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Keep it simple stupid Air Rail link options dead on arrival


Toronto Skyline

Toronto Skyline (Photo credit: Bobolink)

Keep it simple stupid Air Rail Link options dead on arrival

It was actually a novel idea and it was nice to see a unity at City Hall. They may have been a bit far reaching, however it would have been nice to see connections at Eglinton and maybe St. Clair. However this was “dead on arrival”. As indicated on NewsTalk1010 this morning, the Government said “what part of express rapid air link to you not understand”.  Well I guess council got it’s answer? In some sense it was nice to see a decision actually made by Metrolinx. It would have been nice for them to offer an opinion and some decisions in regards to Transit City.

On Wednesday council will consider a motion put forward by Councillor Frances Nunziata – a close ally of Rob Ford – that calls for a major revamp of the Air Rail Link planned to run between Pearson Airport and Union Station by 2015.  

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Critical of perks? Take pay cut, councillor challenges


Fed up with fellow councillors who fulminate about their pay and perks (Michael Walker, Rob Ford, come on down), Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby made them an offer last week.

In her speech on the mayor’s tax plan (she voted with the majority to approve it), Ms. Lindsay Luby waved a form for councillors so inclined to donate a percentage of their $95,000 salary to the city or hand back their $7,785.60 pay increase for 2007.

Here’s a shocker: no takers so far.

“It’s all about councillors biting each other’s backs and trying to get a headline,” says Ms. Lindsay Luby (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre). “It’s shameful.”

For the record, Ms. Lindsay Luby will not cut her salary. “As it is, we are the lowest-paid councillors in the GTA and beyond,” she says. “I earn my pay.”

Mr. Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North), who cites pay and perks as examples of profligate spending at city hall, wants nothing to do with her offer, saying he already forgoes his $53,000 office budget: “I have done my part already in saving taxpayers’ money.”

During last Monday’s tax debate, Mr. Ford again needled Mayor David Miller over council perks.

“That whole argument is offensive,” Mr. Miller shot back. “To call things like office budgets, which allows [councillors] to communicate with people, a ‘perk’ is really unworthy of a member of council. … It is an essential necessity.”

The mayor could not resist a final jab at Mr. Ford, who owns a printing firm. “Frankly, not every member can own a printing plant.”

The great debate

The daylong debate on Mr. Miller’s two controversial proposed taxes last week was an anti-climax, but it contained some great examples of the Cicero-like oratory around here.

The award for best mixed metaphor goes to Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre), who urged his fellow councillors, in going over the city budget, to “corral all of these sacred cows and put them under the microscope.”

The honour for easiest question lobbed at the mayor goes to Councillor Bill Saundercook (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park), who, while arguing that the city should charge tolls on the Don Valley Parkway, let slip that he had no idea where the DVP (which the city controls) ended.

“Where does the DVP start?” he asked the mayor, who responded that the expressway begins south of Highway 401. “So north of it, it’s called 404?” Mr. Saundercook continued, incredulous. He then asked: “Why wouldn’t that be called DVP right to our boundaries?” You go get him, Bill.

While Michael Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt), holding up a tea bag and invoking the Boston Tea Party, did give the judges pause, the award for most boneheaded historical reference clearly goes to Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East).

“History shows that appeasement is seldom rewarded,” he warned centrist councillors supporting the mayor’s new taxes.

He would only laugh nervously when asked afterward just what history he was referring to. But we all know. And Mr. Minnan-Wong should know better than to invoke the horrors of the Second World War in a debate about a tax on land sales.

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The Sheppard line of Toronto – More than just empty subway cars


Adam McDowell files from North York in a story to be published in tomorrow’s Toronto Magazine:

That was pretty scary when David Miller threatened to shut down the Sheppard subway line, wasn’t it? At any rate, the gesture was meant to shock, even if some people’s reaction to the news was, “Oh yeah. I forgot there was a subway on Sheppard.” Opened in 2002 and derided ever since as a subway to nowhere, the Sheppard line represents, depending on whom you ask, a waste of taxpayer money, an example of poor transit planning or a testament to Mel Lastman’s ability to see his will fulfilled.

While a decision on the proposal to shut down the line has been postponed until September and City Hall watchers are 99% sure Miller and his allies are bluffing, just the threat of its demise made us appreciate it more — or at least want to appreciate it more. Here’s what transit riders could miss if the Sheppard line were to close its doors.

Yonge/Sheppard Station Where would you like to go for lunch? Boston Pizza? The Keg? McDonald’s? Or how about Joons for Korean or Deli Viet for Thai and Vietnamese? With its dozens of affordable, unchallenging lunch options, it seems as though this area’s entire purpose is to feed civil servants who work in the imposing federal government building at 4900 Yonge St. Bon appétit, bureaucrats!

Bayview Station Upscale shopping centre Bayview Village seems to get bigger every year, inflated by the influx of ugly condo dwellers into the area. I mean the condos are ugly, not their residents. They’re just overdressed.

Bessarion Station Suburban Bessarion Road has to be the quietest street to have a subway station named after it, but that will change as the massive Concord Park Place condo development takes shape over the next decade. Burger Hut at 804 Sheppard Ave. E. serves up great peameal bacon sandwiches as well as boerewors sausages, a nod to the area’s South African community. Its strip plaza neighbour Baxter’s sells biltong, chutneys and other South African treats.

Leslie Station They may as well have called it Ikea station, and yet a mess of bridges, train tracks and dead ends makes it all but impossible to walk from the station to the Swedish furniture retailer. Thankfully, there’s a shuttle to zip you to the store (details at ikea.com). Still, good luck lugging your new Extorp home on the TTC.

Don Mills Station Even in the midst of a major renovation, the relative calm of Fairview Mall could leave you wondering why you ever elbow your way through Yorkdale or the Eaton Centre. Fairview’s tranquility is why you have to come here to get the last one of that shirt in medium.

— Photo of Bessarion Station from David Topping’s TTC series.

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