Archive for May 2016
This morning’s photo post about Fort York, and tangentially the War of 1812 and the wider theme of Anglo-American relations, made me think about the different ways relations between the United States and the British Empire have been depicted in alternative history.
Sometimes scenarios are imagined in which the Thirteen Colonies never break away from the Empire, producing a range of results as variable as these colonies becoming the powerhouses of a superpower tranatlantic commonwealth to North America becoming a restive continent-sized Ireland. Other times, scenarios are imagined where the British Empire and the United States end up becoming committed enemies, the established power and the rising one fighting over borders and spheres of influence, with or without allies. I think it might be relatively rare that the two polities are shown as having a peaceful relationship from the start. Perhaps it’s because peace isn’t as interesting?
What I find fascinating about the War of 1812 is that it represents a point at which Anglo-American relations could have tipped into one pattern or the other. Had there been more adroit diplomats in both countries, the war could have been avoided altogether, and Anglo-American relations would have been much warmer earlier. Had one side or both pushed more, we could have had different boundaries. Had the war started earlier and lasted longer, been more a North American theatre of the Napoleonic Wars, the long-term consequences would be incalculable. The Toronto I live in and love certainly wouldn’t be the same city, whether under American jurisdiction or alternatively as part of a polity extending even deeper into the Midwest or as something else entirely. Relatively minor changes could have ballooned into huge things.
(I suppose this, this demonstration of the butterfly effect writ large, is why I like alternate history so much. Small things matter, have import. What greater reassurance can anyone have than this?)
Torontoist’s Emily Macrae looks at how Toronto can learn from Strasbourg’s approach to bikes, to bike parking in particular.
Cycling is a big deal in France’s seventh largest city. Strasbourg boasts 560 kilometres of bike lanes and 19,000 bike parking posts for a population of just over 275,000 in the city itself and around 768,000 in the metropolitan area. By comparison, Toronto has slightly more than 400 kilometres of bike lanes (including both protected cycle tracks and off-road trails) and 17,000 “post and ring” parking stands on sidewalks and boulevards.
One of these is not like the other.
The success of cycling infrastructure in Strasbourg is a result of partnerships between the city and other transportation agencies. Parcus, the city’s arms-length parking authority, manages parking lots throughout Strasbourg and incorporates bike parking as part of its facilities. Parcus provides free, supervised bike parking at five different parking lots across the city. Parking attendants are even equipped with repair kits and bike pumps.
In Toronto, the City’s Transportation Services Division is responsible for sidewalk bike parking as well as other short- and long-term bike parking facilities. Although Toronto is not yet home to automated underground bike storage, Transportation Services manages several other solutions that allow for a higher volume of bike parking and a greater level of security.
Much more there.
The Toronto Star‘s Ben Spurr writes about the Toronto police’s apparently continued pursuit of bike-lane violators.
Cyclists aren’t shy about giving David Armstrong advice on how to do his job.
“Give him the ticket, man!” shouted one rider on Monday afternoon, as Armstrong, a shift supervisor for Toronto Parking Enforcement, wrote up a driver for parking in a bicycle lane. “This is bulls–t!” the cyclist added before he pedalled away.
Monday marked first day of “Right 2 Bike,” a weeklong enforcement blitz targeting illegal parking in bicycle lanes.
To the many frustrated cyclists who complain about being forced into traffic by inconsiderate motorists, the blitz, which coincided with the annual Bike to Work Day, was long overdue.
But despite photos frequently circulated on social media that show cars invading Torontos’ bike lanes with seeming impunity, Armstrong is adamant that the parking enforcement unit takes the issue very seriously. According to the police, officers have issued over 23,000 tickets to drivers parked in bike lanes or separated cycle tracks since 2013.
[URBAN NOTE] “TTC letter warns homeowners their houses might be expropriated for Scarborough subway”
San Grewal’s Toronto Star article isn’t surprising. Scarborough may well want a subway to symbolize its inclusion in a greater Toronto, but there will be costs. The expropriation of property is just the start: the transformation of entire neighbourhoods is in the offing.
Residents on a quiet Scarborough street, some who have lived there for four decades, have received letters from the TTC warning them their houses might be expropriated to make room for the new subway extension.
“I’m not going, they’re going to kill me to take me out of here,” Scott Cole said Monday, after receiving a letter on May 25 from the “Toronto Transit Commission” informing him that the bungalow he’s lived in on Stanwell Dr. for 26 years might be subject to a “Property Acquisition Process.”
There has been no official approval of the subway alignment — running north-south under McCowan Rd., which the homes back onto — that would affect these homeowners, but they’re now convinced it’s a done deal.
The letter says this particular alignment will be presented at a public meeting Tuesday, the first in a series of meetings planned over the next three weeks. However, the letter, received by at least a dozen neighbours, says no decision has yet been made by council, and the recommendation has not even been seen by the City of Toronto’s executive committee.
The National Post‘s Stewart Bell reports on the decision to deny the leader of the Toronto 18 release. This isn’t something I necessarily have a problem with given the scale of what the group planned, which included multiple truck bombs in Toronto and the planned decapitation of the prime minister in Ottawa. The lack of effective rehabilitation programs is a concern, as I mentioned yesterday.
A decade after his arrest, the leader of the Toronto 18 terrorist group has made “insufficient change” to warrant release from prison, the Parole Board of Canada has ruled.
Following a hearing, the Board said in a seven-page decision that while Fahim Ahmad had recently “entered a process of change,” he still did not appreciate the seriousness of his crimes.
The 31-year-old, who organized training camps to prepare recruits for attacks in Ontario, has “no viable release plan” and continues to exhibit concerning behaviors, the Board wrote.
[. . .]
Ahmad, a Canadian born in Afghanistan, pleaded guilty to terrorism offences in 2010. He was scheduled for statutory release in August 2015 but the Board decided he wasn’t ready.