Monday Musings of The Urban Daddy: Toronto Traffic SUCKS!


Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Have to drive anywhere in the City?  I did… It was not fun, and quite frustrating…

What the heck is going on in my City?

City Construction

This is the view from the stop light heading north from the downtown core.  The right lane, as you can see, is blocked.  The right lane has been blocked for a while, during the construction of this building, but the other northbound lane was closed so that stuff could be dropped off / picked up from the right lane.

It boggles my mind and makes me really angry that the City;

  1. Allows developers to take out an entire lane of traffic to help them with their construction for as long as they need to take.  The same annoyance is occurring at Bathurst Street, just south of St. Clair Avenue.
  2. Allow builders to build to the capacity where they cannot do so on their own space that they need to use City streets.
  3. With the addition of bike lanes, parking restrictions and general congestion, that this is even allowed to happen.

Yes, this rant is a real one, and comes from a resident of the City who pays taxes… Lots of taxes, and has to struggle to drive in the city because lanes are closed, construction is taking WAY too long, the Eglinton LRT is dragging along and the roads are AWFUL.

I’ve had 7 flat tires since the LRT construction has begun.

You want pot holes and shitty roads?

Forget the odd pothole that pops up here and there.  Try living around the LRT construction where your only access to the main streets are via roads which should have been torn up and paved over years ago.

In our area, for example, near Allen Road and Eglinton Avenue, the only ways out are Glen Cedar Road – which is an absolute disaster, or to the West, heading towards Oakwood, the roads are worse.

Where is the compensation coming from the developers for taking up our roads, so we can drive where we need to go?

Where is the compensation from the City for either picking terrible contractors, or for not doing their jobs and keeping our roads safe so I don’t have to keep repairing my tires from driving on these roads?  My dealership told me that if my car keeps driving on these roads for a couple more years, the car will be a write off.  The potholes, bumpy and buckling roads and vibrations from these horrid streets are shaking my car apart.

But hey, we’ve got bike lanes, one way streets, no cars on King Street and the Gardiner is falling apart.

Toronto City Council really messed this up… Big time.

Hey Council… You want to put a giant park over the railway tracks in the downtown core?  Before you do that, move the tracks, add a driving tunnel, add a subway or LRT, and then once you’ve used that space to the max, then bury it and put a park on top.  Then above the park, put a bicycle path – enclosed or covered or not – where bikes can shoot across the city and not interfere with traffic and visa versa.

It’s not rocket science…

It has to get done.

Speed it up, make it safe, and remember that there are cars who have to drive in the city.  By pretending that by adding a LRT line I’m going to stop using my car – that I pay lots of fees to the city for, if an exercise in nonsense.  I’m not going to all of a sudden pack my kids and their sports equipment and them and hop onto the subway to take them to their games and practices.

It’s not practical, and is never going to happen.

 

In other Toronto-news:

The Toronto Rock Lacrosse team is the BEST game in town that no one goes to see.  These games should be sold out!  Best game in town!  The Rock destroyed the 1st place New England Black Wolves 21-9 in front of just 9,125 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

As a LONG time season ticket holder, I’d like to see more fans venture down to the ACC to take advantage of a great event.   Coincidentally, the Rock play the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday February 3rd at 7pm at the ACC.

 

The Royal Rumble was last night.

The Grammys were last night.

The NHL All-Star game was yesterday.

 

Great time of year to be a fan.

As long as you’re not driving.

 

Oh, and we take the subway to the Rock games… Convenient, cheap and reliable.  Good thing the games are at the ACC, or we’d drive.

 

 

 

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How The Eglinton Avenue Re-Development Message Got Lost: It’s NOT About You!


This was a very troubling week for The Urban Daddy and our community.  An apparent sudden decision by the municipal government here in Toronto had thrust our neighbourhood into chaos and as citizens moved into action our efforts to seek the truth were suddenly derailed by the actions of one man – whom I will not mention by name, nor show his picture – who feels his 15 minutes of fame are far more important than the residents and taxpayers in this area.

