Ward Boundary Review Results, Round 1

May 31, 2015

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With the findings of the first round of the ward boundary review in, there was much to talk about. So we did. We talked. The Ward Boundary Review results. Now, you listen.

audibly submitted by Cityslikr


What Are Words Worth?

May 30, 2015

Words matter. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t try so desperately to misuse them in our attempts to mislead. Thus, ‘public safety’ translates into private scrutiny. wordsworthA picture may be worth a thousand words but a single mistruth convincingly told can literally alter a landscape.

So while it may seem like partisan semantics to challenge the word ‘hybrid’ as it’s currently being used in the Gardiner east debate, the fact is, it’s simply not correct. The “hybrid” option, as framed by Mayor John Tory, should be considered more of an affectation, a pretense. Lipstick on a pig, to coin a colloquial phrase.

“Hybrid” brings to mind a sense of environmentalism, do-goodism, looking out for future generations. I drive a hybrid, man. Emphasis on the hybrid.

“Hybrid” also conjures up images of agreeable compromise. The best of both worlds brought into pleasing alignment. Perfection? No. Are you perfect? I’m not. But together, we can make the best decisions possible.

Ahhhhhh…. “Hybrid”! … Even the consonants are pleasing.

(You don’t think that word was given the brand marketing going over?)

The problem is, “hybrid” as Mayor Tory is trying to sell it to us isn’t any of that. The only hybrid aspect of his plan for the Gardiner east is the painful forging together of two terrible ideas. Maintain the elevated portion of the expressway as is, only moving it slightly. abracapocusNot once but twice. That’s the “hybrid” of this option. A mess of unadulterated political calculations. A melange of pure reactionary self-interest.

Think ‘city building’ and then slide over to the exact opposite of that. If you land on Escape From New York, you’ve gone a little too far. The right direction. Just a little too far.

The good folks over at CodeBlueTO have come up with the proper term for the mayor’s Gardiner scheme: Modified Maintain. It stems from one of the four original proposals that city staff put forth before last year’s campaign. Maintain, Improve, Replace, Remove. It essentially maintains the eastern most 1.7 kilometre section of the Gardiner as an elevated thoroughfare with a layout change that threatens future waterfront development.

Keep it Up To Maintain Appearances, basically. Mayor Tory wants to spend a half billion dollars to prove that he’s always looking out for car drivers while, not coincidentally, looking back over his shoulder for the Fords, determined to give them no fodder for what everyone’s convinced will be some variation of a mayoral rematch in 2018. oppositewordsA legacy for the city? Screw that. Mayor Tory’s all about numero uno. This has everything to do with his personal legacy.

Modified Maintain.

If the mayor were being honest, that’s what he’d call the Gardiner option he’s pushing for, expending political capital on. Modified Maintain. It’s just that it flies in the face of growing expert opinion that wants to see this 1950s-era hunk of infrastructure brought down to a more human scale. (Why, just yesterday, the Council for Canadian Urbanism weighed into the debate, standing in opposition to Mayor Tory, of course.) Modified Maintain leads fairly directly to ‘maintaining the status quo’ which the mayor has assured us, that’s not what he was elected to do. Just the opposite. The opposite being just the opposite of… the opposite?

Mayor Tory’s the embodiment of the status quo, is what I’m getting at.

Over the course of the next 10 days or so, he will, in effect, be hitting the campaign trail, selling this thing he won’t call by its proper name – Modified Maintained – and pressuring his council colleagues to fall in line behind him. He will spout words, many, many words, many times over, most of which won’t be in the faintest way related to their actual meaning. lipstickonapigLike his predecessor, he’s fighting against evidence and experience with this and will have to pretend he’s not. So you won’t hear him say things like ‘craven calculation’ or ‘political pandering’ or ‘fundamental lack of leadership’.

In other words, the mayor won’t admit to reality. He’s put himself on the wrong side of this issue for all the wrong reasons, and now must desperately paint a picture where this is about two equally viable options with no easy, perfect choice to choose from but he’s done his level-headed, reasonable, rational, prudent, sensible, all-the-reports-read best to make his decision. Does he look like someone who wouldn’t do and be all those things?

Clearly, he is and when he tries to convince you otherwise, just remember two words.

