Wednesday, October 24, 2007

TTC suspects province is plotting a takeover - The Star

Yesterday, while heading down to Union station with a friend, transit came up. He usually rides his bike, but due to the rain, decided to take the subway. He had recently travelled to Oakville, and was surprised to find that he only had to pay 50-cents to ride Oakville Transit to the GO station. After some talk, we both agreed that amalgamation of at least the fare policies of the various transit system was a positive step in order to better deliver transit in the GTA. It's funny how foreshadowing works.

Despite the backlash from Toronto city council, I question if the public feels the same way. There is a significant number of people who feel that the city doesn't have its books in order and that wasteful spending is rampant. It's clear to anyone who cares to look that the vast majority of the deficit comes from services downloaded, combined with the reluctance to raise taxes, but even those who acknowledge this still demand that the books be opened for scrutiny. Toronto and GTA residents gave the provincial liberals an overwhelming thumbs up, which makes me wonder where public opinion will fall.

The article (and a concise version published in the Metro) mentions two points which come out of the blue, and in my opinion, are red herrings of the non sequitur variety. Firstly, the TTC chair speaks of privatisation - a suggestion which has no relevance to this question. No one is suggesting that transit become a privatised, for profit agency which will cut under performing routes. In my opinion, the province is much better suited to operate loss-leader routes than the city, which must use property taxes to fund the service. Even if the service is contracted to a private operator, the contractor must still drive buses and trains where the government says they must. Were YRT routes in Newmarket to be cut, the Regional Municipality of York, not Laidlaw, the operator, would be to blame. Secondly, the issue of zoned fares contradicts a point about 905 pandering. If, as the critics worry, the government will beef up 905 services in order to placate historically conservative voters, why would they enact a fare zone system which forces 905ers to pay more? It is clear the critics are adamantly opposed to the idea, but I think it can be done.

For this idea to work, the province would have to upload Toronto's and all connecting systems - from the Hamilton Street Railway to Durham Region Transit, and north to Barrie Transit. They would have to ensure that service is protected in more politically stable areas, and they would have to ensure that the planners responsible for the system are as open and transparent as the current TTC commission is - but the real question is what such a system could look like.

I would like to see a system where the Province, using the GTTA, take control of the rapid transit lines, and leave the local bus networks in the hands of the local municipalities. They would be free to run buses as they saw fit, but a high percentage of capital and operational costs would be covered provided they meet minimum service standards for frequency and service coverage and fares. This would ensure that local service is protected, and that residents will not have to compete region-wide for service requests. Of course, there would have to be a revenue sharing agreement for riders who transfer between rapid transit and local systems.

Brian Ashton of Toronto City Council says that "...the city has a long tradition and this would be like cutting the umbilical cord." There is no doubt that the TTC is Toronto's pride and joy, but like all children, there comes a time when we must cut the cord. In the next few years, my parents will become empty-nesters. While I hope my mother will miss my brother and I, I know that she'll realize that she and my father did the best job they could raising us, and I know that they will be proud to see us making our own way in the world. For the good of the city, and for the good of the region, it may be time for the city to share those feelings.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

All aboard the GO hydrogen express - Toronto Star

All aboard the GO hydrogen express
In the run-up to this month's election, the premier unveiled a plan to build a clean commuter train for GO Transit. Let's hope it wasn't political smoke
October 21, 2007
Tyler Hamilton
Business Reporter

Now that the provincial Liberals have secured another four years in office, it's fair to ask whether Premier Dalton McGuinty's recent talk of locally manufactured, hydrogen-powered GO trains was just election rhetoric or a serious, forward-looking strategy to nurture innovation and create jobs.

McGuinty revealed last month that his government was in early-stage talks with Bombardier to design and develop an emission-free commuter train propelled by hydrogen-powered fuel cells and used by GO Transit.