It all started with a news report on CP24 alerting residents in Toronto that Toronto City Council was going to vote on the narrowing of Eglinton Avenue from Allen Road to Bathurst Street from 5 lanes, to just 2 lanes, so that the sidewalks could be widened, trees and artwork placed on the strip and bike lanes added.

All of this seems very nice, and very practical, and as a resident in Toronto, specifically someone who lives in between those streets and who is already impacted by the Eglinton Crosstown LRT / subway, this information came as quite a shock to me, and apparently to many of my neighbours.

This strip as it currently stands is terrible – construction aside – as a result of many one-way streets, and the absolute lack of traffic on the strip.  At night-time, the street is aglow with “MASSAGE” signs and very few people walk in this area at night because, frankly, there is nothing to walk to.  If the goal was to make this strip feel more “European”, then maybe Toronto City Council might want to think about the 3 months a year in which weather would comply with this drastic transformation.

In addition with St. Clair Avenue already being down to one lane in parts as a result of the transit right-of-way, doing the same to Eglinton Avenue, the next major road north, makes even less sense.  Eglinton is the end of Allen Road, an “expressway” of sorts which helps traffic flow north and south from Wilson Avenue without traffic lights, but with a lot of traffic.  People use Allen Road to head north to the 401 highway, and the delays have always been long and frustrating with or without construction, one could imagine it would only get much worse.

Let me at this point identify that I am pro every method of transportation.  Cars, bikes, walking, public transit are all great.  If I could take public transit everyone in Toronto, I would, where it makes financial sense.  If I could bike safely, I would, and my kids would too.  But we are not there yet, and don’t appear to be for quite a long time, so in the meantime, doing anything to slow down traffic does not make sense at all.  But that is my opinion…

So where is traffic going to go, if it cannot move along Eglinton Avenue, or St. Clair?  Well the side streets, of course.  We are already seeing a huge increase in traffic as a result of the construction, and in front of my house, for example, there is a stop street which very few cars actually stop at, some do not even try, and they fly through without even braking.  The “30km” traffic limit is always ignored, and speed bumps only cause a momentary delay as cars race off after passing them.  Even one-way streets are ignored, and it’s going to get worse.

But what about the kids?

This community, Cedarvale, which lies just north of Forest Hill, has a ton of children, and these children cannot safely walk in this community as it already stands.  Is Toronto city Council’s shortsighted view of the war on cars overlooking or ignoring the impact this re-development will have on the children in the community who are already scared to cross streets because vehicles travel very fast and do not follow the street signs when using Cedarvale as a short-cut to avoid the delays on Eglinton?

It would appear so.

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford came to speak to the community about this issue, a couple of says after his return from rehab, I met some community members who lived on the other side of Eglinton Avenue in the next phase of this narrowing of Eglinton were just as shocked as I was, and who had put together a traffic study, which can be found right here; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjP4HWMeieo&feature=youtu.be)

Adding to this frustration is that we learned that the City Planner had approved high density building along this strip with the widening of the laneways behind these buildings (which would require residential houses to be removed) to accommodate the traffic from these buildings.

More construction.

More traffic chaos.

Has the city planner, or city council ever been to these neighbourhoods?  $700K bungalows, and $1.5 million houses are common place in Cedarvale, much higher south and east of here, and a lot of families reside here who are certainly not going to need the extra sidewalk to walk to a massage parlour, a Whole Foods maybe, but clearly no one asked the residents what they want or need.  To look at the map of the area and declare it ripe for additional density of short-sighted.  This is not the right community for that.

Mayor Ford came to speak to us, and his message was lost, because of the actions of man who ran across the street, through frustrated traffic, so he could take off his shirt, pull out signs from his garbage bag and stop the community from hearing the Mayor’s views on this proposal, or to allow us to ask questions of the Mayor about what he knows about this plan.

The media at the event helped even less, but asking questions of the Mayor with disdain, like “How is it that you don’t know about this vote?  Is it not your job to do so?” when members of the community also knew nothing about this proposal, and then by diverting the attention to the few who took off their shirts for their own 15-minutes of fame.

