Posted in Community, family, government, news, politics, Toronto, ttc, urbandaddyblog

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.

Posted in Life

Maybe I should have let him put on my cufflinks…


Poor Stewie!

He’s not feeling well.  He’s been sleeping a lot and not eating as much and if you know him, or have read this blog enough, you would know this kid loves to eat.

Just yesterday morning I called to him to come into our room so he could pick my cufflinks and put them on my shirt sleeves but he did not show up. 

His older brother Linus did so I let Linus pick the cufflinks and put them on.  I think he wanted to do it because Stewie does it and likes doing it, and after trying to put the first one in he got bored and I have to remind him I have two arms.

As we left my bedroom, I said to him; “We don’t need to tell Stewie about this.  He’ll just get upset.”

Linus replied, “Okay Daddy”.

Then within 10 seconds of leaving the room, I heard Linus yell to Stewie, “Hey Stewie!  I just picked and put on Daddy’s cufflinks and you didn’t”.

Then came the tears, followed by the rage.

After a couple minutes of explaining to Stewie that I had called for him to come but he did not, I allowed Linus to do it and tomorrow if he wanted he could pick my cufflinks.  He demanded that I take my cufflinks out “RIGHT NOW” so he could put them back in.  He told me he hates me and he said he wanted to “Kick my head off”. 

After hearing that, I walked over to him, knelt down in front of him, placed my head at his waist level and said to him; “Okay, go ahead… Kick my head off.  Go.  Do it”.  wisely, he declined but while trying to explain to me that I should have waited for him, he was secretly undoing my right cufflink. 

I yanked away my arm, cufflink dangling from the loop. 

He then started to cry as I walked towards the door to leave for the office. \

“I hate you”, he yelled, “I love you enough for both of us”, I replied.

“I hope you have a terrible day” he screamed, “I am so far”, I replied, “But I won’t once the door shuts”.

Then he made some silly noise which sounds like a combination between a hiss, a mouth fart and a grunt.

I hope he felt better.

Poor nanny.  🙂

Posted in Community, Daddy, disaster, family, health, Life, Linus, Parenting, sleep, Stewie, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Since I Can’t Get a Camera Crew To Follow Us Around, I’ll Blog…


There are so many times that I have wished that I could have a camera crew following around my children – due to their uniqueness, wit and humour – but since that is never going to happen, blogging about them seems to be the perfect fit.

If you have tried blogging about kids, you know what the big problems are, right?  First, having to remember what they said, or did, then there is all the privacy concerns – you don’t want to put them in harm in order to get hits, and finally because as they get older then don’t want stuff about them on the net!

Kids are hilarious.  Admit it.

Take this evening, for example, as my middle child, Stewie was showing a childhood friend of his grampa a new toy that he has called Bey Blades.  In explaining what they are, the question was asked of him, “are they like dreidels?” to which Stewie replied, “they are like dreidels but they are not.  These are made with very sharp steel and if you spin them on your tummy they will slice you in half.”

Oh yes… Very serious boy.

Then there was the day after fathers’ day when Stewie made his 5th consecutive appearance into our bedroom in the middle of the night.  Sometimes he arrives because he’s scared of lightning, other times because he had a bad dream.  This night it was because he was “bored”.

So I walked him back to his room – without talking to him – and tucked him back in the bed.

No sooner had I returned to my bed when he started to wail, and with that, I heard the stomping of his feet as he made his way back to our room.

Then there was silence.

I think I fell right back asleep.

I opened my eyes at what was likely 5-minutes, but felt like 5-hours and there, standing beside my side of the bed, glaring at me with hate in his eyes, was Stewie.

I got out of bed, and walked him back to his room without engaging him, because engaging him is what he wants and if I don’t talk to him, the hope is he’ll stay in bed next time.

But he was starting to complain so I asked him to tip toe back to his room, as I put my finger over my mouth and whispered Ssshhhhh.  That clearly was not what he was hoping for, and instead of tip toeing he began to stomp as loud as he could.

