More Congestion Is Coming, Removal of Bike Lanes on Woodbine not the Answer

Beach Metro News, Toronto, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The call by some to remove the new bike lanes on Woodbine Avenue will not get rid of traffic congestion in the long run. With an annual population growth of 1.6 % per year, (Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (2014-2019)  https://tinyurl.com/yagzmmwn in five years Metro Toronto adds another Hamilton, Ontario to its population. According to Metrolinx’s recently released Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan https://stevemunro.ca/2017/09/16/the-next-big-move-i-overview/ projections indicate that auto use will continue to be the choice of most commuters – still in the mid 70% range by 2041 – with those choosing transit remaining at around 15%. What does this mean for Woodbine Avenue? It means that even with the removal of the bike lanes and restoration of four lanes in some places, Woodbine will still be overwhelmed by car traffic in a very few years. What needs to be done? The only solution is to diminish the numbers of cars, particularly within the city. How can this be done? When one realizes that most cars on all of our roads and highways are single occupancy vehicles, meaning that only the driver is in the car, a solution makes itself plain. Governments, eg. Ontario – have already realized this when they opened the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle – two or more occupants) lanes on some 400 highways and the QEW. My personal observations indicate that there are still very few cars taking advantage of HOV lanes. When will enough citizens and courageous politicians suggest that the solution to car congestion is to make it illegal for anyone in the city to make a trip in a car by themselves. A trip by one person would of necessity be made by transit, taxi, cycling or walking. If every car now using Woodbine, during rush hours, had two occupants instead of one, congestion would be cut in half. The math is simple. The answer is car pooling and car sharing. As a society interested in curbing environmental damage and climate change caused by so much car traffic and road building, what is stopping us?

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Re: Why is Car2Go allowed to park overnight on my street? Beach Metro News, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

 

Dear Editor:

My response to this question is that Car2Go should be allowed to park on our streets overnight because they are providing a valuable service – reducing parking and road gridlock.

I believe that Toronto City Council should allow Car2Go to purchase parking permits for our streets.

My reasoning is as follows: Upon us moving to Toronto and living in the East End for the past thirteen years, my son’s family and my wife and I have shared one car between us, mostly for out of town trips. When we both needed a car, one of us rented from a car rental company that is within walking distance of both of us. We finally ended that arrangement in June, 2017 when the shared car became too expensive to repair. I immediately signed up with Car2Go – just using my iPad. We still obtain full day rental cars from the company we have always used. I read many years ago that every auto purchased, requires eight parking spaces – one at home, one at work, one at the mall, etc. Therefore, my son and I together have released up to 16 parking spaces. Car2Go’s literature says that each Car2Go vehicle represents 11 cars (people can use Car2Go as their second car). I’m not shilling for Car2Go but they represent one step away from Uber taxi service – Car2Go is a cheaper self-driving taxi. You can use your smartphone (or the older magnetic card) to open one and drive away. A map on your smartphone or iPad shows where they are parked in your neighbourhood.

A further step away in a few years will be ‘self-driving’ taxi service. It is hoped that these developments will discourage the purchase and use of many private autos on our streets and be a source of reduced road and parking gridlock, along with new TTC transit, separated bicycle lanes and safer sidewalks for walking.

Therefore, for these reasons I am in favour of Car2Go being allowed to park on our streets.

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Reply to “I’m a TTC Fare Evader”, NOW September 21-27, 2017

 

I don’t agree with Darth Fare Evader the scofflaw in terms of breaking the law in cheating the TTC but I do agree with a lot of what he said is behind his actions.

There are many good reasons for ‘free fares’ on the TTC (and maybe eventually on GO Transit) and as he pointed out, other cities are providing some free fare routes or special times for free fares as does the TTC on New Years Eve – to save lives!

The present fare systems including the new Presto actually serve as a barrier to people’s use of transit. The poorest among us are the hardest hit as Darth said. And the rollout of Presto is costing us all $millions. How will the easily breached Presto gates even be monitored when there is no-one in the ticket-booth?

Unfortunately according to the latest released Metrolinx $30 billion Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan, there is almost no anticipated auto traffic decline in the GTHA by 2041 because it will still be possible for drivers to beat transit times to and from work.

The only solution is to either make driving prohibitively expensive which is politically unpalatable or make transit so cheap – ‘free fares’ – that people will flock to it. ‘Free fares’ does necessitate paying for transit out of general tax revenues but there would be a big saving when Presto or ticket-takers are no longer needed. Why not ‘free fares’?