"It's our goal to get a prototype on the rails here in Ontario within three years of the project launch," McGuinty announced during a visit to a Bombardier manufacturing plant in Thunder Bay.

The idea, while ambitious, carries a certain attraction. Job creation. Export potential. There's also the vision of clean trains being showcased to the world as they run through Canada's largest city.

But for every wide-eyed person in the room who got giddy at the thought of building a hydrogen economy in southern Ontario, there were also skeptics in the crowd who dismissed such a vision as political theatre.

After all, we've been here before with promises of hydrogen-powered cars (see "The Hype" below).

We don't have affordable, mass-produced hydrogen cars on the road today, but from an industrial perspective hydrogen is a $282 billion global market. The world relies heavily on hydrogen for fertilizer production, fuel upgrading, food processing and a number of other applications where demand for the zero-emission gas is growing.

Niche fuel-cell markets have also emerged, costs are slowly falling, and storage technologies are improving, even if profitability remains elusive. Fuel cells running on hydrogen are gaining traction for back-up power, while micro fuel cells are poised to appear in portable commercial electronics. Ballard Power and several other companies, meanwhile, have made a strong business case for using fuel cells to power forklifts.

And then there are trains, or "hydrails," as some call them.

"Hydrogen fuel cells as an application for passenger trains is very real," says Mike Hardt, vice-president of North American services for Bombardier.

In fact, Ontario may have some catching up to do if it's serious about being a world leader in hydrails. A European consortium called The Hydrogen Train concluded a study last year that looked at what it would take to demonstrate a hydrogen train in Denmark by 2010. It has approached all major train manufacturers, including Bombardier, and negotiations are ongoing.

Back in 2001, Bombardier also applied to the European Union for funding as part of a project to develop a hydrogen-powered "Green Train," but the funding request was denied. Activity is also going on in Japan and parts of the United States, such as North Carolina.

Momentum appears to be building, as an international hydrail conference started in 2005 will regroup next June for a fourth gathering in Spain.

"A hydrogen train makes a lot of sense because, unlike a car, fuel volume isn't a problem," says Greg Naterer, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, which is studying the benefits and barriers to establishing a hydrogen rail corridor in southern Ontario.

Hydrogen and cars aren't an ideal marriage because passenger vehicles have limited space for hydrogen storage. To help save space, hydrogen gas can be pressurized in special tanks at up to 10,000 pounds per square inch, but this adds unwanted weight to a vehicle and, because hydrogen has a much lower energy density than gasoline, still provides only 300 kilometres or so of travel on a single fill.

Liquefying hydrogen through a cryogenic process is another option for saving space and extending travel distance, but weight remains a problem and the energy required to liquefy the gas adds to the cost of the fuel.

Trains, however, don't suffer from the same space and weight restrictions. It's also easier to establish fuelling infrastructure, because a train needs only a handful of filling stations along a predictable corridor. Filling stations for vehicles, on the other hand, are far more numerous and scattered.

David Scott, a former engineering professor at the University of Victoria who recently penned Smelling Land: The Hydrogen Defense Against Climate Catastrophe, says Toronto is an ideal place to demonstrate and deploy hydrogen trains.

"There is no other city in the world that's as well positioned," Scott says. "You'd be cleaning up Toronto, because the current trains run on diesel, and you'd be showing the world how to clean up their transportation."

Toronto is home to Hydrogenics, one of the world's leading fuel-cell developers and an active promoter of turning the GTA into a "hydrogen village." Bombardier also manufactures trains in Ontario, including the GO commuter trains that run past Pickering generating station and close to Darlington station, both of which could become valuable sources of clean hydrogen production.

Scott says he envisions a day when the side of every GO train reads: "GO Hydrogen!" or "H2 GO!" But it won't happen quickly, and that could be the biggest showstopper.

As more train systems are electrified, as battery technologies and hybrid designs mature, and as biofuels become more prevalent, the question is whether Ontario, even if it became a leader in hydrogen trains, could convince the rest of the world that it makes sense to follow.