Modified Maintain.

wordily submitted by Cityslikr


They Killed Meep

May 29, 2015

guestcommentary

He was only four foot four, so it is not hard to imagine that someone driving an SUV down Hollywood Boulevard at night could have failed to see him. Especially if he’d been jaywalking, as the police report said he had been. But the sad, tragic and completely unnecessary death of Ben Woolf, 34, who played the part of a carnival-show pinhead known as Meep on NBC’s American Horror Stories, was also disturbing for the manner in which he’d been killed – clipped by the side mirror of the SUV.

Surely this must be a daily occurrence, I’d thought after reading his obituary. How many times had I felt the blast of wind as a driver sped by with only inches to spare, pinning me against my parked car as I waited to get in? Just the other day, one of them had even flipped me off as he passed, ignoring my gesticulated plea to slow down. benwoolfI wonder now, if I’d been clipped by the side mirror, would the police report say that I too had been jaywalking?

After this latest near-miss, I remember I tried to be analytical, a little way I have of calming myself after a close call. I thought about how much safer that particular street would be if it were to give back a lane. You know, to the pedestrian. I’d read somewhere that narrower streets, and narrower lanes, had the effect of slowing down traffic. But a ‘street diet,’ as it is called, is never easy in this town, where what you drive and how you drive it are important status markers. Just try telling a guy in his brand new $150,000 Tezla that you’re lowering the speed limit or putting one of his favorite roads on a diet and you’re risking a lawsuit, if not a punch in the eye.

And the thing is, most of us have been on both sides of this equation. As pedestrians, we get it. Life is frustrating for drivers. Traffic keeps getting worse and the infrastructure wheezes. Streets are dug up, college campuses are shot up, and doddering movie stars crash-land their single-engine planes into golf courses. None of which is good for traffic (or golfers, for that matter). And let’s not forget the frequent fundraising visits of our commander in chief, which only worsen that pre-existing condition we like to call Carmegeddon. Thanks, Obama.

So like I said, we get it, because most of us are drivers as well. And when we get in the car, there’s usually a very good reason for it. suvpedestrianWe no longer Cruise the Strip, a fantasy about L.A. that is still very much in vogue for certain East Coast press elites. Contrary to their assumptions, we’re too busy, and we’re usually in a hurry. So much so that sometimes it can be a challenge to not hit a pedestrian. And once in a while, we actually do hit one, and they die, or come very close to it.

Even Eric Garcetti, our pedestrian-friendly mayor, got into the act shortly after assuming office. As he carried on what was undoubtedly important city business, the driver of the SUV he was riding in ran over a pedestrian. The woman who was hit survived with minor injuries, and to his credit, hizzoner’s driver stopped. And the incident did induce a reaction on the part of law enforcement. Only, many are saying, it was the wrong reaction. Rather than finding new ways to slow down and reduce the number of vehicles that pass through our increasingly crowded Downtown, One-Adam-Twelve decided to increase the number of tickets they were already handing out – for jaywalking.

There it is again, that word, ‘jaywalking.’ First coined a century ago, it was used as part of a campaign by the auto industry to orchestrate the takeover of our cities. antijaywalkingPedestrians, who had until then been strictly free-range, would now be corralled and told to obey different colored lights. And accidents between cars and pedestrians would no longer be the fault of the joyriding driver but of the jaywalking pedestrian himself.

This is, of course, what happened to Ben Woolf. As with the mayor’s driver, the driver of the SUV that struck Mr. Woolf stopped, and also was not cited. It was deemed an accident because Mr. Woolf had been jaywalking. As for the incident with the mayor, it occurred right outside the Times Building, and was even captured on security cameras there, which gave it a certain local flavor. But still, the Times saw no there there, as this too appeared to be a case where the victim was at fault.

Then two weeks ago, a young man named Eduardo Lopez got a jaywalking ticket for $197. antijaywalking1The Times reported on the extreme hardship the ticket presented for the 22-year-old, who lives with and supports his mother and four younger siblings in a one-bedroom apartment. When ticketed, Mr. Lopez, a hustler in the best sense of the word, had been running to catch a bus that would have taken him to Glendale Community College in time to make his first class. This after not sleeping for 24 hours and working the graveyard shift at a pallet manufacturing plant near LAX.

