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[URBAN NOTE] On what the leak at College Station means about TTC underfunding

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News of a leak of an unidentified substance onto the tracks at College Station that closed down the subway from Yonge and Bloor down to Union made the news. See Transit Toronto and blogTO. David Hains’ reaction at Torontoist was more profound than many others.

Remember the $2.7-billion backlog in the TTC’s State of Good Repair and maintenance funding that council-watch killjoys like to talk about? Well, when mysterious pus starts coming out of subway tunnels, that’s a good place to start. And all that talk about how the downtown Yonge line is overburdened, and that building a downtown relief line should be a priority over proposed subway lines that don’t have the ridership demand? Yeah, with tens of thousands of people waiting for a crammed bus or trying to flag a cab, that’s a good place to look, too. Or maybe those revenue tools for a cash-starved transit agency would be a good thing, so they could address both State of Good Repair and capital expansion in the way they need to.

When you’re really frustrated today about missing your morning meeting, remember that this isn’t just a TTC issue. There are years of policies and ongoing politics that contribute to small situations like this. So when you’re thinking about the slippery ooze-like substance that stopped transit, feel free to think of the politicians whose supposed solutions do not reflect the state of the TTC today.

We don’t get to keep nice things unless we pay for them.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 24, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Politics, Toronto, Urban Note

Tagged with , , ,

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Alpha Sources’ Claus Vistesen argues that as a result of various factors including shrinking populations, economic bubbles are going to be quite likely.
  • blogTO argues that Toronto’s strip clubs are in trouble.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly wonders who is going to pay for journalism in the future.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at ringed Centaur objects.
  • Crooked Timber’s Daniel Davies describes his family’s recent experience in New Zealand. Want to find out how the Maori are like the Welsh?
  • D-Brief notes the return of wood bison to the United States.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting Alpha Centauri Bb is a superdense world.
  • The Dragon’s Tales note Indonesia’s upset with Chinese claims to the South China Sea.
  • Far Outliers reports on how NGOs feed corruption in Cambodia.
  • Language Hat links to a gazetteer of placenames in Jamaica.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair looks at some Sino-English constructions.
  • Marginal Revolution points to its collection of Singapore-related posts.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers Cassini‘s footage of Saturn’s F ring.
  • The Power and the Money hosts Will Baird’s argument that the Ukrainian east will soon see an explosion of violence.
  • Spacing Toronto and Torontoist look at the architectural competition for the Toronto Islands ferry terminal.
  • Torontoist reports on Martin Luther King’s 1962 visit to Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a raging syphillis epidemic among gay men in New York City’s Chelsea neighbourhood.
  • Window on Eurasia notes changes in the Islam of Tatarstan, notes Russia’s transition towards totalitarianism, observes Russian claims of Finnish meddling in Karelia, and looks at polls suggesting Ukrainians fear Russia but do not trust the European Union.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell describes what seems to have been a shambolic attempt to co-opt the English Defense League somehow. (I don’t understand it. All I can figure out is that.

[URBAN NOTE] “Parkdale tenants battle back-to-back rent increases”

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This Toronto Star article by Manisha Krishnam makes for grim reading, especially since the neighbourhood of Parkdale is one of the few downtown (or near-downtown) neighbourhoods still affordable for low-income people. The effect on Toronto’s Tibetan-Canadian community is also noteworthy.

Property manager Akelius Canada applied to increase the rent at 188 Jameson Ave. by 4.1 per cent in 2014; this year it doubled down, seeking a 4.6 per cent hike. At least 50 residents of the midrise apartment building, including many Tibetan refugees, say they can’t afford to pay that much and are planning to protest outside Akelius’ Toronto head office Monday.

“The amount they want to increase, it’s just too much,” says Namgyal Lhamo, 39, a personal support worker who lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her three-year-old daughter and her cousin.

In a statement to the Star, Akelius spokesman Ben Scott said the increases are meant to subsidize costs Akelius incurred from municipal taxes and utilities, increased security measures and extensive renovations. The provincially recommended guidelines for rent increases were 0.8 per cent and 1.6 per cent for 2014 and 2015, respectively.

