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Variety Village still hasn't got a bus stop

by Don Peat
City Hall Bureau

Transit service to Variety Village is on the TTC’s agenda next week but a recommendation to put a bus stop there is not.

When the new TTC commission meets for the first time on Wednesday they will receive an information report updating commissioners on the two decades of decisions not to give Variety Village a bus stop outside their front door.

TTC chairman Karen Stintz said she “absolutely” favours a bus stop placed outside the Danforth Ave. site.

“The TTC was pretty open to having the issue revisited,” she told the Sun.

Lynda Elmy, Variety Village communications director, said they’re hopeful a solution can be reached, adding they’ve lost members over the years because they don’t qualify for WheelTrans and there is no TTC stop outside.

Commissioners will hear a deputation at the meeting from new councillor Gary Crawford, whose ward includes Variety Village.

“I’m looking at trying to get this done yesterday,” Crawford told the Sun Friday. “I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this.”

The Scarborough councillor added a front page story in the Sun about the issue is helping speed up a solution.

“(Putting a bus stop there) is a good thing,” Crawford said. “It’s going to benefit some of our neediest residents.”

Given that Mayor Rob Ford petitioned the TTC earlier this year about the bus stop issue and that he is emphasizing customer service, the bus stop arriving outside the site seems to make sense.

“What better customer than the people in need at Variety Village?” Crawford asked.

Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, whose ward is next door to Variety Village and worked there for a time, said she supports a bus stop.

“All they are asking for is a bus stop…they do phenomenal work,” she said. “We need to do it.”

TTC commissioners will also vote on awarding a $161.5 million tender to build a second platform at Union Station and improve the concourse and a $51.3 million contract to build a streetcar maintenance and storage facility at Lake Shore Blvd. and Leslie St.

Newly-minted commissioners will also consider a confidential report on leasing new space for its revenue operations department after battling a weight problem at their current location since at least 2008.

The Sun reported two years ago the TTC was battling the bulge created by the heavier toonie-like tokens and the loss of paper tickets.

At that time, the sorting room floor in the revenue building was starting to crack under the extra tonnes, although the TTC maintained it was still safe inside. TTC spokesman Brad Ross said the tokens aren’t all to blame for the extra weight, as there are more tokens weighing the floor down but there is also more cash fare to process due to the loss of adult paper tickets.

Ross was tight-lipped on what the move would cost or where the new building would be located.

Stintz said she would rather see the commission deal with modernizing its fare payment methods before moving its token counting house.

“We need to make a decision on the bigger issue of the fare issue,” Stintz said.

She expects that decision to be made early on in the New Year when the TTC examines request for proposals on the open payment system and compares them to the province’s PRESTO card option.

“Modernized payment is overdue,” Stintz added.