A Bit More Detail

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Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category

[URBAN NOTE] “Torontoist Explains: Short Turns”

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My thanks go out to Torontoist’s Sean Marshall for explaining, what, exactly, short turns are.

Short turns have long been one of the biggest frustrations of riding local transit. You’re halfway to where you need to be and then you’re told you need to exit the bus or streetcar. Everyone groans, and impatiently waits for the next vehicle to arrive, and no one is happy.

[. . .]

Simply speaking, a short turn is where a transit vehicle is turned back and taken out of service before reaching the terminus of the route. In a transit system as complex as the TTC, some short turns are inevitable; major disruptions such as a collision blocking a route will require backed-up vehicles to be turned around. But thanks to simple traffic congestion or poor route management, they’re a common frustration for many riders.

Sometimes, short turns are deliberate and planned: for example, during morning rush hours, every second subway train on Line 1 is turned back at St. Clair West Station. This provides for extra train service on the busier Yonge and University sections of the subway line, but reduces service north of St. Clair West. Buses or streetcars might run in service along a part of their route on the way to the garage or carhouse.

In most cases, short turns are unplanned. Traffic and weather conditions, vehicle crowding, poor scheduling, mechanical problems, or other delays will often cause buses and streetcars to fall behind schedule, sometimes resulting in bunching, as other vehicles catch up to the delayed bus or streetcar. Buses are often able to leap-frog each other, but streetcars are stuck. If delays are bad enough, it can create long waits for passengers waiting further down the line, eventually affecting passengers in the opposite direction. Transit control or route supervisors can instruct operators to turn-around early in an attempt to maintain the posted schedule.

The 501 Queen Streetcar, for example, can short turn at several points along the route. A Queen car headed eastbound from Long Branch to Neville Park can turn around at Humber Loop, Roncesvalles Carhouse, Dufferin/Shaw, Bathurst, Church, Parliament/Broadview, Connaught (Russell Carhouse), or Kingston Road. Kingston Road is an especially common short-turn location, frustrating passengers trying to get to the Beach(es).

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “How the City plans to pay for services in the future”

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Spacing Toronto’s John Lorinc gives readers more reason to despair about Toronto’s municipal government funding.

The 2016 budget debate, which lands today at executive committee after doing the usual rounds, has offered up a curious mix of urgency and its opposite.

On the one hand, Mayor John Tory and city manager Peter Wallace have been warning for some time now that city council needs to adopt unspecified new revenue tools meant to address not merely normal course operating pressures but shortfalls that are looking a lot like entrenched structural deficits.

On the other, the mayor’s proposed property tax hike of just 1.3% — a figure that is slightly under the Bank of Canada rate, but doesn’t reflect rising prices of food and other imports — is lower than anything the post-amalgamation council ever approved, except for the four years (1998-2000, in the Lastman era, and 2011, year-one of Ford) which featured zero tax increases (many thanks to Western University’s Zack Taylor for the longitudinal data). Soaring real estate prices have added a $100 million windfall to the land transfer tax, and so it seems almost certain that the federal budget will bring all sorts of manna for housing and transit. The message: we can relax because David Miller’s land speculation tax is going to save us, again.

So: Bad news and good news. Pick your poison.

At the risk of hurling Spacing readers into a pit of budgetary obscurata, let me further confound this ambivalent picture with a substantial, though little noted, shift in the City’s policy for funding certain capital expenditures from the operating budget – the so-called “capital from current (CFC)” or “pay-as-you-go” line item. If you don’t pay much attention to the CFC figure, don’t feel bad. No one does.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2016 at 5:03 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes a controversial condo project on Dupont just east of me, and Torontoist notes a controversial condo project in Yorkville.
  • Centauri Dreams notes preliminary research suggesting rocky exoplanets will be structured like the Earth.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that tightly-packed exoplanet systems are product of gas giants.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the Georgian Orthodox Church has requested police protection for a man who filed a marriage equality lawsuit in that country, since previous gay activists have been publically attacked.
  • Marginal Revolution notes an apparent permanent downwards shift in employment in the United States.
  • The Map Room Blog notes the return of stolen maps of Samuel de Champlain to the Boston Public Library.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders if the Democratic Party can shift as far left as the Republicans have shifted right.
  • Peter Rukavina recounts his recent visit to New Hampshire to see the primaries.