It may turn out that coverage of the unreasonable and punitive ticketing of Mr. Lopez will help hasten a shift city-wide in the balance of power from drivers to walkers. But that will come too late for Ben Woolf. Friends and fans alike were devastated by the news of his death, and filled the correspondence columns of Variety and other outlets, giving us a fuller picture of the man. One posting revealed that he’d done a more-than-passable job at learning Hindi for a movie in which he’d been cast. Another talked about how he’d be missed by the pre-school kids he worked with as a teacher when he wasn’t acting.

Yet another said simply, “They killed Meep.”

benwoolfmeep

It was an odd and moving summation of the sadness felt in the community for the unnecessary death of one of its own, a man we were as likely to bump into at Trader Joe’s as to see performing in the carnival world we call TV.

sadly but unsurprisingly submitted by Ned Teitelbaum


Reading Between The Lines

May 28, 2015

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Reading between the lines of Mayor Tory’s remarks about the Gardiner Expressway – May 12, 2015:

Good afternoon.

[One day before public deputations at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee about the options for the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway. Before public deputations. Almost like they didn’t matter.]

In the next few days and weeks, there will be a lot of discussion about the future of one of Toronto’s most important pieces of road infrastructure – the Gardiner expressway.

The fact is there has already been a lot said about the eastern section of the Gardiner.

Positions have been advanced. Editorials have been written. [Almost all of it coming out in favour of the removal option. Except for some special interest groups like the CAA.] There is an active and ongoing conversation on the subject and I welcome that. [Although by publicly proclaiming a stance before deputants spoke, he’s essentially ignoring it.] That’s as it should be in a healthy democracy.

emptyspeech

It’s come to the point now where I believe I should let the people of this city know where I stand on the issue as their mayor. [In order to dampen any enthusiasm that might spring up from public deputations the following day.]

To set the table briefly, there are three options before us. We can maintain the Gardiner as is, repairing it to ensure it remains safe for drivers and pedestrians walking nearby.

Option two, we can tear it down and replace it with an eight lane roadway at grade, or street level.

And finally, option three, what’s known as the hybrid approach, which would remove a section of the expressway and open up lands to the east of the Gardiner [As would the removal option, in addition to which another 12 acres that the “hybrid” option will effectively shutdown development on.], but also maintain a continuous connection with the don valley parkway [For 3% of the morning rush hour commuters. 3%. An extra half billion dollars for 3% of the morning commuters. Do the math on that.]

Some will know that during the election campaign I favoured the hybrid option. [A different “hybrid” option that engineers declared wouldn’t safely work in joining up with the DVP. A different “hybrid” option that didn’t negatively impact the 12 acres of so-called 3C lands. A different “hybrid” option from the new one Mayor Tory’s stumping for that just went public a month earlier.]

I did so because I believed then, as I do now, that we have to keep traffic moving in this city. Not just traffic but commerce as well. [Somebody should ask FedEx about their traffic study, and why they’re moving their time-sensitive business east of the Gardiner as if it didn’t matter to their ‘commerce’ whether or not the Gardiner is removed.]

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We have one of the worst congestion problems of any large city in North America and there was little doubt in my mind that tearing down the eastern section of the Gardiner would only make matters worse. Much worse. [There is very little actual evidence to back this claim up. In fact, just the opposite. Almost all studies of traffic post-expressway removal show little to no adverse impact of the removal. Look it up if you don’t believe me.]

Since the election there have been a number of studies and reports on the subject. There have been public meetings, as well. [Again, almost all in favour of removing the eastern portion of the Gardiner.]

I have listened, and have read the reports thoroughly, including ones dating back ten years on this issue.

Just this past weekend, I drove the eastern section of the Gardiner and I have also looked at it, and the area around it, from below, on foot.

I did what, frankly, I think people would expect from their mayor – a careful and thorough review of the available facts and evidence. [And somehow still arrived at the same conclusion a less ‘careful and thorough’ mayor, like say, Rob Ford would. Odd, that.]

This is not an easy decision. Not by a long shot. There are compelling arguments on each side. [The one Mayor Tory is about to make the case for, a lot less compelling. Unless by ‘compelling’, the mayor means, I don’t know, ‘hollow and self-serving’.] Ultimately, for me, it came down to a number of important considerations.