And if hydrogen trains aren't the future of rail transportation, you can bet hydrogen-powered cars will never evolve beyond million-dollar prototypes.
Sometimes, it takes the words of a foul-mouthed, yet hilarious comedian in order to describe a project like this:

"Now what you do, is build a big f***ing thing. I don't care what it is! As long as it's big and it's a f***ing thing! And then the economy will explode, because people would say "I want to see the Big F***ing Thing!". Then there'll be a Big F***ing Thing restaurant, a Big F***ing Thing hotel and casino, a Big F***ing Thing SPA!" - Lewis Black on stimulating the economy.

This project, if successful, will serve as a world landmark. It will prove that hydrogen technology can be used on a large scale, and will make Ontario a leader in clean transportation. If it fails, it will find a way to remain around forever, the province mandating that we maintain it in hopes that someone will buy the technology in hopes of improving it.

The stakes are high, and failure could result in a large, expensive pet. From what I hear, veterinarians who specialize in white elephants don't come cheap.

But in all the hype, we cannot forget one key question:

Does this improve the transit network?

Not really - Hydrogen powered locomotives only seek to improve the environmental friendliness and reliability of the current network.

So is the current locomotive technology broken?

GO's F59PH locomotives are aging, and while diesel is a fossil fuel, trains are a much more efficient use of fuel than cars or trucks. Electric locomotives have been promised, and these are more powerful than any conventional diesel technology. Going back to 1934 reveals Pennsyvania Railroad GG1 electric locomotives producing over 4000 horsepower (out-powering GO's new 600-series fleet), while AEM-7's run by several transit agencies in the northeastern US are putting out 7000 horsepower.

So why is the government moving to develop hydrogen powered locomotive technology?

Perhaps they are chasing a dream, or perhaps they are trying to stimulate the economy with "a big f***ing thing." Either way, we cannot forget what the GTA truly needs - a reliable, efficient transit network that gives every resident the opportunity to leave their cars at home and take transit to and from their destination, no matter what the technology.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"It's Just Overkill..."

Overkill is when you attempt to solve a problem by proposing a solution that is far more elaborate and expensive than is necessary. Building a highway to solve congestion at a single intersection is overkill. Remember this definition, because I will come back to it.

One of the popular proposals floating around the internet concerns to best way to get passengers from Square One, Mississauga Transit's main hub, to Cooksville GO Station, the nearest GO station. Under the proposal, the entire Milton line, and eventually any other line, would be converted to a light rail-type line using shorter EMU trains running as frequently as every 15 minutes. Further, these trains would leave the current Milton line, run up Hurontario to Square One, run west along the 403 corridor before re-joining the line north of Erindale Station.

As ambitious as this plan is, it reeks of overkill.
  1. In my opinion, the problem isn't getting people to the GO station from Square One, its getting people out of their cars, period. I feel resources should be better spent strengthening neighbourhood and arterial routes. The streets are designed in a car friendly, transit unfriendly way, and in order to bring transit to the people, we'll need an expensive network of local buses. Money should be spent there.
  2. With the Mississauga busway under construction (assuming the speeds are as promised), a lot of off-peak ridership from Square One will use that service to get into the city. While more transit options is better than none, I wonder if, realistically, ridership at Square One can support two rapid transit lines, both going towards Kipling.
  3. The transit network is an instrument of development, and we're better off encouraging development around the GO stations. I fear that connecting the line to Square One will only serve to continue the development of that area in particular.
  4. The Hurontario Street LRT should provide a five minute connection between Cooksville Station and Square One, which is more than adequate, and will have a larger catchment area than this single stop diversion.
I am not opposed to more connections to Square One and I'm not opposed to frequent service on the GO rail network. I applaud the authors of this idea for thinking big - which we must do - but if we want to win over the public support, we must keep our ideas grounded in reason-ability - if that is even a word.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

High speed rail

With VIA Rail's new funding came renewed calls for high speed rail in the Windsor to Quebec corridor, and in-particular, between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. It would not be cheap, at upwards of $11 billion for TGV style service, but reports going as far back as 1991 say that such a service would make a profit. That's right, a profit!