[. . .]

Lhamo, a Tibetan refugee, moved to Canada from a small village in India in 2010. As a single mom, she said she works long hours at Baycrest hospital, followed by chores when she gets home, often at around midnight. Making ends meet is difficult enough without the rent hike, she said, adding she can’t afford to move elsewhere.

Akelius, a Swedish company, acquired 188 Jameson Ave. and a handful of other Parkdale properties between December 2012 and November 2013. Last summer, residents from four Parkdale buildings filed an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board claiming Akelius’ decision to remove on site superintendents has resulted in neglect. That issue will also be discussed at an April 28 hearing.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “U.S. economist touts Scarborough as ‘best ethnic food suburb'”

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I linked to Tyler Cowen’s blog post on the excellence of food in Scaroborough not long after it came out. More recently, the Toronto Star‘s Lauren Pelly has followed up on his statement. Toronto’s internal divisions play a key role in Toronto’s lack of awareness of this, many convincingly argue.

Over the phone from his office at George Mason University in Virginia, Cowen noted that people in Toronto seem to perceive the new, hip restaurants to be elsewhere. “But it seems to me, you don’t come close to this part of town,” he said.

Rick Halpern, dean of UTSC and Cowen’s tour guide last Wednesday, agreed that most people are fixated on the downtown core. “No one goes east of the DVP,” he lamented.

Cowen’s post is making the rounds online, and sparking discussion on blogs and Reddit. Scarborough is “a foodie’s best kept secret,” as one commenter put it, though it’s no secret to locals.

“I would say that people who are into food, and who have a car, explore Scarborough and other suburbs,” said Jennifer Bain, the Star’s food editor, who has highlighted many of the area’s offerings over the years — including Uighur fare from Scarborough’s Chinese Muslim community, sweets from local Filipino bakeries, and the global flavours of Hakka Chinese food, to name a few.

But many people and publications focus on the downtown core, and west end in particular, she noted, which can give people a “skewed look” at the geographic and cultural diversity of the GTA’s food scene.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm

[PHOTO] The curving tunnel looking east of Dufferin

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The curving tunnel looking east of Dufferin #toronto #ttc #subways #tunnels #dufferinstreet

Written by Randy McDonald

March 20, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Photo, Toronto

Tagged with , , , ,

[PHOTO] What I saw when I picked up the last Xtra!

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What I saw when I picked up the last Xtra!

I picked up the last print copy of GLBT weekly Xtra! from a kiosk on Bloor Street West. The paper still survives, don’t worry, but only as an online-only journal. Seeing the uses to which this and other kiosks are put to makes me think this might be for the best.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 19, 2015 at 8:20 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Gerry Canavan produces his own compendium of interesting links.
  • Centauri Dreams speculates about the colours indicative of extraterrestrial life, and ecologies.
  • Crooked Timber takes a look at Northern Ireland and the legacies of past violence.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on a hominid fossil that may indicate a much greater diversity in our ancestral gene pool than we thought.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh wonders when the European Central Bank will start to taper interest rates.
  • The Frailest Thing warns that the promises of tech giants to free people from the shackles of the past should be seen critically.
  • On St. Patrick’s Day, Joe. My. God. and Michael in Norfolk both note the extent to which attitudes towards GLBT people in Ireland have changed.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wonders about the good sense of going off of anti-depressants.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen proclaims Scarborough to be one of the world’s best food cities.
  • Savage Minds makes the case for anthropologists to aid the post-cyclone people of Vanuatu.
  • Spacing interviews the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair on urban issues.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s David Bernstein is unhappy at the consequences for Israel of Netanyahu’s reelection, while Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at income disparities in Israel.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that high inequality and low social mobility in Russia will doom the country, notes the potential for water-driven conflict in Central Asia, and notes Russian interest in acquiring more slots of Muslim pilgrims after Crimea’s annexation.
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