116.75 for seniors/youth) and provides the same unlimited travel as a regular Metropass. The 12-month pass on PRESTO costs the same ($134 for adults and $107 for seniors/youths), requires the same 12-month commitment, provides the same monthly discount and unlimited travel as the Metropass Discount Plan (MDP).
Closing down collector booths. The TTC announced that Customer Service Agents at Yorkdale and Lawrence West TTC stations are the latest to move outside collector booths. Asked whether the reason for the change was to help the speed of user flow, spokesperson for the TTC, Hayley Waldman, said it’s more about providing better assistance. “Though this method may be marginally quicker in terms of ‘people traffic,’ our main focus is customer service.”
Rush hour stopping and distracted driving ticket blitz starts Monday
Toronto police are hoping an increase in traffic tickets will result traffic flow gains, but road warriors who don’t follow the rules should expect a little pain over the next couple of weeks. According to an announcement made by Mayor John Tory and Toronto police Superintendent Scott Baptist, drivers who text and drive, and drivers who stop along rush hour routes, have a higher chance of getting a ticket during January’s traffic ticket blitz
Baptist told reporters this week that changes in distracted driving laws now result in a ticket of $615, up from $490, $1000 and three demerit points for the first conviction, and could result in one’s licence being suspended for three, seven or 30 days by the ministry.
“If we’re going to get Toronto moving, it’s critical that we all follow the rules. Don’t stop or park in designated rush hour routes. As I stated, this will be zero tolerance. You won’t have one of our parking enforcement officers or police officer coming up behind you and giving you a friendly honk getting you to move along. You will be receiving a ticket. A ticket costs $150,” Baptist said. “Distracted driving is a conscious choice; a choice that must change.”
Asked about companies like Uber that pick up passengers at certain locations along rush hour routes, Tory said it doesn’t matter if you’re a taxi, an Uber, or a delivery truck. “The law is the law.”
Analysis: With ride sharing companies using technology that rely on entering an address on where the driver and rider meet, the city could also ask the ride-sharing company to pick up and drop off on streets not in a rush hour route.
Donation bin permit system under review
On Tuesday morning, a 35-year-old named Crystal Papineau was was found dead in a clothing donation bin. According to a report by the Toronto Star’s Emily Mathieu and Laurie Monsebraaten, Papineau had sourced clothing from donation bins previously. A television report by the CBC’s Ali Chiasson shows how anti-theft bars secured between the drop-box door and the inside flap would cause someone to be trapped.
An online piece by CBC’s Andrea Janus includes a video of Vancouver Fire Rescue’s Jonathan Gormick describing how the mechanism would cause someone to be trapped, “Because [the donation bin door] is high off the ground, somebody could get their body weight trapped in it, and if their weight shifted, it could rotate in such a way as to bind on them and them not have a way to free themselves… pushing backwards would only make it tighter.”
Mayor John Tory is asking the city to speed up the review that is currently underway, asking for it to focus on making sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again. (Read the story)
Analysis: Unless the city is willing the change the city’s current permit system, clothing donation boxes (similar to the one where a woman was found dead this week) can continue to exist under the municipality’s licensing regime. If the mayor and city councillors want to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again, they need to direct city staff to contact the donation box operators to make sure the anti-theft bars are removed.
Seen and heard: at the first TTC meeting, councillors share why they’re eager to be there
At the TTC’s first board meeting of the term, elected representatives shared the reason for their enthusiasm to be on the TTC board.
Chair Jaye Robinson: [I’m] very happy to be here … I thought it would be nice since it’s our very first meeting as well as there’s a number of new members on the TTC including myself just to go around the table and introduce ourselves… and a little bit about why you’re eager to be part of this commission.
Deputy-Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong: I think I’m the only councillor who’s been on this before and I’m here because I love it so much.
Councillor Jennifer McKelvie: I’ve very excited to be on this board because I take both GO train and TTC regularly.
Councillor Shelley Carroll: I’ve been a TTC commissioner for two years, and then I needed a two-year rest, and now I’m back again. I have been chosen to stare at the TTC budget since 2004 so I think I can help in that regard.
Councillor Brad Bradford: I’m here because I think that transit is about access to opportunity and I’m here to help build out the transit network, so very excited to work with all of you on that.
Councillor Jim Karygiannis: Two words, folks: Sheppard subway. I guess you’ve been warned, chair.
Good to know: downtown developments, cycling in Scarborough, and construction on York
University and Queen 54-storey build. The city is hosting a free public meeting on Monday evening about the redevelopment of 54-storey mixed-use building at 250 University Ave. (on the west side of University between Queen and Richmond). The plans include a proposal for 328 two-bedroom units, 87 three-bedroom units, and 80 one-bedroom units.
Time and Place: Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, 7p.m., 370 King St. West, Park Hyatt, King II Room
King and Peter six-story addition. The city is hosting a free public meeting on Monday evening about the construction of a six-storey addition on top of the existing five storey warehouse building, resulting in a new 11-storey building. According to a letter describing the architectural design, the plans for the addition are to provide a “distinct landmark” for the Queen and John corner.
Time and place: Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, 8 p.m., 370 King St. West, Park Hyatt, King II Room
PANEL Biking Beyond Downtown: Building Suburban Bike Culture
This event is part of the launch of a new report by The Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) about a three-year community bike hub project in Scarborough that led over 1,000 people on rides, repaired over 2,000 bicycles, and trained over 200 people in cycling – all in a suburban community with next to no bike lanes and only one bike shop.
The panel will be moderated by Shawn Micallef, and includes: Erica Duque (Region of Peel), Jared Kolb (Cycle Toronto), Trudy Ledsham (Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank), Marvin Macaraig (Scarborough Cycles Bike Hub Coordinator), Fionnuala Quinn (Bureau of Good Roads, Washington D.C.), Kristin Schwartz (Sustainable Communities), Michael Skaljin (Tower and Neighbourhood Revitalization Unit). There will be a presentation by TCAT Director Nancy Smith Lea.
Time and place: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. 6:30 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. panel, 5110 Yonge St. North York Memorial Community Hall
York St. construction. Downtown dweller? Prepare yourself for long-term construction on York St. between Bremner Blvd. and Lake Shore Blvd. This stretch will have a single lane in each direction for over a year but the result will include a path to Union Station. If you’re interested in learning more about what the project entails, please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org