[PHOTO] Condo construction at night, Yonge and Gerrard, Toronto

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Condo construction at night #toronto #condos #yongestreet #construction

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2016 at 1:06 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Relief line subway advocates look beyond downtown”

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The Toronto Star‘s Tess Kalinowski has a nice interview with a student advocate of the Downtown Relief Line.

First there was FAST — Friends and Allies of SmartTrack. Now another unfunded Toronto transit project has its own support group.

The Toronto Relief Line Alliance is advocating for a project that has been pushed down the line for decades.

But the reawakened debate about a subway for Scarborough will inevitably bring new attention to the relief line.

Once referred to as the Downtown Relief Line, it is now more frequently called just “the Relief Line.” Many versions have been discussed over the years, but most envision a subway running off the east end of the Bloor-Danforth line to downtown around Queen or Front St.

University of Toronto student Louis Mark, 19, who is behind the alliance, wants to focus on what he calls the Relief Line Long. It would extend north of the Danforth, up to about Sheppard Ave. and Don Mills Rd.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 9, 2016 at 5:28 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Student files human-rights complaint against Catholic high school, board”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Caroline Alphonso describes a case of alleged discrimination by Ontario’s Roman Catholic school system against a student that does, in fact, make me think defunding the separate school system is a good idea.

When Claudia Sorgini asked to be excused from religious courses and liturgies at her Catholic high school in Ontario, she was taken aback by the response: She would also be excluded from a variety of non-academic activities and assemblies, including a mental-health awareness assembly, the graduation-preparation assembly and an honour-roll breakfast. The school considered them “faith-filled” events.

Ms. Sorgini has filed a human-rights complaint against the school, the school board and the trustees’ association for “a continuous pattern of discrimination and reprisal in connection with her request for an exemption from religious courses and activities” in her last year of high school, according to her application, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The complaint, launched with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, comes two years after a court ruled that students cannot be forced to participate.

According to a provision added to the Education Act in the 1980s, any student qualified to attend a public high school cannot be required to take religious courses. Public boards accept all students. But some Catholic schools are finding loopholes and making it more difficult or outright denying exemptions, earlier complaints to school boards indicate.

The issue of granting exemptions from religious studies has some observers wondering if the province really needs a publicly funded separate school system.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Torontoist on making Old City Hall a civic museum

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Torontoist’s Erica Ngao makes the case for making Old City Hall a Toronto museum, of Toronto.

As the fourth-largest city in North America and one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is a place of many stories, with a history that spans 11,000 years. Bringing its collective story together isn’t easy. Current mainstream narratives are filled with gaps, particularly about First Nations history and the post-1950s immigration wave. Weaving together all of the events, people, and stories that have built this city would be an onerous task.

Amalgamation also creates challenges. According to Kaitlin Wainwright, director of programming for Heritage Toronto, the vision of a civic museum was put on hold when the city’s six municipalities merged and the central museums and sites of those municipalities blended together. Today, staff manage 10 historic sites across the city—from Montgomery Inn in Etobicoke to the Scarborough Museum.

A charitable agency of the city, Heritage Toronto works with local community groups and volunteers to provide city-wide programming and services. Wainwright fears that with all the focus on a singular city museum, resources will be drained from smaller local museums that are already fighting for attention.

“Too often in our public conversations that we’re having about museums, that’s ignored, that really great work is going not unnoticed but under-noticed,” Wainwright says.

For her, the best possible outcome is opening Old City Hall up to the public, as it was originally built to be. Whether it’s a museum or not is another question.

“The advantage to using Old City Hall as a museum, as a heritage space, is that the heritage integrity of the building will be maintained and that’s foremost what’s important to us,” she says. “Would Heritage Toronto want to see more resources allocated to the museum and heritage services sector within the City of Toronto? Yes, absolutely. Does that have to be through Old City Hall? Not necessarily.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 9, 2016 at 5:20 pm

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