c9: (streetcar)
Jim Kenzie’s unhinged rant masquerading as auto journalism (“Pan Am Games’s HOV lanes are a countrywide virus”) is a stain on the Toronto Star’s reputation. It should be retracted, and all copies used to line birdcages. Since that’s unlikely, a response.

First, his comparison of basic carpooling used around the planet to the scourge of HIV/AIDS demands immediate apology from him and his editor. Have some perspective and human decency, or go back to the internet comment section from whence you crawled.

That aside, the piece is riddled with falsehoods, math errors, and misleading statements, using his pulpit to set back our evolution into a region with an effective, non-gridlocked transportation system.

Kenzie claims only 0.001% could have benefited from the HOV lanes – 65 people, in a region of 6.5 million. But there are over 6,100 athletes competing, and GM provided 1,200 vehicles for athlete, official, and volunteer transportation, so his math seems quite impossible.

He also describes the HOV lanes – just 235 km across the entire GTHA – as being “up to one third of our traffic resources”. Ignoring his comical definition of traffic resources as merely the pavement his car touches, he should be aware that in Toronto alone there are over 5,365 km of roads. Even if every inch of the HOV lanes were inside the City of Toronto, they’d represent just 4% of our road space.

Kenzie claims the HOV lanes “didn’t work,” and that they’ve “never worked anywhere,” but presents no evidence for this. A simple Google search for “carpooling research” will yield some fascinating information, should he someday wish to research his already-published article.

Another pretty basic error Kenzie and his editor missed is that the United Kingdom has had carpool lanes in Leeds for over 17 years. And of course throughout Europe the public transit options are far more advanced than in car-oriented North America, leading to different choices.

To be fair, as one should, one thing Kenzie gets right is that the HOV lanes regularly had illegal users, especially when new. Behavioural change is never instant, and explanation of carpooling facts can help. It’s unfortunate he aligned himself with the fact-free approach to policy of our former mayor, denigrating this well-understood, low-cost tool, widely-used worldwide for managing congestion.

Just because nobody wanted to carpool with him – a race car driver and automotive writer! – doesn’t mean nobody else carpooled, and he shows this in his article: some were so willing to change their behaviour they paid strangers to sit in their car! Clearly HOV lanes can modify behaviour.

“Our highway system IS our transit system,” he declares. “If people want to ride a bus or subway, let them pay for it.” Jim, TTC’s subways carry nearly double what Toronto’s expressways carry, every single day, and the transit riders are paying. Plus their taxes – and those of cyclists and pedestrians – are going toward the massively subsidized highways you adore too.

It’s farcical to imagine that an automotive journalist truly believes the highway is the transit system. Where does he think the over 1.5 million TTC riders per day should go? In the same highway lane with him? One lane of highway maxes out at the equivalent of five subway trains per hour.

“All that pavement going to waste,” he cries, misunderstanding that the entire point is for the pavement to be available when needed. HOV lanes can upgrade the experience for everyone: emergency services, special event athletes, even auto journalists – if they decide to be a grownup and live in harmony with the rest of their region, instead of throwing a tantrum in the Star.

HOV lanes aren't a virus, but rather they're a vaccine which will help our region grow and stay strong.
c9: (streetcar)
My humble suggestion for a motion to city council:

  1. That staff cease negotiations for any change to the existing 2012 Master Agreement, retaining the existing agreement between the City of Toronto and Metrolinx to build and fund 100% of construction costs for the following projects:


    • Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Black Creek to Brentcliffe in an exclusive right-of-way tunnel, and from Brentcliffe to Kennedy at the surface in a reserved right-of-way, with underground connection to the subway at Kennedy Station, and with Eglinton widened to maintain four lanes of mixed traffic at all times.

    • Finch West LRT from Humber College to the new Finch West subway station at Finch and Keele in a reserved right-of-way, with underground connection to the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) at Finch West Station, and with Finch widened to maintain four lanes of mixed traffic at all times.

    • Sheppard East LRT from Don Mills Station to Consumers Road in an exclusive right-of-way tunnel, and from Consumers Road to Morningside in a reserved right-of-way at the surface, and with Sheppard widened to maintain four lanes of mixed traffic at all times.

    • Scarborough LRT, replacing the existing ICTS system from Kennedy Station to McCowan Station in an exclusive right-of-way combining tunnel, elevated, and surface sections, and extending via Progress Avenue to Centennial Colege and the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, connecting to the Sheppard East LRT at Progress and Sheppard.


  1. That staff rename the Scarborough LRT project the Scarborough Centre - Progress LRT.

  2. That staff work with Metrolinx to accelerate the design, RFP, and SRT closure schedules and tasks for the Scarborough Centre - Progress LRT under the already-completed Environmental Assessment, allowing completion by the current 2019 planned opening.

  3. That staff be directed to negotiate transfer of the federal government's $660 million previously promised to the Scarborough Subway Extension project to another transit expansion capital cost within the City of Toronto, including but not limited to:


    • Completion of AODA-required accessibility upgrades to TTC network, including physical accessibility upgrades to 39 subway stations.

    • ​Purchase of new Bombardier Flexity Outlook streetcars for ridership growth.

    • Extension of the Scarborough Centre - Progress LRT into Malvern (currently an unfunded phase 2 proposal).

    • Construction of a portion of the Scarborough-Malvern LRT in a reserved right-of-way from Kennedy Station east along Eglinton Avenue to Kingston Road (currently an unfunded Transit City proposal, but has a completed Environmental Assessment).


  1. ​That council agrees that the Scarborough Subway Extension to Scarborough Town Centre remains a priority for the residents of and transit riders in Scarborough, and that it be approved and studied immediately following a relief line reducing pressure at Bloor-Yonge Station opening, and constructed immediately following sufficient funding commitments to the project.

c9: (Escalator)
So I've installed the LJ app for my phone. I wonder whether I'll blog more. Maybe I can use this to vent my multi-tweet-rant urges, with actual spacing and formatting!

Hmmm.
c9: (Contrails)
I was recently asked to provide evidence for transit-related claims I've heard from many people for many years, and that I have also shared in public meetings I've facilitated with the TTC and Metrolinx. Since I like having the facts and sources, and sharing information to make the conversation around transit better, here's the results.

Question 1: "LRT actually encourages retail development more than subways." Evidence?


This is taken as a given by many – it’s been said or confirmed to me, in person, by multiple planners working at TTC, Metrolinx, and Toronto’s Chief Planner’s office. But it’s good to check, so I decided to take a look. First, the base: Transit-Oriented Development, what that means and what it does:So we can safely say transit encourages development around transit stations, and that development usually includes retail. But that’s just transit in general so far.

  • Same report, p39: 30% premium for retail development for LRT, but research was scarce in 2002 and inconsistent results mean we shouldn’t accept that 30%.

  • Same report, multiple spots: many other examples of how TOD means pedestrian-friendly areas, and information about the impact zones of LRT stops (as they are closer together, for example), though the impact zone concept applies to any stop providing reliable, predictable transit service.