So I got mad and told him if he was going to make any more noise, that I would shut his bedroom door.

NOT A GOOD IDEA!!!

He started to wail very loudly.

Apparently one thing my son hates more than noises in the night is noises in the night in his room with the door closed.

I took a deep breath (probably a very deep breath as it was past 2 in the morning and I made sure I was clear  in the way parenting expert Alyson Schafer taught us and I said to him, “This is your choice.  Do you choose to be quiet and go to sleep, or do you choose to make noise, wake up your brother, sister and mother, and sleep with the door shut”.

He chose to be quiet.

So I left.

Laid my head down on the pillow… closed my eyes… then heard wailing.

So I walked into his room and calmly said to him, “I believe you have chosen to sleep with the door shut” and with that I quietly shut his door and walked away.

He wailed louder than before.

I went into our bedroom and my wife was now clearly awake.  We huddled in for a strategy session.  She suggested I bring him into our bed to sleep before he wakes up the rest of the house.  Not wanting to be a sardine in my own bed, I went to sleep in his bed.

The kid is a master manipulator!  Seriously.  Got what he wanted, which was his mother and got me completely out of the picture… Genius!

He must have still been upset in the morning because while I was brushing my teeth, he confronted me in my bathroom (he’s 4-year-old).  “Are you going to be nice to me today, Daddy?” he asked.

“Are you going to sleep in your bed tonight?” I countered with.

“If you are not going to be nice to me, I am not going to give you back your fathers’ day presents”.

“You took back my fathers’ day presents???”

At which point I heard giggling from our bed.  My wife had heard this exchange and apparently knew he took back my presents.

I got down to his level, gave him a huge hug and kiss, told him I love him and with that, he disappeared into his room, only to return with a bag full of the presents he had given me a week prior.  He unloaded the presents as I stood there wondering how we gave birth to the repo man…

He’s going to be interesting as he grows up…

 

Another interesting parenting moment came one morning last week as we were all struggling though this stomach virus, and our oldest, Linus was sitting on the toilet in his bathroom, Stewie was on the toilet on the main floor of the house and our bathroom was occupied.  Only 30 minutes later did we find that Linus’ toilet was never flushed.  We called him in but he denied it was him.  He said it was Stewie.

“Stewie was on the main floor,” I responded.  “It was totally you!”

“Not it wasn’t” defended Linus.

Believe it or not, this conversation went on for 5 minutes, with myself and my wife defending our position and there was Linus with his one line of defense, “It wasn’t me, it was Stewie”.

He kept this up until we dropped it.

Some battles are just not worth fighting, eh?

I’m going to make a note of this pattern and see if it’s something that progresses, continues or drops off as he gets older.  Defending shit is not worthwhile!

 

Finally, one last Stewie story as tonight, he made his way into our bedroom at only 10pm.  He was watching my wife work on her laptop, and he was very happy to see that she was exploring the online ordering of stuffed Angry Birds toys.

I thought I could capitalize on this moment and be a great parent when I suggested that my wife not order them until Stewie was able to sleep in his bed for 5 nights in a row.   She agreed and together we explained to him why we thought this was a good idea.

Well let me tell you, for those of you who have not met Stewie before, that this bright idea of mine did not go over well at all!  He broke into a fit and through part exhaustion, part stress, he said to my wife that she was the “meanest mummy in the universe”.

That was just the beginning!  I’m starting to see that when he feels jaded, picked on, or feels that he is being treated unfairly, he immediately strikes out against my wife / his mother.  Then he turns his attention to me.

All we heard about for the next 45 minutes through tears, anger and an unwillingness to forget, was that he wanted / needed / was going to get an Angry Bird or he was going to “break down our house”.

Oh my.

He was so over-tired we tried to listen without giggling, but the odd giggle slipped out and I think it made it worse.

Needless to say, we did not order the Angry Birds.  We gave him the conditions, and within 2-3 weeks he had the toy.

Another character trait to watch as he gets older!

Posted in government

An Alcoholic Amongst Us: Why is management turning the other cheek?