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Right at the top of the list – traffic. We simply can’t go on the way it is. We have to keep people and goods moving in this city. It is vital both to our quality of life and to our economy. [The “hybrid” option will do nothing to make this better. Nothing.]

There are also the lands to the east of the expressway – the so-called Unilever lands – which are primed and ready for development. Not just a handful of buildings, but a transformational development that would employ thousands of people and pump billions into our economy. [Removing the eastern portion of the Gardiner would do the exact same thing. The. Exact. Same. Thing. No either/or like Mayor Tory’s trying to make it. Plus, the removal option opens up an additional 12 acres of waterfront property that the “hybrid” option locks outs.]

I also considered how these plans fit with my desire – and the desire of so many of us – to build a truly great city – a city that is on par with the other great cities of the world in terms of urban design, taking into account the aspirations of all of our residents, whether they drive, cycle or move around on foot. [All truly great cities are falling over themselves to put up or maintain waterfront expressways. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.]

The option to maintain the eastern section of the Gardiner as is would keep traffic moving. What it would not do, however, is unlock the tremendous potential of the Unilever lands. For that reason, I don’t believe it is a good option. [Agreed. What do you know? Mayor Tory can actually not talk nonsense when he puts his mind to it.]

Now to the remove option.

While parts of me understand the desire to tear down the eastern section altogether [Just 2 years ago, in his role as head of CivicAction, John Tory championed doing just that, tearing down the eastern portion of the Gardiner], I don’t believe we can and let me explain why.

In the next few years, another million people will move here. Those people need to get around. The businesses that serve those people, and the 2.8 million that are here already, need to get to them as well. Whether we like it or not, and notwithstanding transit projects like Smarttrack that will be built – that involves cars and trucks.

I didn’t get elected to make traffic worse. And let’s be clear – removing that piece of the Gardiner will almost certainly make traffic worse. [Ooops. There he goes, talking nonsense. It won’t. In almost every other situation where an expressway was removed, traffic did not get worse.]

While experts disagree on just exactly how much worse – one says three to five minutes, another says ten – [Classic he says/he says argument that suggests equal weight should be given to both sides. Kinda like climate change deniers. This is not an equal debate. A critical mass of experts and accomplished city builders want to tear down the eastern portion of the Gardiner.] there is no doubt that there will be a negative impact on commute times, [Yes, as a matter of fact, there is some doubt.] and that means bad news for families, bad news for business, bad news for the environment and bad news for quality of life overall. [None of which the “hybrid” option will help.]

A number of weeks ago when we were able to re-open sections of the Gardiner early, I got all kinds of emails and messages from people who said that their commute times had dropped by 20 or 30 minutes. [Purely anecdotal evidence based on a far more used portion of the Gardiner. In no way salient to this debate.]

They told me what an enormous difference it was making in their lives, just to have that extra time at home with a child or a spouse. [Ahhh, that’s nice. But again, utterly irrelevant to this debate.]

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The remove option would take us in the opposite direction. [It would not. What reports was Mayor Tory reading?] It would erase those extra minutes and hours with the ones we love and, quite conceivably too, add even more time to already long, frustrating commutes.

To me, a great city is many things, but it must be one where you can get to work in a reasonable amount of time. A great city is one that allows you to be at home with your kids, instead of spending hours in your car fighting traffic. [The “hybrid” option would do little to alleviate this. Sorry if I’m repeating myself. It’s just that the mayor keeps saying the same thing over and over again.]

Great cities, some will say, don’t have elevated expressways. They have boulevards and friendly streets.

But take the time and look at it and I think you will reach the same conclusion I did.

The eight-lane roadway that would replace the eastern section of the Gardiner would, for all intents and purposes, be a street level expressway. [Now Mayor Tory is just out-and-out making shit up. Think University Avenue.] Any notions of sipping a coffee in a café [A Ford-like dog whistle statement! Downtown elitists, sipping coffee in a café, sipping not drinking or chugging.] next to a busy, congested eight lane highway should be put out of your mind, because it’s just not a reflection of reality. I mean, the traffic could just disappear or divert itself onto other streets. But ask yourself. Does that accord with common sense? Is that a likely scenario? Again I don’t believe so. [Doesn’t matter what Mayor Tory may believe, despite all the reports he claims to have read, traffic does largely disappear or adjusts to the new reality. Maintaining road space maintains traffic. Induced demand. Look it up. Clearly the mayor didn’t.]

