City Council has delayed piggybacking an additional $30 million worth of costs on the St. Clair private right-of-way project after councillors complained over how these costs were added at the last minute, with little consultation. According to the Toronto Star, the proposal to bury hydro wires, and reconstruct the sidewalks will now have to compete with other city-wide projects. The decision does not affect the current budget for track reconstruction, new safety islands, turning lanes and altered intersections. The St. Clair project can go forward once the legal challenges have been resolved.
ROW Opponent Michael Walker lead the challenge, and complains that the project’s current cost of $65 million is still “gold plated transit” that seems senseless compared to the lack of transit coverage in Scarborough and northern Etobicoke. He has a point that these areas need improved public transit, but his figures on the St. Clair project are wrong. Cancelling the St. Clair private right-of-way project won’t save the city $65 million. The tracks on St. Clair Avenue are badly in need of replacement, and unless Michael Walker is proposing removing streetcars from St. Clair, that’s a budget item that can’t be avoided. The cost to upgrade the current tracks to private right-of-way is only a few million more than what the TTC has already budgeted to replace the streetcar tracks in the first place.
Toronto Dreamers Release uTOpia
Editors Jason McBride and Alana Wilcox of Coach House Books have recently released an anthology of essays entitled uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto. Inside, thirty-four Torontonians (or former Torontonians, in my case) were asked to write about their home town, their dreams for the future and the challenges they see on the way. The result is an interesting collection of thought provoking pieces, from a serious proposal about glass-enclosed elevated bikeways, to a history of guerrilla gardening, and where have all the subways gone. Authors include Adam Vaughn, Shawn Mcallef and Ninjalicious, and there is a foreword by mayor David Miller.
I have an essay in this book describing the last thirty years of subway construction (or lack thereof). It was an honour to be included in this book’s lineup, and I feel somewhat overshadowed, in fact. I spend far too much time going over what’s gone wrong in this city, and it’s refreshing to read on what others think could go right. This book will appeal to future-thinking Torontonians and urban planners. It is available from Coach House Books for $24.95 CDN and at better bookstores in the city (ISBN: 1552451569).
Finally, I would like to thank those people who voted Transit Toronto the Best Business Blog at the 2005 Canadian Blogging Awards. The victory seems a little odd to me, but the results are decided by various blog readers, and who are we to question their wisdom. I guess you could call this a business blog, in that navigating the TTC is good for business in Toronto, but in any event I am honoured by this award. Congratulations to the other nominees as well, and thanks to Robert McClelland for running these awards so well this year.