But alas, many suspect the usual suspects killed the proposal. And they, the airline industry, appear to be at it again. Governments don't subsidize airports, they say, so why should they subsidize train stations and railway lines?

But, if you believe Transport 2000, then there is no way that any government will let Pearson or Trudeau or YVR close. Essentially, any investment made is guaranteed. Based on that, which amounts to a type of subsidy, why shouldn't the government subsidize high speed rail?

The airline industry has all the signs of an industry without a working business plan. Like telecommunications and the recording industry, they lobby, complain, sue and use hostile takeovers to ensure that there is no competition. Maybe that's why I'm more willing to spend five hours on a bus than a single hour in the air.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Foot-in-mouth disease

So I guess $700 million over five years isn't chump change. It's exactly what was promised under Chrétien and un-promised by Martin, but its not the legislation necessary for VIA to borrow cash from the private sector. Still, my foot is placed firmly in my mouth for jumping to partisan conclusions before the announcement was made.

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We can rebuilt them again. The technology hasn't changed since the last time we rebuilt them

Word on the street is that VIA Rail Canada will receive a long needed funding injection later today, but analysts think this will only cover the rebuilding of the HEP and LRC class coaches and the F40PH-2 locomotives - far from what VIA Rail needs to become a true player in the intercity transit mix.

While the announcement is being made in the name of environmental policy, the conservatives have always had an eye to privatize the service. I doubt we'll see anything other than maintaining the status quo unless the liberals take power in the next election.

Speaking of elections...

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

S-Bahn Madness

S-Bahn is short for "Stadtschnellbahn" - German for "fast city train". It is usually used to describe a commuter rail service that operates very frequently in both directions, all day. I am officially protesting the use of this term for Canadian applications, because I believe that we need to de-mystify transit in order to encourage more people to use it and to support its expansion.

What is so wrong with saying "all day GO trains" or "better than Lakeshore Line service?" It describes the same concept, only in words the average citizen can understand.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nuit Blanche

I've always enjoyed exploring, especially urban places, and I vowed this year to be the year when I got out to explore the city. Through a combination of sticking to that vow and some assignments that required exploring (as I began to write this, the professor who has assigned all of those assignments was chatting to me about Nuit Blanche) I think its fair to say that I've done a lot of walking this term.

I'm not really interested in modern art, but my interest in Nuit Blanche came from a social experiment. What would it be like to walk the streets of Toronto from dusk till dawn?

My night began at Bay station, meeting Chris, a classmate and close friend. I had to buy a day pass, and due to high sales at the downtown stations, we went to Chester to find one - mainly because I had never been to Chester before.

Back at Bay, we met the final member of our trio - Denise, another classmate. We picked up a program, and each of us picked an art installation to start with. Chris chose Untitled (Box Project # 2), 2007 (A-11). We wondered if Chris chose the cubes, or if they chose him.

"Three boxes restlessly mimic the most basic of human activity. While one box may shake slightly, another may stay still for a period of time, only to frustratingly try to inflate itself. Outside of these basic functions, I wonder what defines us as human."

Next came my first choice, Diamonds in the Sky (A-12). My choice was the installation most frequently used to market the festival, and while very pretty, it was not exactly as advertised.

"A long, glistening string of bright, white lights seems to hang from the heavens, taller than surrounding buildings. Moved gently by the wind, the lights have an ephemeral shimmer to them as they sway back and forth."

Next came Denise choice, Event Horizon (A-8). It was art on a massive scale, and was very interesting, but was ultimately anti-climactic.