So now we know the literature is inconsistent, with more research needed. There are many factors in why a city might have more or fewer retail stores, so we have to be careful not to make assumptions. However: we do know LRT stops are closer together, and that retail in North America is a ground-floor activity. We also know that LRT encourages mid-rise development (because there are more impact zones (stations) for a given area). Therefore there are more buildings, and more retail opportunities, and more pedestrian traffic near them.
More reading:
Can I safely conclude that retail develops more with surface rail than with subways? No! From this I can conclude that it develops more with closer stop-spacing. Therefore I should be more precise in my phrasing, which is oversimplified in the example that was used for the question, I agree.

I’m not a trained and certified planner and I happily defer to their expertise in this area. I would suggest, for those interested, a review of costs for underground versus surface transit, and how that may also play a part in what those experts recommend.


Question 2: "Both Sheppard and Bloor-Danforth subways have developed less than projected." Evidence?

This is another thing that is taken as a given and mentioned a lot, but more facts = better decisions, so let's check:
In year one, on weekdays, the Sheppard subway had ridership ranging from 34,000-40,000 riders per day. https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2004/May_12_2004/Other/Post-Implementation_.pdf That's weekday ridership, so to be very conservative (which means generous to the subway), let's multiply that range by 52 weeks and six days per week. (weekend days are generally not "half a weekday"), and let's ignore summer holidays, the extended Hannukkah-Christmas-New Year's period, and other statutory holidays that impact ridership.

34,000 x 6 x 52 = 10.6M
40,000 x 6 x 52 = 12.5M

Ridership in 2014 was 50,000 according to the TTC's presentation to the Board in December 2014: http://coderedto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/20141209_CEO_Presentation_Board_Report.pdf

50,000 x 6 x 52 = 15.6M

So ridership has now, 11 years late, reached the low end of the 2002 projections made during 2001.

But that question is also about condo and employment development, not ridership growth, so let's look at that. A report (which I have not personally read and would love to, hint hint) from a few years ago helps with the numbers: (http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2012/02/15/james_the_ttc_subway_report_mayor_rob_ford_doesnt_want_you_to_read.html )

  • "Planners projected 64,000 added jobs would come to the North York Centre, near Yonge and Sheppard, between 1986 and 2011. In fact, as of 2006, employment had grown by only 800 jobs over the two decades."

  • Note that the forecasts may have assumed the full original design length for the Sheppard subway, not the short version that was funded, so the next line in that same piece should be ignored: "Scarborough Centre, at McCowan and Highway 401, was forecast to grow by 50,000 jobs. Figures for 2006 reveal a net loss of 700 jobs."

  • "The office building market disappeared, taking jobs with it. Condos sprang up where offices were slated. Condos bring people, but they don’t necessarily take the subway to work because they work all over the GTA." Note that some of the most congested intersections in Toronto are along Sheppard where cars try to access Highway 401. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/05/08/toronto_identifies_top_10_most_congested_intersections.html

  • "There are more than 30 per cent fewer jobs than envisioned [city-wide]."

  • "Sheppard, even if built out to the Scarborough City Centre, will top out at 6,000 to 10,000 riders per peak hour," the report says.

A second 2012 report from city planners (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/CC20_1_app3_14.pdf ) also provides helpful information in evaluating the situation:

  • Population growth alone will not generate sufficient ridership to justify a [Sheppard] subway [extension]

  • Commercial office development generates 4 to 5 times more transit ridership than an equivalent amount of residential floor area

So we know that ridership is far below projections, and that employment has not increased as projected, and that employment brings more transit riders than condos and other residential development does.

What about Bloor-Danforth? That one is simpler. It's been open almost 50 years, and there are more tall buildings on Sheppard than there are on most of Bloor and Danforth (outside the core of course). I'm comfortable assuming it's below what would have been projected under similar planning approaches. Note that in this case ridership is higher due to the extensive bus feeder system, which is key throughout much of the TTC network.


So, there's some evidence and details and reading for anyone interested in discussing this stuff honestly.

I wholeheartedly support all modes of transit (bus, BRT, streetcar, LRT, subway, commuter rail) in appropriate places at appropriate times. I honestly explain the pros and cons of each when I facilitate public meetings with councillors, or when I meet with legislators in person. The 100% unpaid work I do, and the money I spend to print stuff to help make complicated topics more clear so others can decide for themselves what they prefer, is just because I kinda like this city and think it would be neat if more of it has better transit options. More options, improved transit, for more riders, sooner.

If you have any links to info or reports on these topics please feel free to point me to them. I really would love to see contradictory evidence, as the math and the facts matter more for rational transit planning than whether we build shiny thing A or shiny thing B.

if you have claims, but no links, you can hang on to those - I have plenty already.
c9: (streetcar)
Demands for removal of streetcars from Toronto, usually accompanied by anecdotes and/or falsehoods rather than facts, seem to originate slightly more often on the right. So I thought I'd investigate whether that made sense. Spoiler alert: no.

I wrote the following as an op-ed submission for the National Post, but since they passed on it (which I'm fine with, it's pretty wonky) I'm publishing it here.



Russell Kirk’s principles of conservatism argue for retaining Toronto’s streetcars, rather than the radical option of removal often found in some newspapers.

First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.”

Morals hold no relevance to transit mode, however a strong sense of right and wrong should encourage efficient public services. Streetcars carry as many as three or more buses.

“Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.”

Radical change brings with it larger risk, and inefficient learning curves. Streetcars have been in Toronto (and around the world) for generations, and we have learned much about what works and what does not. We have not yet put it all into practice, due to our veneration of the car and on-street parking.

“Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.”

Edmund Burke said the individual is foolish, but the species is wise. Over 250 cities worldwide currently use streetcar or tram systems (in mixed traffic, as opposed to modern LRT in exclusive rights-of-way), and nearly 50 of those streetcar lines began operation in the 21st century. I submit that these cities are neither outliers nor populated exclusively by fools.

“Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.”

Popularity should give way to probable long-term consequences. Removing streetcars would mean adding more, smaller vehicles to the road; hiring more high-cost drivers and maintenance workers; removing more on-street parking for buses to access the curb lane; but do nothing to improve capacity or speed for the nearly 300,000 daily riders of TTC’s streetcar system.

“Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.”

Reducing options and forcing square pegs into round holes is seen in conservatism as limiting. Not every purpose can be served by a small-capacity bus or a large-capacity subway, especially given the dramatic budgetary implications. We’ve seen in Toronto the time and cost risks inherent to depending on subway-building alone.

“Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.”

There is no such thing as utopia. Arguments that streetcars bring only negatives, and removal would bring only positives, are unworthy of consideration. Every transit mode has challenges: anywhere from the TTC’s multi-year early-shutdown projects to replace subway tunnel liners and rails, Vancouver’s recent SkyTrain evacuations, and the hundreds of bus accidents each year involving fixed objects such as streetlights and hydro poles.

“Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.”

Public transit, much like other public infrastructure, costs rather than lines the public purse, in all but the densest cities. Inefficiency through lower-capacity vehicles should be avoided to reduce required taxation and required property for storage of larger fleets.

“Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.”

A group should not needlessly or excessively restrain an individual. Since public transit provides freedom of movement, efficient transit rather than no transit is our goal. Subways to every door are neither affordable nor possible, and buses for all would increase our collective costs through labour, capital, and travel time. Those increased costs constitute involuntary collectivism.

“Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.”

Decisions should be made on data, evidence, and learning from mistakes, not due to angry repetition of magic words such as “subways,” “gridlock,” or “folks.”

“Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.”

A conservative should see value in both heritage and in new ideas. Requiring only old, or only new, robs us of potential benefits from the other, and therefore radical change is to be avoided, and overall benefits should be considered. Which is to say, that streetcar in front of you is helping scores or even hundreds of your neighbours, even when it annoys a smaller number of people in personal vehicles nearby.

Cameron MacLeod co-founded CodeRedTO, which advocates for all transit modes in appropriate locations.
c9: (Contrails)
Yesterday, a complete stranger offered me some coffee.

I was in an apartment building half-filled with people who don't speak the same language as me, half-filled with non-citizens, and about 98%-filled with people who care way more about the World Cup than why some downtown white boy is knocking on their door.

This complete stranger doesn't speak English. She was pretty old, and I'm betting she's not a Canadian citizen (yet?), and so when I knocked on her door she couldn't help with electing my friend to council, and she couldn't even understand why my friend would make a good councillor. So I said thank you and moved to the next door.

But she stayed in her doorway, and asked if we wanted a drink. When's the last time you offered a drink to someone who knocked on your front door?

---

My friend Idil Burale is running for City Council in Toronto. She's super awesome, well-informed, rational, friendly, smart, and would be a wonderful asset to her neighbours and the city as a whole. If I had to pick just one new person to make a councillor, it would totally be her. (sorry Luke, Peter, Keegan, Lekan, JP, Alejandra, Saeed, Alex, Dan... just if I had to pick only one!)

I went canvassing with Idil and some other volunteers yesterday. It was amazing.

---

Matt Elliott keeps track of council votes, and calculates who votes with Rob Ford most. That used to be a thing we worried about, even though today our Mayor is more of a media celebrity than a vote winner. But here's the thing: even recently, some important votes have been close.

Here is a list of significant items that passed by just one vote:
2011.CD1.9	Don't condemn fed govt cuts to immigration agencies
2011.EX3.4	Cut $75,000 from the Tenant Defence Fund
2011.MM8.6	Kill the Fort York Pedestrian/Cycling Bridge
2011.MM10.9	Reject two provincially-funded public health nurses
2011.EX10.1	Consider eliminating the Hardship Fund
2011.EX13.2	Start charging charities & churches for waste collection
2013.ST11.1	Keep Adam Vaughan off the Executive Committee
2013.EX36.18	Don't exempt charities from paying waste collection fees
2013.EX37.3	Don't allow council vote separately on a general property tax increase 
		and a Scarborough subway extension levy

I list these because the current councillor for ward 1 supported every item listed above. And those decisions affected residents across the whole city.

---

I've never canvassed before. I've never done anything for a candidate. Other than vote, and ranting online about bad candidates, I haven't done much else. I've never joined a political party, because I disagree with too many things in every party I encounter (and truth be told I'm not good at toeing a line unless I really believe it already). I was drawn to municipal politics because of the lack of political parties, which meant I could focus on one issue but not have to consider everything else a specific councillor might support. One inch at a time seems to make sense for me.

I always assumed volunteering for a political candidate would be really hard to do. Or maybe boring. Or maybe too political, when I value being (in my mind) independent and non-partisan. Plus I've never known any personally until this year.

I've had a really busy year (sold our house, bought a new house, started the adoption process with my husband, got promoted at work, traveled to Thailand, plus other things I've forgotten already). So it's been easy to be too busy to help out. Oh, I'll retweet things that seem important, but that's not a way to effect change, it's just a way to participate in a very small circle of more-affluent, more-privileged, more-downtown friends. Slacktivism is the term some people use - pretending to have an impact because it makes us feel better.

But finally I realized that if Idil didn't win, and all I did was sit in East York posting encouragement on Twitter, I would be really unimpressed at myself. I can't spend way too much time at work and at home complaining about bad decisions by city council, but really do nothing beyond complain - that's a Rob Ford tactic! He rants and moans and complains but doesn't offer any solutions. I can't let myself do essentially the same thing. I'm lucky in that I have a pretty progressive and rational councillor, but council votes affect everyone.

So yesterday I hopped on the TTC for 90 minutes to get to the top-left-corner of Toronto. I met up with Idil and five other volunteers, and we set off into a few apartment buildings to talk about Idil and her ideas.

It was a revelation, because it was fun!

It was really nice people who care about their community, talking to other really nice residents who never get asked their opinion and love their community too! In just 30 seconds I would mention a few things Idil wants to improve in that area like transit, housing, child care, community centres, fixing potholes, and residents would not slam the door. Not yell. Not ignore. They would smile. They would engage. They would frequently agree to VOTE for her.

After just 30 seconds, THEY WOULD HAND OVER THEIR NAME AND PHONE NUMBER TO COMPLETE STRANGERS AT THEIR DOOR.

It was like being on a different planet.

Canvassing was fun, interesting, and it was a tangible way to have an impact on my community. I can't wait to get back to Etobicoke North to do it again, and you should come with me. The more people the less time it takes (or the greater impact we have!), and the more cool people we all get to meet.

---

In 2000, the current ward 1 councillor lost by 97 votes.

In 2003, the current ward 1 councillor lost by 882 votes.

In 2006, the current ward 1 councillor did not run.

In 2010, the current ward 1 councillor won by 509 votes.
---

Yesterday, I personally knocked on 90 doors.

What I'm saying is you can make a difference.

So come on, let's go.

Seriously, message me - I'll take you along and you'll have a buddy!
c9: (Martini)
I submitted a formal complaint to the City of Toronto CFO and City Manager yesterday regarding their comments to media on the Mayor's inaccurate representation of budget changes:

10:25AM 2014-03-27

Dear Mr Rossini,

It is important that the civil service remain out of partisan political sniping, and that they provide quality advice and then implement council's wishes, regardless of personal opinions. I fear your personal opinions, or perhaps poor judgement, led to involving yourself in Toronto's mayoral election. I request that you please stop.

Mayor Ford uses large numbers, often fictitious or exaggerated, and it is important that everyone (including the Mayor and Council) sees you as an honest arbiter of *facts alone*. Your release yesterday puts that in doubt, and is doubly offensive in an election.