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To Carolyn Bennett, Federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs – Please Act On Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis

To Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs; Hon. Jane Philpott, Federal Minister of Health; Hon. David Zimmer, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs

Dear Minister Bennett:
I spent yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, August 9) sitting with the good people at the ‘Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis Vigil’ at INAC, 25 St Clair Ave E, Toronto.
Their concern which I share is over the high number of Indigenous Youth suicides that are occurring, especially in northern indigenous communities.  Just over the past few days there have been even more reported youth suicides in these communities. The media reported the terrible news of additional Indigenous youth suicides just this week. See:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-indigenous-suicide-crisis-1.4239790 and http://www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/2017/08/09/toronto-advocates-want-action-on-indigenous-youth-suicide.html
The people I met with said that they are upset that you and other government officials have said that you will ‘meet again’ over this crisis … in the Fall! I agree with them that this is not good enough. Action is needed right now by the Governments of Canada and Ontario to prevent further youth suicides.
I agree that the conditions causing the hopelessness that leads young people to commit suicide are complex, but they have much to do with the way these northen communities have been treated – as second or third class citizens in a wealthy Canada.
As you know, Cindy Blackstock of The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has been calling for the Canadian government to honour the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) that ordered the government of Canada to end the racial discrimination against First Nations Children by immediately increasing payments to these children to equal payments made by Provincial governments to all non-Native children. Cindy Blackstock said in part:
The quasi-judicial tribunal initially found in January (2016) that the government had been discriminating against First Nations children in its delivery of child welfare services on reserve. Two subsequent rulings ordered the government to update its policies and procedures to comply with its original findings.

“You have a group of children who the federal government consciously decides are getting less public services than every other group in the country,” Blackstock said. “They are racially discriminating against them . . . as a matter of law and they are failing to comply with legal orders. That, to me, is pretty clear cut.”  See:  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/09/20/trudeau-government-on-notice-in-first-nations-child-welfare-dispute.html

To my knowledge (please correct me if I’m wrong) at this point the Trudeau government has still refused to abide by the order of the CHRC. This makes Trudeau’s words about Reconciliation with First Nations ‘false news’ as far as I’m concerned.
I have lost patience with governments at all levels that still make our First Nations neighbours live in Third World conditions that contribute to the Indigenous youth suicides we are seeing continue. These living conditions are not inevitable. Please listen to the people at the Vigil, mostly mothers themselves who understand how awful it is to lose a child, especially when it is a suicide because of hopelessness.
We must all do better. Please act now!
I would like a reply regarding actions you are taking to make the lives of Indigenous people in northern communites better.
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Have Canadian citizen Dr. Hassan Diab released from unjust detention in France

Dear Ministers of the Government of Canada and my MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith:
This is a copy of my message to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau:
A friend of mine, Dr. Hassan Diab of Ottawa, Ontario, former professor at the University of Ottawa,  was extradited to France and has been jailed there for 30 months based on allegations his lawyer calls the classic recipe for a wrongful conviction. French investigating judges have ordered him released six times, and, in a move that is seen as unprecedented, each time the French Court of Appeal overturned all release orders at the prosecutor’s behest. (see https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/monitor/no-evidence-no-problem )
I have joined other Canadians in a ‘chain-fast’, a one day fast (or partial fast) from eating, during Ramadan, while focusing on ways to have Dr. Hassan Diab given true justice and released immediately.
Today, June 3, 2017, I ask you, the  Prime Minister of Canada, to use the full weight of your office to demand the immediate release of Dr. Hassan Diab from custody in France and bring him home to his family and many friends. Thank you for what you are able to do. I would appreciate a reply regarding actions you take on behalf of Dr. Hassan Diab.
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Thaw the Budget (2017); NO Freeze

Dear Members of the Toronto City Council Executive Committee:

I am writing to ask you not to freeze the 2017 City budget at 2016 levels. As you realize a ‘freeze’ actually means a decrease in spending on budgetary items including important social services – due to inflation.
I am part of a grass-roots group of people called Commitment 2 Community who meet from time to time with Torontonians who are living on the economic margins of this wealthy city. I and my church – Danforth Mennonite Church, 2174 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, have supported all of the meetings and activities leading up to the City Council adopted Poverty Reduction Plan. We continue to advocate for more revenues to be allocated to this plan so that it can carry out its mandate to reduce grinding poverty among our neighbours, including children and their families. We also signed the recent open letter urging Council to reject a budget freeze, and instead fully fund the city’s commitments to improve affordable housing, transit, child care and reduce poverty.
I made a deputation at the budget sub-committee meeting held at the East York Civic Centre in January 2017. My main point was that we need to move away from ‘user fees’ to fund most needs including community centre programs, TTC and many more. Even working families cannot afford ever rising user fees. I included the proposed highway tolls put forward by Mayor Tory at the time as a unaffordable user fee for many people.
What I advocated for then and still do, is that the City and even the Province and Federal governments, must find a way to access wealth. Many home owners in Toronto are now holders of undreamed of wealth – in the value of their properties. Others have wealth in investments of various kinds. Canada’s capital gains tax, taxes only 50% of investment gains and 0% from the sale of Primary residences when sold. Canada does not even have an inheritance tax. There is huge potential for small wealth taxes that would allow a necessary increase in the City budget. There is huge economic inequality between those who have more wealth than they can ever spend and our neighbours who essentially have nothing.
All of the research done on economic disparity tells us that where there is more equality there is greater health, less crime and more happiness in general. Isn’t this what we want? Therefore City Council must find a way to access even a small portion of the wealth that exists in Toronto.
Please find a way to ’thaw’ the 2017 budget as we ’thaw our hearts’ and make life bearable for all of our neighbours.
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“Vimyism” – A Discussion Thread with current articles about the ‘Vimy Myth’ by Conscience Canada Members – http://www.consciencecanada.ca  

 

April 10, 2017 – “I don’t know about you but I’m quite disgusted with the Vimy coverage even by CBCTV. It is one thing to remember, but quite another to voice no criticism directed at the 1914 political leaders and generals who had no imagination other than to order bright young men out of the trenches into the German meat-grinder and of course vice-versa. I wonder what kind of world we would have had with the contributions of these young individuals; would there have been a WWII? How can we celebrate the bravery of young men, when we now realize that the then enemies are now our friends and allies. What a damn shame and waste I say.” M.

“Murray, I couldn’t agree with you more!  I too have been disgusted with the coverage of the Vimy anniversary.  As you say, not a word about the stupidity of the war.” E.

“There was one CBC interview with a professor from out West who has written a book countering the myth that Vimy made Canada what it is today.  She argued that many other negotiations and arrangements helped shape the country but that since debates aren’t as flashy as wars, that the 100h year celebration of  Canada leaned too heavily on Vimy for a rationale.” D.

“There was another interview this evening (April 10, 2017) on CBC Radio One’s ‘As it Happens’ with Jamie Swift, journalist and lecturer at Queen’s University – co-author (with Ian McKay who holds the L.R. Wilson Chair in Canadian History at McMaster University) and is the coauthor with Jamie Swift  of The Vimy Trap or, How We Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Great War. http://tinyurl.com/lm28moc 

The further you go from the battle, from the war, the more it appeals to this nationalistic, patriotic bit of mythology fantasyland, as far as I’m concerned,” Swift, a journalist and lecturer at Queen’s University, told ‘As It Happens’ host Carol Off.

He calls the phenomenon “Vimyism.”

He says that contrary to uniting Canadians (only English descended ones) it nearly tore Canada apart – the debate over conscription took place right after Vimy.”

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-monday-edition-1.4064013/does-vimy-ridge-battle-really-mark-the-birth-of-a-nation-historian-debunks-vimyism-1.4064016

“Another similar opinion piece is here”

Vimy was a triumphant battle, but it was hardly the ‘birth of a nation’

http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/vimy-birth-of-a-nation-1.4060855

M.

“There was a very useful article on Vimy in the Hamilton Spectator, April 5, 2017 by Ian McKay (see above), who cowrote ‘Warrior Nation’.” http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/7227412-honour-vimy-s-memory-not-its-mythology/  W.

“I have been not so quietly swearing at the TV this week. My grandfather died at Vimy. I have seen his marker. I toured the memorial. That experience did not swell me up with pride, rather left me overcome, dumb and speechless. And I know the effects on my father growing up without a father.

As for the birthplace of nationhood – here is a better story that should be at the top of the news:

After Vimy: Did Canada really find its independence in 1922 battle it refused to fight? – Politics – CBC News, by Evan Dyer”

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/politics/chanak-affair-canada-britain-vimy-independence-1.4061740

H.

“All good and important comments.  Will someone —many ones— take on the job of informing or sending similar notes to the various CBC programmes, to the press, to our government…  We need to broaden the audience of a peaceful message. Thank you all,”

B.

“Your point on broadening our audience is well taken. I was struck by a short clip of a student at the Vimy “celebrations” talking about the sacrifice of our soldiers in protecting our freedom. Her words were so obviously repeating what she had been fed by the military-political propaganda machine. How do we change the story? Today’s young people are a tough audience. How do we reach them? How do we make our message resonate with them?”

H.

See also: Vimy Ridge: Birthplace of a nation – or of a Canadian myth? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/battle-of-vimy-ridge-first-world-war/article34515113/

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