If you watched any of the footage on TV, you probably heard me, and several others yelling for these 3 protestors to “shut up” and “let the Mayor talk” and while we did get a very short moment of quiet from them, it was when the guy yelling “resign” over and over again elbowed the Mayor’s campaign leader in the head while trying to get right behind the Mayor with his sign.

To his credit, the Mayor’s staffers did not respond or get as annoyed as the members of the community did, although, the police stepped in which this protestor yelled “don’t assault me” to the Mayor’s staff after apparently being kicked (I did not see this – I was recording the events) but the police decided to not charge either person, and the protestor was allowed to return and annoy the mayor and the residents.

The result of his actions were that the message of this proposal got lost.  The community were livid, the Mayor frustrated and the only person who got any attention was the guy with the sign, who proceeded to tell his story to everyone and anyone about how the Mayor lied, and how he works in a flexible position where he can follow the Mayor around and yell at him.

I waited after almost everyone left, and listened to his story evolve and change.  It was not about Eglinton Avenue and the residents or about traffic, but about someone who wanted to talk about how his was kicked, and assaulted, and how much support he has.

“Me Me Me”.

But it’s not about him.

It never was about him.

I looked at my video and saw a different unfolding of events which threw some key details of his story into dispute, and I shared that with the media and with the other Mayoral candidates teams so that they can be aware of the true intent of this individual.  He’s taking a very serious situation of an unwell person struggling with an addiction problem, who took the time to enter rehab and is now back trying to do his job, and he made it about him.

At the end of the day, we all lose.

As for the proposal along Eglinton….  I have no idea.

My message to Toronto City Council, Councillor Joe Mihevc, and the guy with the signs who likes to take off his shirt and disrupt important discussions impacting people their families and their community, is this:  It’s not about you.  It’s not about your legacy or your vision.  Leave Eglinton alone.  Don’t force another St. Clair on us because you want to be on TV.

Toronto City Council, don’t waste your time looking to spend money you do not have.  Clean up the area instead.  Fix the sidewalks, make sure the lighting is working, that dogs are on leash near schools, that the intersections are clearly marked and are safe (Ava and Strathern, for example), step up safety in the area and PLEASE, get rid of the raccoons!

Make the area safe and people will use it.

But Leave Eglinton Avenue alone.

And if you have a problem with the Mayor, address it the way everyone else does… At the ballot box.

TORONTO ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE. March 16th, 2014.


Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day (and the day before)!

On Sunday, March 16, all eyes will be smiling in downtown Toronto for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Enjoy a family friendly celebration of Ireland and St. Patrick with colorful floats, bands, dancers and marching groups. There will be a golden touch at the green celebration with Olympic gold medalist Irish boxer Katie Taylor acting as Grand Marshal.

The procession starts at noon from St. George and Bloor, heading east before turning south along Yonge to Queen where it makes a final turn to finish at Nathan Phillips Square. TTC access and parking are available at several points along the parade route.

For more information, please visit http://www.topatrick.com/.

St. Patrick's Day Parade Route 2014

Randomness: TTC Observation


My random thought for a Tuesday…

Last night on my way home from my son’s soccer game, I saw a TTC bus (public transit in Toronto) sitting at a bus stop letting off a passenger. About a block away a medium sized woman and a VERY large (but young) man broke out into a sprint to get on the bus.

These two were determined to get on to that bus…

They got to the end of the bus – needing only to reach the front doors to get on, when…

… The driver closed the doors of the bus, drove through the yellow light, and went on to the next stop.

Either incentive for the couple to get a little more exercise, or yet another example of what is wrong with the TTC in Toronto…

I really just thought that the driver was being a jerk a he left that stop a few seconds later.

But hold on…

I reached out to a friend of mine who works at the TTC and he told me that under no circumstances would a drive pull away from a stop if there was a person running for the bus – regardless of their proximity (or size). He said more than likely, the driver was checking the time to ensure he was on schedule and just pulled away from the stop without looking – as the bus was waiting for a couple minutes before it left.