It is absolutely correct that there have been legitimate efficiencies and savings identified by staff this term, just as there were in the previous term - to similar degrees and amounts, as you are I hope aware. Commenting on term, and including misleading information, is really not acceptable. Just two examples:

1. Claiming that eliminating a user fee (the PVT) "saved the taxpayer $50 million" is false. It saved car owners $50 million, and while property taxes did not increase that year, TTC fares did by a significant amount, bringing similar revenue back to the city, and increased the overall cost to taxpayers.

2. Claiming both that TPS wanted even more than the increased budget they received so we saved money, and at the same time that user fees were raised $30 million (which taxpayers have to pay) so we saved money, is irrational and misleading. Both meant higher costs to city taxpayers.

I would request that you simply release detailed separate lists of actual budget changes, requested budget amounts, user fees added, and tax increases and decreases. Then candidates, elected legislators, media and the public can review all the information. I would also request that you refrain from trying to comment on large numbers stated by candidates. Trying to figure out how to comment neutrally is not working for either the CFO nor for the City Manager, and you are (accidentally I hope) misleading voters.

Please accept this complaint in the spirit intended: making the civil service stronger through greater public trust. You and your staff do good work despite honestly pretty insane council decisions at times. But it is dangerous to participate in the election, as you colour how future councillors treat your advice.

Sincerely,
Cameron MacLeod
[phone and address removed]

Attached: City of Toronto Complaint Tracking Form



3:48PM 2014-03-27

Hi Mr. McLeod, thank you for your email and for expressing your concerns.

Let me say categorically that I have no intention nor desire to involve myself in the election or partisan political matters. I agree 100% with your statement that the civil service must remain totally unbiased.

Please allow me to clarify a few matters on what transpired yesterday.

First and foremost, the information released yesterday is not new. I just provided information to Councillors which the media have had for quite some time.

The information in the Briefing Note more specifically Appendices 1, 2 and 3 was provided to the media on Budget Launch day back on November 25, 2013. We also referred to the "Budget Savings" component in our 2014 Budget Launch presentation to Budget Committee (please see slide 11 to the link provided below.). You will note the preliminary number in the slide for 2014 has changed since November 25th from $155 million to $147 million (reported yesterday) as adjustments / changes to the budget were made during the City's approval process.

http://www1.toronto.ca/City%20Of%20Toronto/Strategic%20Communications/City%20Budget/2014/PDFs/Presentations/FINALrevisedDec2.1_2014%20Operating%20Budget%20Launch.pdf

We have released various versions of the Briefing Note Appendices since November 25 most often in response to many media requests. But we had never formally provided it to Councillors. As this matter has already become an election issue, as a courtesy, I felt it was important that Councillors officially had this same information ie the Appendices, as well. So we also had to do a Briefing Note to Councillors to explain the Appendices.

I know the timing of the release of information to Councillors looks bad, but it is and was something that needed to be done. There was no partisan intentions on my part.

I understand that in your complaint you request additional information and details. We are in the process of collecting this information which may take about a week to assemble. I do want to point out that Appendix 2 of the Briefing Note does contain links which provide some source details to the various initiatives.

Thanks again for bringing your concerns to my attention.

Rob




4:07PM 2014-03-27

Dear Mr Rossini,

Thank you for your quick, detailed, and quite encouraging response.

My intent with my request was to suggest a better approach to releasing data, rather than to create a new project for your team - my apologies for any headache this may have caused. I completely understand that this would take time, and it's not my intent to create a five-alarm fire, but rather improve future documentation created by your team.

I hope that any future discussions on this can be presented in a more clear way, since by way of example, that $155M on slide 11 appears in no other location in your entire presentation. This is confusing to someone trying to learn the facts.

Would you be comfortable with this correspondence being posted online, or with portions being quoted? As I have posted online that I sent my letter, I would like to post your the full email chain if you don't mind.

Best regards,
Cameron MacLeod




4:13PM 2014-03-27

Hi Mr. McLeod, yes you can publish my response to your email. Don't worry about the extra work, others have requested similar info, so we will do it regardless.

Thx again and have a nice weekend

Rob





3:00PM 2014-03-31

Thank you for your note and submission, Mr. MacLeod.

This is to advise that upon consideration of your submission with the City Manager's Office, this complaint will be tabled as a Request for Information.

Formal complaints received on the template/form that you had filled out are treated with a different process and is reserved for customers who are dissatisfied with the service they received.

Nevertheless, we thank you for your comments and trust that the response from Mr. Rossini is satisfactory.

We will work on providing the information you requested.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Alex

Alex Mozo
Program and Strategic Support Manager
Office of the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer
City of Toronto
c9: (Tartan)
Groups of animals have various names - we all know herds and packs, but there are other fun ones too. A murder of crows, a colony of beavers, an intrigue of kittens, a cloud of grasshoppers. (more)

The other day, Astrid mentioned a goal that triggered something in my head.

twitter1

And then we were off. First, a few obvious ones, with what may have been too layered an attempt for @gordperks. Click and drag to see my explanations in case you don't know what the hell I'm on about. That's right I said H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS.

  • An expensing of Perks (as in "perqs" or "perquisites" are work things that you might expense, they might be expensive, plus Gord Perks is on the side of government spending to achieve rational goals)

  • A showcase of Vaughans (as in his past on TV, and/or loving the limelight)

  • A pipe of Fords (as in you can figure this one out)

  • A ledger of Carrolls (she was budget chief under Miller, and has a very strong grasp of the numbers)

  • A contradiction of Nunziatas (she calls for decorum as Speaker but then hypocritically reacts in biased ways)

  • A fence of Matlows (popularly called a fence-sitter, but in fact he does always end up deciding and voting)

  • A reversing of Parkers (reversed the Jarvis bike lane installation sneakily without consulting with KWT, said another bike item had merit recently and then immediately voted against it, etc)

  • A rage of Mammolitis (he's not on the cool end of the behaviour spectrum)

  • A cycle of Mihevcs (cyclist - this is where we start to get weaker)

  • A silence of Grimes (I think he's the one who never talks)

  • A routing of Stintzes (just a poor TTC Chair pun)

  • A sail of de Baeremaekers (flaps in the wind as public opinion changes? maybe? this was a stretch and needs improvement)

  • An apoplexy of Minnan-Wongs (the original one from Astrid)

twitter2

Also:
twitter3

  • @MonicaRooney: a conspiracy of Mammolitis

  • @sharkdancing: The embarrassment of Fords

  • @dd_toronto: A klaxon of Nunziatas

  • @dmrider: A bellow of Perruzzas

  • @accozzaglia: A filibuster of Perruzzas

  • @SylvanWalks: A bluster of Perruzzas

  • @christ: A bucket of Grimes

I started to meander as well. Not just #TOcouncil.