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The fact is there are elevated expressways in great cities in the world. New York. Amsterdam. Tokyo.

What they’ve managed to do there, and in cities like Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai and Glasgow, is make use of the space underneath the expressway, transform it from dead space to a vibrant piece of the urban fabric. [I’ve been to every one of those cities save Glasgow and the one thing I don’t remember is what was going on under their expressways.]

We’ve started to do that here with the Fort York Centre and underpass park. That’s what innovative, forward thinking cities can do. [No, that’s what cities do to adapt to horrible decisions they’ve made in the past that can’t be easily redone.]

I intend to take on the challenge personally. I will take the talent we have and, using the examples from around the world, bring the space under the Gardiner to life. Make it creative, welcoming urban space. Skate parks in Philadelphia, markets in Rio and an art gallery in Amsterdam. The possibilities are endless.

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It should be obvious by now that I support the hybrid option. And I do for the reasons I have just laid out. It will keep traffic moving. It will keep our economy strong. And it will ensure that the development potential at the Unilever site is realized and with it thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in value.

And we will take up the opportunity to do something unique with the space below and around the expressway as other great cities have done.

[Mayor Tory’s just on a loop repeat now, regurgitating easily refuted points here.]

Cost is always and issue and so let’s spend a minute on cost. There are those who say that the hybrid option is too costly, that the dollars needed are greater than either of the maintain and tear down options.

It’s true that the hybrid option costs more. But when the costs looked at in real dollars, once you discount the effect time has on money, they are only slightly greater.

And ask yourself this – what are the costs of congestion getting substantially worse.

[Congestion the “hybrid” option will in no way help to address.]

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What are the costs of halting development of an exciting new downtown on the east side of the city with thousands of new jobs, new homes and new stores? [Again, Mr. Mayor. Removing the Gardiner east will not halt development of the Unilever site. In fact, if you’d waited just one day to listen to the public deputations, the First Gulf – Uniliever developers – representative said it didn’t matter to them aside from the maintain option. “Hybrid”, removal, whatever.]

We need to unlock that development. And we need to keep this city moving. [Absolutely. The removal option unlocks even more potential waterfront development.]

The best way – the only way – to do that, in my view, is the hybrid option. [How many reports did you actually read, Mr. Mayor?]

The public works committee will consider this issue tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, whether it makes a recommendation or not, ultimately this is an issue that will be decided by the full City Council with all of the facts on the table and after a full and thorough debate.

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I’m confident that once that happens, when we have those facts and we have that debate, it will become clear that the hybrid option is the best choice, the best way forward.

The best way to keep our city and our economy moving, the best way to unlock potential and value in emerging areas, and the best way to ensure our place among the great cities of the world.

[Yaddie, yaddie, yaddie. Boilerplate gibberish. The mayor’s decision has already been made, facts, thorough debates and convincing deputations aren’t going to change his mind. The next couple weeks are going to be filled with propagating bullshit and backroom arm-twisting of a compliant city council.]

Thank you and I look forward to taking your questions. [But you already know what Mayor Tory’s responses will be.]

parsingly submitted by Cityslikr


Damn The Torpedoes

May 27, 2015

Despite protestations to the contrary, it appears as if the Scarborough subway will be open to further debate. At our mayor’s behest no less. To build more of it.wtf

Good god.

Yesterday the Toronto Star’s Jennifer Pagliaro wrote about the behind-the-scenes mad scramble of the Team Tory’s increasingly desperate attempt to square the circle of building SmartTrack and the Scarborough subway, two lines of high order transit that threaten to gobble up each others’ ridership numbers, inflicting on one, possibly both of them, a bad case of white elephantitis.

“SmartTrack, which Tory largely staked his election campaign on and which hinges on the use of existing GO rail in the east, can’t be moved,” Pagliaro states. “The subway, which he also promised to build, can. At what cost, however?”moneytoburn

In order to keep what was a questionable from the outset campaign transit pledge (‘bold’, as his team called it), Mayor Tory is prepared to start burning through (more) money, expand an equally dubious transit project and wreak even further havoc on an already havoc-wreaked transit system.

