Monday, December 20, 2010


A few weeks ago I began to feel that this blog needed a refresh. I originally started writing here in 2006, just after the Ontario government created the agency now known as Metrolinx. I had high hopes for the agency to improve public transit across the GTA, improve coordination between municipalities, and end cycles of ad-hoc planning.

While the debate over the future of transportation expansion within the 416 seems to suggest that Metrolinx's ability to end cycles of ad-hoc planning is limited by the willingness of successive councils to build upon the plans of their predecessors, I do believe that the agency has been successful. After many years, the Ontario government used the agency as a vehicle to plan and fund transit expansion projects. The agency encouraged us to think outside of our municipal boundaries and deal with transportation problems that extend beyond the jurisdiction of a single transportation provider. Finally, the agency developed a long term transportation vision that dealt with the big picture - not just transit planning for a single corridor.

Whatever comes of the debate occurring in the 416, I believe Metrolinx will play a key role in continuing to integrate transit systems - even if they wish to deal with their own internal issues by themselves. The TTC will continue to expand regardless of the debate, as will Brampton Transit, Durham Region Transit and the rest of the transit providers. However, Metrolinx will be key in making sure someone who lives in Brampton can connect to Toronto without having to travel through Markham first.

While this blog was originally a vision for what Metrolinx could be, it was never meant to be exclusively about Metrolinx and transportation. Throughout the years I've discussed land-use planning, urban design, architecture, heritage conservation, politics and plenty of other urban issues that I feel make cities and towns unique and exciting places. I'd like to continue to talk more about those issues, but I have recently felt that the name I selected too strongly branded me as a one-dimensional Toronto-based transit blogger. This is why I've chosen to give this space a refresh.

Visions for the GTTA is now MetroTHINK. It's a "subtle" reminder of where I came from, but I feel it gives me the freedom to explore many different topics on the places and spaces we all call home - wherever that may be. MetroTHINK is all things urban and regional.

Right now I've used some wonderful Wordpress plugins to migrate all the posts over to the new blog, and some more wonderful plugins to redirect all the Blogger traffic to the new site. The Visions for the GTTA website is still online, since it's literally a vision for the GTTA that I hope may one day be realized. I will eventually find a way to redirect the RSS feeds, but in the mean time please update them accordingly.

2010 may have been a year of global economic slowdown, but hopefully 2011 will see the sun shine brightly on the glass skyscrapers, lively parks and stately brownstones in cities all over the world.

The CN Tower's reflection in Waterpark Place

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thoughts on phasing

My most recent post, "Thoughts on Priorities", tries to argue that there is no reason why a small, lower-priority project cannot be implemented before a priority project as long as:
  • The small project doesn't affect the speed of the design and implementation phases of the priority project.
  • The small project doesn't prevent the priority project from being funded.
  • The small project doesn't build something that precludes the priority project from being built.
This post aims to look at the issues from a different angle - is it better to implement a complex project in phases, or to wait until the full build can be completed in one operation?


Friday, December 03, 2010

Semantics are fun!

A friend of mine who supports Transit City sent an email to Karen Stintz, and got a response from which I will now quote:
"As you may know, Transit City was not fully funded by the Province of Ontario or the Federal Government. The transit plan that has been funded is the Metrolinx Plan and that plan includes transit investment on Sheppard, Eglinton, the Scarborough RT and Finch. Stopping Transit City does not jeopardize the Metrolinx Plan."
While I do have the utmost respect for Karen Stintz, and have considered living in her ward, it must be said that the above quote is either factually mistaken or inadvertently misleading. The Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan identifies numerous policies for improving transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and building physical infrastructure is a part of the RTP. Transit City is the marketing name for a subset of projects within the RTP, and those projects include the half tunnel, half surface Eglinton-Crosstown LRT; the fully grade-separated Scarborough RT upgrade; and surface LRT lines on Finch, Jane, Sheppard, Don Mills and Eglinton/Kingston/Morningside. The first phase of some of these projects have been funded, but others are unfunded at this time.

Transit City is a part of the Metrolinx plan. In my opinion, it's an integral part. As such, cancelling it is cancelling part of the Metrolinx plan. If cancelling part of something places the rest of it in jeopardy, then cancelling Transit City jeopardizes the Metrolinx Plan.

My position on this issue was made quite clear several posts ago, so I'm not going to repeat it. However, if we are going to have a discussion on these issues of the day, then we need to make sure that we're debating with facts - not with lies, hearsay and misinformation.

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