  • A fit of Dougs (since Doug Ford has a low-level fit when challenged on literally anything)

  • A deep sigh of Byfords (I can only imagine this is his most-frequent reaction to this city)

  • A repetition of Toronto Council clerks (I was remembering the repetitive calls for votes in the chamber)

  • A stroll of Micallefs (Shawn Micallef wrote a book called Stroll)

  • A patience of BradTTCs (since any TTC job requires intense patience, especially the "explaining things to the public" role)

  • A bridging of Millers (because he cancelled the bridge to YTZ, didn't build bridges much with his political enemies, but he did build bridges with other governments and organizations)

  • A token of Robinsons - oh, that’s out of date now (formerly 1/13th of the Executive Committee)

  • A hedging of Holydays (as deputy mayor, stuck trying to reconcile reality and the Mayor)

  • A banning of Filions (source of our short-lived and surprising plastic bag ban)

Next, I was asked how I would name a group of Astrids, and that led to me to think about specific #TOpoli people. Astrid didn't agree with my first draft ("a disruption of Astrids"), and upon reflection I found a better one.

  • A study of Astrids (always educational and from whom I learned intersectional)

  • A correction of Nevilles (who won't put up with your shitty marginalization or unawareness of privilege)

  • A snark of Heathers (of course for LadySnarksALot)

  • A beard of Brads (Brad has a beard, and tweeted something about it the other day. I was getting tired.)

  • A hat of Darens (CitySlikr wore a hat last time I saw him)

  • A cigar of Paikins (Oh Rosedale Club. sigh)

  • A pun of Proskows (Jackson has been known to pun his way through the day)

My second wind found (Astrid: "A recovery of Camerons!"), I thought up a few more.

  • A transit of Munros (SteveMunro.ca is the definitive data source for Toronto transit issues)

  • A soundbite of Milczyns (I feel like he's in front of the cameras instead of in the meetings maybe a bit often)

  • A peeping of Dales (sorry Daniel - I know you were not peeping in the mayor's backyard)

  • A hinting of Goldsbies (Jon loves his blind items)

From others:

  • @jm_mcgrath: A flight of McGraths?

  • @accozzaglia: An analysis of McGraths

  • @christ: A graph of Elliotts

Then a new one came to mind that I knew was the end of my road.

twitter4

Fin.
c9: (Default)
A letter I sent today to Councillors Lindsay Luby, Lee, Pasternak, and Robinson of Toronto City Council.

Councillor,


I am a homeowner and resident of Ward 29, and I walk, bike, drive, and take transit at various times depending on where I'm going.

I bike the Jarvis bike lanes regularly (more than twice a week), and they have made the street safer for me. Not just opinion: actual stats show this. http://cycleto.ca/news/2012/09/17/fate-jarvis-street-bike-lanes-hands-city-council

I also drive Jarvis regularly (more than once a month), and I find it behaves better with four standard-size lanes rather than five unsafe lanes that suddenly end and cause congestion partway down the street.

Finally, I am concerned about wasteful spending. As you are likely aware, removing the Jarvis bike lanes and restoring the unsafe middle lane will cost over $250,000. There is no need to spend that money on making the street more dangerous.

If you are asked to reconsider the issue of Jarvis bike lanes, I'd ask that you please do so. You're on Council to make Toronto better. Removing bike lanes, making a road more dangerous, and spending a quarter-million dollars unnecessarily... these are not making our city better.

If you disagree, I would appreciate a response as to why. I have reviewed the facts and history, and to me it is clear that the council made a mistake, and should reconsider.

Sincerely,
Cameron MacLeod
c9: (System report)
Note: this is just being posted for me in case I need it and for those poor long-suffering google searchers who can't find this solution easily as it's pretty well-hidden!

The problem: make an event in Outlook (single event or recurring), and invite people to it. Later, your synchronization app like Google Calendar Sync syncs everything up like it always does. However, the next time you want to modify that meeting (like add another person, or cancel it) you can't, because Outlook no longer believes you're the owner!

Note: THE FIXES BELOW ARE NOT MY CODE. DON'T ASK ME HOW TO CHANGE IT PLEASE. I don't know VBA. This is just to help you get a head start if you need it, and for my own reference.


The fix! )

c9: (Running)
I wanted to do a song from the other angle, but what ended up coming out was a lament about Jarvis. Oops!

On The Road Again - Willie Nelson (adapted)

On the road again -
Just can't wait to bike on the road again.
The Jarvis bike lanes making enemies not friends

And I can't wait to bike on the road again.
On the road again

Dodging sedans 'cause I'm never seen.
Hittin' brakes or else I'll never bike again

And I can't wait to bike on the road again.
On the road again -
Like a band of gypsies we bike down the highway
We're the best of friends.
Insisting that the cars stop turning in our way

And our way
is on the road again.
Just can't wait to bike on the road again.
When Sherbourne finishes it means that Jarvis ends

And I can't wait to bike on the road again.
On the road again

Like a band of gypsies we bike down the highway
We're the best of friends

Insisting that the cars stop turning in our way

And our way
is on the road again.
Just can't wait to bike on the road again.
Can't see a court case helping me make any friends

And I can't wait to bike on the road again.
And I can't wait to bike on the road again.
c9: (Default)
It's claimed that light rail that serves twice as many people and covers six times the distance is a slap in the face to Sheppard residents. Hardly. Sucks that the misleading information has led people to believe that anyone is trying to build a BAD transit system. But in that COMPLETELY JOKING VEIN...

Fuck You (Sheppard)

I see you tryin' to go downtown
With The Girl I Love And I'm Like,
Fuck You!
Oo, Oo, Ooo

I Guess The Range of The Rocket
Wasn't Enough I'm Like,
Fuck You!
And Fuck Her Too!
I Said, If I Was Richer, be underground wit' Ya
Ha, Now Ain't That Some Shit? (ain't That Some Shit?)
There's no Sheppard Treasure Chest
I Still Wish You The Best With A...
Fuck You!
Oo, Oo, Ooo

Yeah I Gotta Say, I Can't Afford A Subway,
But It Still Is The Better Way.
Guess He's LRT - I'm More Island Ferry,
But The Way You Commute Just Ain't Fair.

I Picture The Fool That Falls In Love With You
(She ain't no tunnel digger)
Well
(just Thought You Should Know N*gga)
Ooooooh
I've Got Some News For You
Yeah Go Run And Tell Your Big Brother!

(chorus)

Now I Know, That I'd Have To Borrow,
Beg And Steal And Lie / Mislead.
Trying To Keep Ya, Trying To Please Ya.
'Cause tunnels in suburbs just ain't cheap.

I Picture The Fool That Falls In Love With You
(She ain't no tunnel digger)
Well
(just Thought You Should Know N*gga)
Ooooooh
I've Got Some News For You
Don't hate or fight the needs downtown

(chorus)

Now Sheppard Sheppard Sheppard, Why D'you Wanna wasteful subway So Bad?
(so Bad, So Bad, So Bad)
You Tried To Tell the council But they Told you
"this Is for Premier Dad"
(or Jim, or Steve, it's your bad)
Uh! Whhhy? Uh! Whhhy? Uh!
Whhhy Sheppard? Oh! I Love You Oh!
I Still Love You. Oooh!