Drunk Star
Drunk Star (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes.  Have ANOTHER drink…

Damn.

There is this guy that works in my office that has been boozing up a storm for quite a few months now.  He drives to the office drunk. He drinks during the day at his desk which means he staggers around the office babbling shit, then has a drink at lunch and drives home intoxicated at the end of the day.

When I asked his good friend why he is doing this, I was told that he is having a “tough time at home”.

I’m really sorry to hear that, really I am, but come on…  He is not the only guy in the world having home troubles.  Having problems at home (or not) does not give him the right to put others’ lives at risk while driving around the city – especially around our office where there are 4 schools.

My friend, when you had children, you gave up the right to self-destruct.  You want to be an adult, then you need to grow up.

But the more I think about it, the more I questions what bugs me more?  The fact that he is driving to and from the office intoxicated endangering the lives of others while he does so, or that I just found out that all the managers in our area knew about him, and have chosen to do nothing about it.

Within 2 days of finding out that this was an ongoing problem and not just a once-off event, I was determined to not turn a blind eye, and one evening I was working late and all the managers were sitting together talking about him when I wandered over and demanded they do something about it.  I told them that if he came to the office drunk tomorrow that I would call the police.   Their response to me… They told me that something was done, and he no longer drinks.  Okay.  I’ll believe that when I see it.

I am 2 years into my MBA program and if I’ve learned anything its that there are certain responsibilities that leaders have to take on and while not yet a manager I certainly could not sit idly by while he drives around the office hammered.  G-d forbid he hurts or kills someone…

Another thing that always bugged me about this guy is that he is one mean unfriendly son of a gun.  When I first started working there back in 1997, my team leader asked me to transfer an account to this guy and not knowing otherwise, I did just that.  The next morning as I was taking off my jacket in the morning at about 7:30am, he appeared at my desk and told me that was refused to accept the account and that regardless of who told me to forward it I will NEVER send accounts to him.  Not trying to be a wise-ass and trying to figure out if it was him, or an unwritten rule I asked him a few questions to which he angrely responded that if I continued to “press the issue I’m going to use you to test whether or not our windows are safe when I toss you up against it and hopefully through it.

Gulp.

He was serious.

Oddly, now that he’s boozing, he’s REALLY nice to me.  He’s like, “hey buddy. What’s up? How’s the kid? Everything OK?” Makes me wanna hurl. He’s a nice, social, slobbering drunk, and a real prick when sober. I caught him trying to go to the women’s bathroom and had to steer him the correct way.

So I waited for an extra day and first thing in the morning I witnessed said individual staggering towards the kitchenette carrying, not one, not two, but 4 empty bottles of water to fill up.  As if water covers up the smell of booze.  Just the sight of him acting like that makes me angry and ill.  How dare he insult our intelligence by coming to work like this and how dare management put their heads in the sand as if everything is ok.

I see a trend here.  The ostrich-effect… tuck your head in the sand and hope it goes away.

So I had a chat with him… Told him I was worried and that something had to be done.  We have a fantastic employee assistance program and I have referred others to it, and he told me that his wife had left him and taken their 2 kids.  He was really fond of the kids.  I asked him to please promise to not drive to the office drunk and mentioned that the police were aware and would be waiting to see his condition when he came and when he left.  I really felt for him.  He was half the man he used to be.  He had lost a lot of weight and had gone for that angry prick to a man who had nothing to live for.   He sat at his desk that morning, emptying his drawers and throwing out his junk.  I watched him at around 1pm walk into our section manager’s office and I could hear crying.

2 hours later a taxi came and away he went.  I never saw him again.

(update: he passed away in the summer of 2009 a lonely and broken man after being fired from his job for drinking – not my doing, but his.  Rumour has it he was being followed by the police who pulled him over the day before I spoke to him.  It was the 5th time he had been pulled over that week and his license was already suspended.  He was suspended from the office prior to an investigation.  Then he was fired.  I’ve never seen an individual self-destruct before in a matter of weeks.)