"King's College Circle is the scene of a mysterious spectacle. The audience witnesses emergency vehicles assembled. Sirens are heard as smoke billows from the grassy field. As a single file line forms that leads to a large white tent, the mood is subdued. The curious crowd wants to see the cause of the commotion. Heavenly music plays. One by one the crowd enters the tent and is witness to an unfolding intergalactic miracle."

After this, we tried to see Ghost Station (A-9), but the lineup was an hour long. We decided to head down Queen West from University, eventually reaching Trinity-Bellwoods Park and seeing Fluorescent Dome (C-15).

"Situated on the edge of Trinity Bellwoods Park, a luminous fluorescent dome serves as a beacon for the city. Universal in form and origin, it resonates in a dynamic equilibrium; unifying cultural difference through a non-hierarchical structure."

We continued west to Dovercourt, then walked up to Bloor to see Denise home. It was 4 am when we left her apartment, and Chris and I headed to Christie Station and got on an eastbound train to Bay. The line to get into Lower Bay had completely cleared, and we descended those mythical stairs to see Ghost Station (A-9).

"Lower Bay Station, Toronto's ghost station, is used as a vessel to contain sounds that are within and below the threshold of human hearing - infrasound and tactile sound - where sound is felt rather than heard. Low frequencies created by cars and subways are contributors to the cacophony of infrasonic noise that exists deep below the rumbling of the city. These tactile sounds have also been associated with paranormal activity and ghost sightings."

After spending some time in the station, we headed towards OCAD. It was after 5am by this time, but there was still a lively crowd. We reached Chinatown by the time the first Dundas and Spadina streetcars were running, and we reached Ryerson at 6am to catch the misting toilets in the Devonian pond on campus (B-40b).

The sun was starting to come up as we decided to call it a night.

Transit was a mess, mainly because the all night subways were only running every 15 minutes and the sheer volume of pedestrians stalled regular routes and special shuttles caught behind right- and left-turning traffic. Also, most restaurants closed at their normal times - they would have made a killing had they stayed open. Finally, with installations as far west as Roncesvalles, as far east as Carlaw, and as far north as St. Clair, the festival was just too spread out.

But despite those criticism, Nuit Blanche was an outstanding experience. The city was alive for one night, and despite the hangover-like feeling I had for the rest of the weekend, it was an experience I cannot wait to repeat.

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Nuit Blanche 'overwhelms' TTC services - Toronto Star

Nuit Blanche 'overwhelms' TTC services
`Huge' turnout for all-night art festival leaves streets jammed, travellers waiting
October 02, 2007
Bruce DeMara
Entertainment Reporter

The numbers for Toronto's second Nuit Blanche are still coming in, but it's clear the 2007 version was a smashing success – maybe even a bit too successful.

Numbers from 195 venues are steadily trickling in as organizers try to determine the economic impact of the all-night event. But there's little doubt they'll handily exceed last year's inaugural year estimate of 425,000 people.

"My first impression is that there were probably twice as many people as there were last year. It was huge," said Councillor Kyle Rae.

You don't have to tell that to the hundreds of thousands of participants who relied on extended TTC service – shuttle buses, streetcars and subway – and found themselves waiting and waiting.

"There were people coming from all over the city and frankly, the TTC service was a little bit overwhelmed. There's no other way of saying that," said Councillor Joe Mihevc, a TTC commissioner.

"Next year, we will be more fully prepared with much greater service. We did not think this would be such a large success and so we provided a minimalist service as opposed to what we really needed for –the downtown core at least – which was rush-hour service."

TTC chair Councillor Adam Giambrone said for surface routes – especially along Queen St. W. – milling crowds were the main factor in slow service.

"If we'd doubled the number of streetcars, it still wouldn't have improved service on Queen St. You still could have walked faster than the Queen streetcar," Giambrone said.

But he noted the TTC ran short of day passes and had difficulty getting around the provincial Employment Standards Act – which requires specific breaks for hours of service – in getting staff to operate various routes.