(chorus)


Not completely happy with it, but have to get back to work. The perspective flips from the Mayor to an opponent a little too randomly. Maybe it's a duet?
c9: (transit)
For Torontonians who take the Bloor-Danforth subway: you know that really old subway train with the vinyl seats and no air conditioning? Those are called “H4” trains, and the very last one of those goes out of service forever in about 20 minutes. Hooray!
The H4 cars were ordered in 1973. So smart transit decisions matter, cause you’re stuck with them for a few decades!
Over the next year or two, the TTC is getting lots of the new Toronto Rocket (“TR”) trains for the Yonge line, and the red T1’s are switching to Bloor, and the orange/brown H6s will disappear too! (they’re being sold to Nigeria)

New transit vehicles aren't everything the TTC needs, but they're something.
c9: (Toronto)
Yesterday, several media outlets received an email regarding the goals and activities of #CodeRedTO and the abilities of Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems. This email was misleading in some places, flat out incorrect in others. If you missed it, read the original message here. (What's CodeRedTO?)

The official #CodeRedTO response, sent this morning:


Dear all:

On Tuesday morning, you may have received an email that provides an alternate viewpoint to transit policy in the City of Toronto. CodeRedTO welcomes this debate and would like to present the following as a rebuttal to the arguments posed by Mr. Gutierrez.


CodeRedTO's motivations

"There is an ongoing attempt to revive the former Transit City plan as an alternative to building subways in Toronto, with its proponents getting attention to their cause in a series of articles and interviews by the Toronto media."

CodeRedTO's goal is not to revive Transit City but to ensure Toronto moves forward on an achievable, evidence-based rapid transit strategy. We are not advocating against subways: we're questioning the appropriateness of directing all committed funding and resources to needlessly bury the planned on Eglinton Avenue, ignoring the transit needs of northwest Etobicoke by cancelling a funded and approved LRT line, and halting construction of a LRT line on Sheppard Avenue East to spend over a year on studies that show a subway line is not affordable by the private sector, let alone the through public funding.


LRT plans and road space

"Contrary to what they say, Transit City is the wrong approach to solve Toronto's gridlock problem, since it is about taking existing, and scarce, road space in exchange for short trains going on their own right-of-ways, quite similar to current Toronto streetcars on St. Clair, or Spadina."

Approved LRT plans on Eglinton, Finch, and Sheppard, largely minimized the reduction of road space for cars. On each line, the number of general traffic lanes are maintained. This is possible because the surface sections of these LRT lines are in road right-of-ways that are 30 metres, or more, in width. As noted in yesterday's Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1120102--cohn-mcguinty-ford-lrt-deal-destined-to-collapse-under-its-own-weight), the Province is said to have offered expropriation on Eglinton Avenue East to actuallywiden the roadway to accommodate an extra general traffic lane, but Mayor Ford reportedly declined.

More importantly, transit lanes are arguably a more efficient use of road space than a general traffic lane. The throughput of people is much greater, given a two-LRT train could carry as many as 400 people. With auto occupancy rates in Toronto averaging around 1.1 persons per vehicle, that's over 350 fewer vehicles on the road, which would occupy much, much, more road space.


Congestion and travel speeds

"People use their cars mostly because they are able to travel in much shorter time compared to transit, and this happens everywhere in the city, except for downtown during rush hour."

First of all, we have to be clear that vehicular congestion is not just a "downtown" problem. Much of the congestion downtown can be traced back to inadequate transit and other travel options in automobile-dominated suburban neighbourhoods. We should also note that some of the worst congestion areas in the Toronto region are in the the most car-friendly places. If building wider roads and more highways is the solution, then Highway 401 would never be congested, with sixteen lanes of constantly free-flowing traffic.

"If a proposed LRT is expected to save 5 minutes compared to an existing bus route, that will still remain uncompetitive to the car. And that is "if", because streetcars on separated right-of-ways do not seem to go faster than buses in mixed traffic. Let me explain with the 5 cases below:

  • Taking the Queens Quay-Spadina streetcar LRT between Queens Quay/Bay and Spadina/Harbord (on its own right-of-way) takes 21 minutes and 15 stops, on a 4.3 km stretch.
  • Taking the St. Clair streetcar LRT between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street (on its own right-of-way) takes 19 minutes and 17 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.
  • Taking the Eglinton West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes also 19 minutes, but 19 stops, on a 4.4 km stretch.
  • Taking the Finch West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes 12 minutes and 18 stops, on a 4.5 km stretch.
  • And last, taking the Bloor subway between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes only 8 minutes and 7 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch."

The comparison of LRT plans on Eglinton/Sheppard/Finch to streetcars downtown is common, but wrong. With all transit technologies, travel time is largely determined by design. It is also inappropriate to compare downtown operating speeds with suburban operating speeds. For example, the Spadina Streetcar is "slow" by suburban standards, at an average speed of approximately 15km/h, but it is "fast" by downtown standards, when the comparative Bay bus (similar traffic conditions and activity) travels at an average of just 10 km/h.

Stop spacing is a major design consideration when it comes to speed. Mr. Gutierrez's comparisons largely prove this point: the more stops you have the slower a service runs. Spadina/St. Clair has stop spacing of about 200 metres. The LRT plans provide much wider stop spacing (approximately 500 metres) to increase travel speed and will have signal priority to reduce long stops at intersections.

The LRT lines on Eglinton, Finch, and Sheppard were all designed to achieve an average design speed of at least 25 km/h.

The average speed of the Bloor-Danforth Subway today is 30 km/h.
The average speed of buses on Eglinton and Finch during rush hour is 20 km/h.
The average speed of a car on the Gardiner Expressway during rush hour is 22 km/h.

There are ways to further increase the design speed of the LRT lines. Further increasing stop spacing, grade separating the LRT line at congested intersections (as was planned at Eglinton and Don Mills), and different approaches to signal priority are all approaches that can be investigated.


Debating the costs of rapid transit

"Therefore, it is very hard to justify Transit City's $167 million per kilometre expense (figure taken from Transit City proponent's website:www.savetransitcity.com). On the other hand, the inflated estimate of $348 million per kilometre for building subways, seems to be taken from the current construction of the 8.6 km long Spadina subway extension (at $2.63 billion, or $305 million per km). However, this line includes 6 expensive subway stations that, by themselves, will cost about $1 billion dollars. If they had designed real estate opportunities (commercial or residential) above these new subway stations, TTC would've had these stations paid with private funds, therefore reducing the public cost for this subway extension to $1.6 billion, or $186 million per km."

To assemble enough land to create a development parcel to finance a subway station is virtually impossible. Given expropriation requires "fair value" to be paid to the landowner and that any subway plan would dramatically increase the value of the land, the cost-benefit of this type of land assembly would be a tough sell. There's also the argument against the legitimacy of expropriating land by a municipality primarily for the purpose of developing the land for profit themselves.