I guess in this case, being on time – and therefore providing good customer service to all the passengers accidently resulted in bad customer service for that couple…

They just can’t win!

I should re-title this post, “Why working for the TTC will never be an easy job”.

Ride the Rocket!

The better way!!!

A Tale of Transit Woes in Two Large Metropolitan Cities


I found the following very interesting.  Today there are two stories around the same topic – public transportation and reducing costs of it, and the actions taken to correct it are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  The pathetic Canadian response refuses to touch the fact that the TTC holds the city hostage with their extremely high salaries, poor customer service, questionable work ethic and the ability to strike at a moments notice.  The MTA in New York also in debt offers up a solution right up front… Read on.  

Toronto – A Toronto Member of Provincial Parliament’s bid to have the TTC designated an essential service is being derailed by the Liberal government because Toronto’s City Hall refuses to ask the province to outlaw transit strikes.

Liberal member David Caplan (Don Valley West – Toronto) introduced private member’s legislation Monday that would strip Toronto Transit Commission workers of the right to strike.

While the MPP’s bill passed first reading by a vote of 39 to 7 – with the unanimous support of Progressive Conservative (right wing) and Liberal (centre) members, including six cabinet ministers, and the New Democrats (left-wing, union / welfare loving party) dissenting – the government intends to quash it.

The bill “does not reflect the government’s position,” Liberal Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne told reporters.

“The municipality (Toronto) would have to ask for that action and that has not happened,” said Wynne, adding “costs can increase” because arbitrated deals are often more costly.

Caplan, a former cabinet minister, said arbitration is already the norm because strikers are routinely legislated back to work as soon as they hit the bricks.

“There is significant dissatisfaction with the service on the TTC … the unreliability and the work disruptions that I have seen. People will not ride a system which is not reliable,” he said.

Deriding the bill as “a pathetic political ploy,” TTC union president Bob Kinnear, who engineered a wildcat strike in 2006 and a legal stoppage in 2008, blamed those disruptions on Queen’s Park failing to adequately fund transit.

TTC chair Adam Giambrone (Toronto council member with a reputation from promiscuity) warned “this piece of legislation could end up costing tens of millions to the city and the province wouldn’t pay anything.”

While (Toronto’s left-wing commi-pinko) Mayor David Miller supports the status quo, the two leading contenders to succeed him in October welcomed Caplan’s bill.

“Concern about the cost of arbitrated wage settlements aside, (it) reflects an appropriate source of concern about the cost of TTC service disruptions to the city and commuters,” Mayoral candidate and former Liberal cabinet minister, George Smitherman said in a statement.

Former Liberal strategist and mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi said the bill “shows there is clearly a larger role the province can play fixing the TTC.”

Among Toronto city councillors (the majority of whom are left-wing) in 2008 rejected by one vote a motion to ask the province to make TTC workers an essential service, opinions remained split on Monday.

While in New York…

New York –  The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will try to clean up some red ink by handing out pink slips to more than 1,000 employees.

MTA Chairman Jay Walder says the layoffs are extremely painful but the agency must live within its means.

“The State’s economic crisis demands that the MTA move quickly and decisively to cut costs, and that is exactly what we are doing,” Walder said.

The MTA plans to eliminate more than 600 administrative positions and it will begin laying off up to 500 transit station agents.

The MTA said in December it was facing a $383 million budget gap. It’s due largely to a cut in state aid and lower-than-expected revenues from a payroll tax.  On Tuesday, they announced another $378 million gap which had developed this year based on revised state revenue projections.

The MTA said management employees whose jobs are cut will be offered a severance package.

“This is just the beginning of a comprehensive overhaul of how the MTA does business,” Walder said. “We will be reducing overtime, consolidating redundant functions and working with suppliers to lower costs. We will not stop until I can say that every dollar the MTA receives is spent wisely.”

What a novel concept.

I want the MTA running the TTC… Right away.  Screw the mandatory unionized wage increases and the fare increases.