From a policing perspective, the event was remarkable. A spokesperson for Toronto police said there was no criminal activity reported that related to Nuit Blanche.

Jaye Robinson, the city's director of special events, called the lack of incidents "very impressive" considering the unexpectedly large crowds.

At the Gardiner Museum, for example, the numbers increased to 17,000 this year from 11,500 last year. At the Church of the Redeemer on Bloor St. W., an event put on by the Greek consulate rocketed to 15,000 from 1,000 last year.

The event's popularity means organizers should get an "immediate" start planning for 2008, Robinson said.

"It's grown so rapidly here in Toronto (because) of the way Torontonians have embraced the event. It's just remarkable," she said.

"Strategically, we have to look at the scale and the scope of the event. It needs to grow to accommodate the crowds," she added.

Mayor David Miller called the event "unbelievably successful."

"If anything, we had too many people. It was just extraordinary and it was clear Torontonians have an incredible appetite for modern public art installations, including offbeat and weird ones," he said.

But not everyone agreed the event was an artistic success, including the mayor's own daughter, Julia, 12.

"My daughter ... leaned over to me and said, `Dad, everything in Nuit Blanche is weird,' " Miller said, with a laugh.

Artist Mark Reid – partner of Toronto councillor Kyle Rae – panned a Church St. display, noting it could have been "a lot raunchier."

But Reid said art is meant to be unpredictable and Torontonians shouldn't expect to like everything they see.

"It's contemporary art. A lot of it is not easy stuff. It's not your white bread and potatoes type of stuff," Reid said.

Many artists spontaneously took to the streets and to event venues, in some instances using bedsheets as screens to show off their videos and films.

"There's something that makes it special, being up all night. If you did the equivalent (event) for a day, it wouldn't be the same at all," Reid said. "Staying up all night is a big thing."
I've got a full post worth of comments to follow...

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An apple a day...

Those who know me personally know that Apple is slowly taking over me. After years of refusing to get an iPod, I purchased a 5th generation iPod video one year ago, and I've never looked back. Almost two months ago, I purchased an iMac, and I'm very happy with my purchase. Even though I have windows installed on it, I rarely use it - mainly because the only time my mac crashes is when windows is involved.

Yesterday, I saw an iPhone for the first time. Nicknamed the Jesus Phone by Gizmodo, it's a smart phone with organizer, a wireless internet device with a specialized youtube player, and it's a widescreen video iPod - all with a touch screen. It will be my next phone when my contract with rogers expires in two more years. By then, European laws will require it to be unlockable, so I'll be able to use it without fear even if Canadian cell phone providers don't carry it.

Today, I popped into the Apple store in the Eaton Centre to check out the new iPod Touch - essentially an iPhone without the phone. This brings me to the whole point of this post:

I can confirm that and the blog display correctly on the iPod Touch. However, despite Apple's marketing, the version of the Safari browser on the Touch is the same as on the Mac or PC. When I clicked post a comment, it attempted to open a new window, then returned a "cannot open this page" error.

If Apple is listening (and I'm sure they have web crawlers who search the internet for blogs that mention them), I think a blogger and loyal customer like myself deserves a test unit to see if the iPod Touch can render my site in all locations. Consider it an investment.

I'm now imposing a moratorium on shameless attempts at free stuff for one week after this post is published.

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GTA seeks $6B from Ottawa to help fund transit projects - Toronto Star

GTA seeks $6B from Ottawa to help fund transit projects
October 02, 2007

The Greater Toronto Transportation Authority has put in its bid for a share of the $13.8 billion federal budget surplus announced last week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper – a plea that echoes Premier Dalton McGuinty's demand for transit aid in a letter to Harper last week.

The GTTA wants Ottawa to cover one-third of the $17.5 billion cost of building 52 mass-transit projects in the Toronto region by 2020.