A good point is made here: subway stations are expensive; even the most spartan and value-engineered station would cost at least $75-million, whereas the most elaborate surface LRT station would be a fraction of that cost, under $10-million. It's easy to see why: no need for elevators, escalators, extensive digging, or disruption to the surrounding community.

"Alternatively, we can build elevated mass transit systems like the city of Vancouver does, where we would keep our scarce road space unaffected. We can even do this at a lower cost compared to Transit City's LRTs, since Vancouver's 19.2 km long Canada Line, including its 16 stations, cost about $2 billion, or $104 million per km. This is less than 2/3 of Transit City's cost."

Elevated lines are an option and it should be investigated further as a potential design solution. However, Mayor Ford also refused this option on Eglinton Avenue East when it was proposed. Most definitely, lessons from the Canada Line should be considered, such as public-private partnership options, and extensive value-engineering. Do note that station costs for Canada Line are significantly lower because they're much smaller stations (50 metre length compared to 150 metres for a subway station, and 100 metres for an Eglinton LRT station).


Is the motivation misguided?

"To our advantage, Toronto has a series of corridors where we can put additional road capacity; and without having to destroy neighbourhoods, as it was done half a century ago in many cities in North America."

Additional road capacity is not a solution to Toronto's transportation woes, if we even have room for it. The motivation of providing enhanced rapid transit should not be to free up space for road widening and expansion. Why? Read about induced demand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_demand), which is an important concept. In short, increasing road capacity will only add more cars to our roads. Providing more transportation and mobility choice is the key to reduce our reliance on driving to get around the region. Driving when necessary, but not out of necessity.


Agreeing on a balance

"Toronto doesn't need a Transit City plan. Instead, we need a Transportation City plan that would improve transportation for all commuters. A balanced plan that serves transit riders, car drivers, walkers and bicycle riders, alike."

We finally agree here. We need a balanced plan. A subway-only plan is not balanced. Nor is a LRT-only plan.

A balanced plan means:
  • We can build subways where they make sense: providing York University with a much needed subway connection, extending the Sheppard Subway to the employment centre at Consumers Road or a downtown relief line where more transit capacity is needed to support the transit-dependent development in the core.
  • We should build LRTs where its flexibility is an advantage and capacity is appropriate.
  • We should ensure our local bus network remains well-funded and provides reliable, frequent service.
  • We should make it safe and convenient to walk, bike, and carpool to transit and other destinations.

Those are the makings of a balanced plan. Instead, we face the danger of following a random, untested collection of ideas that claims to be balanced, but is deliberately unachievable as to stall transit progress in a city starved for travel options.

We must move forward on solutions.

Laurence Lui
for CodeRedTO

c9: (Default)
"Every $1 invested in fluoridation saves approximately $38 in dental treatment costs, according to the C.D.C. The cost of a single filling averages $140, and that’s only the beginning. Through the years, a filled tooth is likely to require further repairs and maybe even extraction and replacement with a bridge or implant costing thousands of dollars.

None of this, however, has quelled the controversy over the safety of fluoridation, which dates back to the first studies in the 1940s. In addition to being labeled a Communist plot and an unconstitutional form of mass medication, fluoridation has been accused of causing a host of medical horrors: heart disease, cancer, Down syndrome, AIDS, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, mental retardation, osteoporosis and fractures, among others.

None of these supposed risks has ever been established in scientifically valid studies. The only proven risk, a condition called fluorosis, which results in white and sometimes brownish markings on the teeth from too much fluoride, rarely results from a normal intake of fluoridated water."


Read the full article here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/dental-exam-went-well-thank-fluoride/

(and city Councillors in Toronto and Calgary and elsewhere who like to cut costs by scaremongering about fluoride? I'd like you to shut it, please.)

Update: Learn more about fluoride history and controversy here: http://www.anzhealthpolicy.com/content/4/1/25 
c9: (Toronto)
A note from your host, @c_9: This email was sent to CodeRedTO.com, SaveTransitCity.com, 11 reporters from the National Post, 10 reporters from the Toronto Star, 4 reporters from the CBC, 2 at the Sun, 1 Global, 1 CTV, plus others.

I personally found it misleading in many cases and factually wrong in others. I have not responded to it yet. This is included only for discussion purposes, not for trashing the author. Personal attacks will be deleted.

If I personally respond, or if CodeRedTO sends an official response, I will post it to this blog as well.


Yes I still have a LiveJournal. Shush.


Dear all,

There is an ongoing attempt to revive the former Transit City plan as an alternative to building subways in Toronto, with its proponents getting attention to their cause in a series of articles and interviews by the Toronto media. Contrary to what they say, Transit City is the wrong approach to solve Toronto's gridlock problem, since it is about taking existing, and scarce, road space in exchange for short trains going on their own right-of-ways, quite similar to current Toronto streetcars on St. Clair, or Spadina. Transit City proponents argue that this plan would take hundreds or thousands of cars off the roads, by assuming that car trips are linear, when in reality they are not. People use their cars mostly because they are able to travel in much shorter time compared to transit, and this happens everywhere in the city, except for downtown during rush hour. If a proposed LRT is expected to save 5 minutes compared to an existing bus route, that will still remain uncompetitive to the car. And that is "if", because streetcars on separated right-of-ways do not seem to go faster than buses in mixed traffic. Let me explain with the 5 cases below:

- Taking the Queens Quay-Spadina streetcar LRT between Queens Quay/Bay and Spadina/Harbord (on its own right-of-way) takes 21 minutes and 15 stops, on a 4.3 km stretch.
- Taking the St. Clair streetcar LRT between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street (on its own right-of-way) takes 19 minutes and 17 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.
- Taking the Eglinton West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes also 19 minutes, but 19 stops, on a 4.4 km stretch.
- Taking the Finch West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes 12 minutes and 18 stops, on a 4.5 km stretch.
- And last, taking the Bloor subway between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes only 8 minutes and 7 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.

From the experiences above, we observe that LRTs on separated right-of-ways in Toronto do not move faster than buses in mixed traffic. Therefore, it is very hard to justify Transit City's $167 million per kilometre expense (figure taken from Transit City proponent's website: www.savetransitcity.com). On the other hand, the inflated estimate of $348 million per kilometre for building subways, seems to be taken from the current construction of the 8.6 km long Spadina subway extension (at $2.63 billion, or $305 million per km). However, this line includes 6 expensive subway stations that, by themselves, will cost about $1 billion dollars. If they had designed real estate opportunities (commercial or residential) above these new subway stations, TTC would've had these stations paid with private funds, therefore reducing the public cost for this subway extension to $1.6 billion, or $186 million per km. Also, if Toronto begins a large subway construction program, economies of scale would apply, which would further reduce the cost per km for building subways. Alternatively, we can build elevated mass transit systems like the city of Vancouver does, where we would keep our scarce road space unaffected. We can even do this at a lower cost compared to Transit City's LRTs, since Vancouver's 19.2 km long Canada Line, including its 16 stations, cost about $2 billion, or $104 million per km. This is less than 2/3 of Transit City's cost.