This, at the same time he’s determined to ignore a growing mountain of expert advice recommending against his (again, hastily drawn up) “hybrid” option to keep the eastern portion of the Gardiner expressway elevated.

Our mayor, it should by now be apparent, is a big proponent, like his predecessor in the job, of what the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Armine Yalnizyan referred to on MetroMorning today as, “decision based evidence making”.notlistening

Or, politics trump good policy, hands down. Every time. No matter what.

What kind of position does this leave city staff in (which is what I was writing about when the Star transit story broke)? What purpose do they serve a politician determined to only listen to them when there’s agreement? Props, to be used to buttress an argument when it suits or to rail against when not. Bureaucracy! Red tape! A culture of no!

Last week, when the city’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, spoke out unequivocally in favour of removing the Gardiner east, Mayor Tory shrugged, saying she was certainly entitled to her opinion.

“But I’ve sort of set out my own position. She’s set out hers,” the mayor said.squarepeg

As if by merely taking a position, having an opinion makes it valid for no other reason than its existence.

That is not to say politicians are obliged to carry out staff recommendations. We don’t vote for our civil service. It, and our elected representatives, ultimately serves at the people’s pleasure in a democracy.

To simply wave such advice off, however, sum it up as little more than competing points of view undermines the very idea of the civil service. Why bother if you’re simply going to ignore them when it’s politically expedient to do so? Somebody’s got to create the reports we need to show voters we’re not beholden to some unelected body. Come on. Are we going to let some egghead know-it-alls tell us what kind of city we want to live in? Not on my watch.

City staff, filled with expertise, certainly don’t get it right all the time. Anyone can look at a finished development or cite a flawed traffic study and conclude, What were they thinking? Our civil service is not infallible.

Should they be treated as just another opinion, though? Oplottingliver Moore of the Globe and Mail pointed out in the Toronto Star story how the mayor’s staff seemed to be telling the chief planner where subway stops needed to go. Are you fucking kidding me? In Mayor Tory’s Toronto, common sense equals supplanting expertise with political calculation.

Campaign governance. That was the Ford era speciality, now infecting the Tory administration. There is no amount of money too rich, no plan too outrageous that musn’t be pursued to the bitter, ugly end if it’s been slapped on a campaign lawn sign or featured prominently in the campaign literature. Sure, in retrospect that idea I floated while running for office seems misguided and completely unworkable but I said it, so now I have to do it.

Damn your torpedoes, man! Damn them straight to hell!!

Once more, political strategy defeats city building, leadership by poll tracking rather than informed consensus building. Don’t tell me what we need to do. damnthetorpedoesTell me how I get to do what I want to do.

Few should be surprised that’s the territory Mayor Tory’s operating in. The depth to which he’s prepared to wade into it, well, that’s somewhat shocking. He’s proving to be as comfortably shameless as the administration he chased from office, two points converging on the nexus of pure and unadulterated self-interest at the expense of a city that had closed its eyes and crossed its fingers in the hopes of something different.

sinkingly submitted by Cityslikr


Fake, Plastic And Unnaturally Green

May 26, 2015

Just last week, as a matter of fact, I noticed a truck on our street delivering what were rolls of artificial turf. ‘Design Turf Synthetic Grass’, I guess the aficionados call it. fakegrassThe notion there was enough demand for this product for a company to actually specialize in it surprised me.

I’d assumed someone had plans to cover a small back cement patio or something similar with it. Friendly up the industrial concrete feel. But really. Does that a business case make?

“I call it year-round grass,” she said, showing off her a front yard carpet of green. “It doesn’t need to be watered. It doesn’t need to be maintained. There’s no mowing. There’s no care and feeding.”

Karen Stintz, folks. Former city councillor and 1 time mayoral candidate, extolling the virtues of an artificially turfed front lawn. Or, ‘Year-round Design Turf Synthetic Grass’ as a brochure might call it.

According to the CBC report, this new generation of astro turf is sometimes difficult to tell from the real thing. All the soullessness and conformity of a grass front lawn without any of the hassle to maintain it! We know how much Ms. Stintz valued the extra two or three minutes a day she got to spend with her family when, as a councillor, she voted to rip up the Jarvis bike lanes. So, any time not spent gardening or cutting the lawn is clearly important to her.