McGuinty, in announcing the MoveOntario plan in June, said Queen's Park would supply two-thirds of the needed funding, about $11.5 billion. But it would be up to Ottawa to provide the rest.

So far the federal government has failed to commit to the plan.

But "their one-third share is definitely doable," Halton Region chair Gary Carr told a GTTA board meeting last Friday. "This body expects an investment of $6 billion."

It's the least the federal government can do given that "the federal surplus actually comes from this area," said Mayor David Miller, who also sits on the GTTA.

Among its projects, MoveOntario will pay to build Toronto's $6 billion Transit City streetcar network.
I'm glad to see movement on this plan before the election. It shows whoever wins that we're serious about this plan. The federal government's response, on the other hand, should clearly show how serious they are.

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Access ramp will blight Osgoode Hall, critics argue - Toronto Star

Access ramp will blight Osgoode Hall, critics argue
Project delay sought by city's heritage office
October 02, 2007
Donovan Vincent
City hall bureau

An access ramp set to be built next year in front of the Osgoode Hall courthouse should be delayed because it would have a "serious negative impact'' on the building's architectural heritage, say Toronto's preservation department.

The provincially owned building, which houses the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Great Library and Convocation Hall as well as the Ontario Court of Appeal and Superior Court of Justice, was designated a national historic site in 1979.

The $1.5 million ramp project by Ontario Realty Corp. is to start next April.

But the city's heritage and planning departments are calling for a deferral.

A report put before the Toronto and East York community council today argues "the proposed new barrier-free entranceway will cause the porch to cover, obscure and alter the formal proportions of the carefully composed classical façade.''

It calls the Queen St. W. landmark "one of Canada's most significant architectural and historic treasures and ... possibly the most significant heritage building owned by the province."

The proposed ramp design includes new steps, a guardrail and sloped walkway with curbs.

A spokesperson said the heritage department isn't against making Osgoode more accessible, but wants a more suitable design.

But any design will face "some very significant constraints," said heritage officer Mary MacDonald. "They have to do with the cobblestone, the size of the entrance, the distance that's required in order to have the right ramp slope."

Given these difficulties, she said her department isn't sure whether a proper design is even possible.

MacDonald argues the project can wait until a provincial committee can issue new guidelines for buildings under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Ontario Realty Corp.'s Jim Butticci said the project will proceed because "it's a fundamental right of all people to be able to enter Osgoode Hall in a manner that is equal, independent and dignified."

Toronto lawyer David Harris, who has acted for many disabled clients, said in his view "accessibility trumps heritage concerns.''
This article is the intersection of two hot issues, and issues that I both support. Accessibility is critical to make a socially just and universally livable city, but at the same time, genuine historical preservation is necessary to preserve a city's identity and prevent it from becoming a faceless metropolis.

I don't know the answer to this question, but I do know that this will set an important precedence.


Monday, October 01, 2007

What happens when class lets out early - A letter sent to GO

To whom it may concern:

I was a passenger on train 281 on Monday, October 1, 2007. This train was delayed 25 minutes due to the train hitting an object on the tracks. In addition, the train had to be terminated at Bramalea station, with bus connections the rest of the way. In total, I was one hour late arriving at my home.

I am certain that you will receive dozens of complaints about this incident, but rest assured that this is not one of them. I am sending this message to commend the train crew for handling this delay in a professional way. Though I am sure they were under a lot of stress, the crew kept us informed with regular and honest updates.

I have a background in mechanical engineering, and consider myself somewhat of a transit enthusiast, and this gave me an appreciation of the technical problems and safety concerns causing the delay. I understand that events like this occur from time to time, and that to blame GO would be misplacing blame.

It is no secret that your agency is under immense political pressure to improve its performance, and I cannot say that I am not eager to see service improvements also. However, I want you to know that there are some riders who take these delays in stride and harbour no ill will towards GO Transit.

Your faithful rider,

Andrae J. Griffith