Having said all the above, Toronto commuters still remain without a plan to improve the road conditions in this city. And this is for the majority of Torontonians, who commute on private cars. Even if we execute Metrolinx's entire "The Big Move" plan, we would still have over 50% of commuters in Toronto travelling on private cars. Without increasing road capacity, but with the population increasing 43% in Toronto and its surroundings, in the next 20 years (as forecasted by Metrolinx), traffic gridlock will only get much worse. To our advantage, Toronto has a series of corridors where we can put additional road capacity; and without having to destroy neighbourhoods, as it was done half a century ago in many cities in North America.

Toronto doesn't need a Transit City plan. Instead, we need a Transportation City plan that would improve transportation for all commuters. A balanced plan that serves transit riders, car drivers, walkers and bicycle riders, alike.

Yours sincerely,

Jose Ramon Gutierrez


P.S.:  Links to recent articles about reviving Transit City, as referred above:
http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/21/code-red-gears-up-to-fight-for-a-better-way/
http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=184596
c9: (Cam Computing)
Putting this here for my later use, and for anyone else interested.

Have you ever wanted currency in Excel to be red when it's negative, so your bad budgeting mistakes leap out at you quickly? Well that's easy: just select the cell, hit Ctrl-1, and choose "Currency" on the Number tab. Pick one of the red options. No biggie.

The downside to the currency format though is it is a bit crowded - the currency symbol is mashed right against the number, and the number's mashed right against the margin. So some people prefer to select Accounting instead. It gives you great indenting and plus it replaces "0" with "-", which looks super-slick.

But it has a downside too! In accounting there is no red ink (which strikes me as ridiculous, btw). So how do you get the great arrangement of Accounting with the cheerful judgement of the colour red? Easy: just paste this in the Custom box:

_-$* #,##0.00_-;[Red]-$* #,##0.00_-;_-$* "-"??_-;_-@_-

This concludes today's tiny Excel tip which managed to become an entire blog post.
c9: (Contrails)
Turns out the transfer isn't happening, so all the stress can be replaced with calm, comforting regular life stress.
c9: (oh-fuck)
So my dear [livejournal.com profile] 1_2_ready_go is interviewing for a full-time job with his company in Tokyo. Eeeep!

He can speak Japanese - the job would be in English anyway - but I can't and have zero career prospects. Teaching English is always an option but would mean essentially stopping my career aspirations for a while. We're not sure whether this makes sense yet, but I know he really wants to go and won't go without me.

Needless to say, stress.
  • House: we could put stuff in storage and rent it out.
  • Job: I could teach English (dunno how long I would like that), act/model* (but only in English), or possibly work remotely for a company in Canada (but this only works short-term because I can't stay in the country more than 6 months in any 12-month period). We're not recognized as married for visa rules as far as I can tell, so even with his job visa I couldn't stay.
  • Cats: can't go with us, can't stay with house or friends or family due to heavy budget and care requirements and inability to not get eaten/run over. No solution here yet.


The end point of all this is a big question mark. No idea when/how/if. But luckily that doesn't prevent stress and ulcers from getting started right away.

Anybody know anyone working in Japan that needs an English-speaker?

[crickets]


* No seriously! Being a white guy is valuable, even if I'm not a svelte model-type. But there's a lot of competition in this area from other slackers hanging out in Japan. :)

c9: (Contrails)
This weekend I happened to be near Parc Downsview Park with some time to kill, and I decided to try and find the Canadian Air & Space Museum, as I had never been. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until it hit the news a couple months ago, when its landlord (the federal government) served them with an eviction notice. Apparently their site is slated for redevelopment as a 4-pad hockey rink.

Members and volunteers at the museum are understandably upset about this. Hurting for funding and volunteers, and now losing their home, they're fighting back with letters to decision-making politicians and influencers, a petition, and an information campaign to help people realize what's happening. They even got some help from Harrison Ford! One challenge: they compete, in a sense, with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, plus other aeronautical museums out in western and Atlantic Canada on and off military bases. All of these museums have amazing stuff to offer and funding needs, so it's very hard to figure out whether they all should be kept.

Avro Arrow, Canadair Regional Jet 700-series, and de Havilland Beaver

One thing the Canadian Air & Space Museum has that none of the others have is an historic building at 65 Carl Hall Road that hosted some amazing elements of Canadian aerospace history. It's the original 1929 home of de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd -- maker of the Dash-8 and many many more incredible aircraft. This building and others beside it (long gone now) were home to warplane and engine design and assembly, even satellites were built here. The Downsview site was hugely important in Canada's war efforts (and therefore Britain's too), and the building itself is really in good shape due to good construction. Sadly, the museum's funding is almost nonexistent -- over $100k behind in rent, for example, though the situation was improving when the eviction notice came. When I drove up there was an engine part sitting outside in the rain - a big problem for any museum that has more history to display than it has space to store.

I can't say for sure that I believe that building should be saved. It would be easiest for the museum, and Downsview has a LOT of space -- surely a hockey rink could be located across the parking lot, for example. Being forced out would result in the loss of several amazing pieces of history that would be damaged in the move, and if no storage could be located who knows what could happen to the many one-of-a-kind mid-restoration aircraft? It's scary to contemplate the death of a museum.

If a new location and sufficient storage space, and stable funding, were to be found, then I'd be OK with them changing locations. The building holds great meaning, but if the choice is die a slow death there or potentially grow and find new visitors elsewhere... it's all awful timing since the new York University subway extension will have its first new subway station only a couple hundred metres away. So many potential visitors! But that makes the land worth even more as something else of course.

Without official heritage designation, 65 Carl Hall Road is at risk. The locks have been changed, and a lockbox sits on the front door, but there are still volunteers and staff inside maintaining the museum. When I found it Sunday morning I tried the door just in case it was open. It wasn't, but a volunteer quickly ran to the door and let me in. He explained that the museum was closed to the general public by order of the landlord, but that members were still welcome... would I like to become a member? It took be about 3 nanoseconds to decide that I would like that very much indeed.

The gift shop helped me with my heavy wallet...

I'm so glad I went. I spent over two hours wandering the museum, photographing as much as I could. I knew that the chances of getting back to the museum soon, or ever, were slim. My photographs and captions can be viewed in this Facebook gallery. Sorry, non-Facebookers, but it appears to be accessible to all even logged out.

All photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151021988855593.767591.610245592&type=1&l=3e576d5ff0

I highly recommend a visit. Buy your membership online, throw in a small donation maybe, and head up there soon! TTC bus route 101 will take you right there from Downsview (soon to be Sheppard West) station. Let me know if you want somebody geeky to join you - I'll clear my calendar!

August 2015

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