Cheap shot? Maybe. There’s certainly a whiff of the judgmental taste police in my reaction. fakegrass2I mean, come on, Karen. No aesthetic sense at all trumping pure convenience?

In the story, she points out that there’s a city by-law against artificial grass lawns, a $1400 fine for the infraction, in fact. Don’t city inspectors have better things to do, wonders Stintz and a neighbor, than skulk around every January, looking for the greenest of grass in neighbourhoods and handing out fines to offenders? A fair question unless the by-law has something to do less with the concerns of taste and suitability than I’ve expressed and more about, say, the environment.

Sure, as another neighbour pointed out, there’s no watering needed for a fake lawn. So that’s environmentally positive. But does this new generation of faux-turf allow for rainwater or snow melt to soak into the ground below it or does it simply act as a sheet that flushes it off into the sewage system? If not, then the city has every right to enforce their by-law, as convenience for one home owner costs the rest of us money.

At this point, we don’t know but as we also learn in the report, Karen Stintz is heading back to City Hall to fight this unfair by-law.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that news didn’t bring a smirk to my face.fakegrass1

How appropriate is it that, after 3 terms as a city councillor, her last one as the chair of the TTC no less, she resurfaces on the political map, fighting for the right to have an artificial grass lawn? That’s the extent of it, the depth of her 11 years of municipal political experience. “Fake, plastic and unnaturally green,” I tweeted out when I heard the news.

Not to pat myself on the back but I think that’s the perfect epitaph for the political career of Karen Stintz.

salutingly submitted by Cityslikr


Mayor Tory Is A Lawyer, Right?

May 25, 2015

3C

The new development, with a working title of 3C Waterfront, will transform a major portion of the land where the Don River meets Toronto Harbour. 3C Lakeshore Inc., a joint venture by partners Cityzen Development Group, Castlepoint Realty Partners, both of Toronto, and Continental Ventures Realty of New York, will develop the site. The 3C site, positioned between Cherry Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East, is the largest contiguous tract of land on Toronto’s East Bayfront. The project is designed to be a mixed-use urban development adding 2.4 million square feet of residential, commercial, office, retail, and parking space to the waterfront. The overall vision of the project is to expand Toronto’s waterfront to the east by creating a vibrant community space, a gateway to the revitalized Port Lands, and integrating nearby communities into continuous urbanity.

This was written more than 2 years ago, all of which has been thrown into disarray by the sudden appearance of the updated “hybrid” option for the Gardiner east expressway being pushed by Mayor Tory. “We’re this far from settling 3 years of an appeal,” Jane Pepino, a lawyer representing the 3C development group, told the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee a couple weeks ago when she was asked what stage the development application process was at. With zero consultation “and, seemingly, no overlap between those at the city who were working with us and those at the city developing this scheme,” Pepino said, they only found out about the new “hybrid” option at a public meeting just over a month previously.

Hastily drawn up lines on a map, erasing years of careful planning. Sound familiar?

[via @_JohnTory]

Mayor Tory will tell anyone who will listen that this was the “hybrid” option he supported during last year’s campaign. The “hybrid” option both his major opponents supported. That’s not the truth. As Ms. Pepino tells Councillor Ron Moeser during her deputation, the original “hybrid” option had “no detrimental impact on the 3C lands” and they “took no position on it”.

This “hybrid” option – let’s call it “hybrid reboot” – “came out of the blue” because of city engineers’ concerns about the original “hybrid” option.

So again we have hastily drawn up lines on a map, erasing years of careful planning.

What do you think is going to happen if city council pushes ahead with the “hybrid reboot” option for the Gardiner east, scuttling years of development planning in the process, on what is perhaps the most valuable land in Toronto? Can you say ‘litigation’? No? How about ‘massive lawsuit’?

When Councillor Joe Mihevc asked Ms. Pepino for a ‘rough ballpark, back of the envelope value’ of the 3C lands, she had a one word answer for him. ‘Huge’.

Where’s the common sense Mayor Tory keeps talking about in unnecessarily risking that?

advocatingly submitted by Cityslikr