Monday, April 12, 2010

Their vision

Toronto Mayor David Miller, Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, and TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone have brought much needed vision and innovation to the City of Toronto. Despite all of the whining from irrational, reactionary right-wingers, who seem to believe their world is coming to end because of modest tax increases and the indiscretions in Chairman Giambrone's personal life. Well, Mayor Miller included those modest tax increases in his 2006 platform. Not only did he not shy away from the issue nor lie about it (getting re-elected, then announcing tax increases, ie McGuinty), but Miller was re-elected in 2006 with nearly 60% of the popular vote. So he told the truth, was honest and was rewarded for it. And in regards to Giambrone's indiscretions, well it's awfully hypocritical of the masses to engage in puritanical hysteria when not only is Giambrone not even married, nor is it any of their business, but we live within a North American popular culture that seems to celebrate and champion all matters of sex and sexuality. It's funny because in Europe, they have funny notions about the private lives of public figures: they think they should be private. And of course the other most recent knock against Giambrone is that he used funds from the $50,000 city councillors are alloted for their office budgets, for taxis. The reactionaries were up in arms about this. Well I'm sorry, but when you can't be late for constituency meetings, council meetings, TTC meetings, and other city priorities and commitments, in rush hour in downtown Toronto, realistically you can't always hop on a streetcar. Or else you'd be late for those meetings and the Toronto Star will crucify you further.

Regardless, the days of Mel Lastman, John Tory, Tom Jacobek, the lack of any vision, corruption, backroom closed-door dealings and selling off city land to condo developers are long gone.

On top of a $350 million dollar budget surplus, balanced budgets, restoring the city's finances, killing the vastly unpopular bridge to the Toronto Island Aiport, winning the bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, providing the Metropolitan Toronto Police with their largest operating budgets ever, initiating and supporting Nuit Blanche, the recent report from Moody's Investors Service that Toronto remains a great and safe place to invest due to low debt and continuing large investment within the city, and championing massive public transportation expansion through the vastly popular Transit City, these three (amoung others) have a sound and exciting vision for Toronto which will hopefully unfold in the next ten years.

Public Transportation:

The city has bought 360 new subway cars (60 train sets) to replace existing subway cars and increase capacity by 9% in 2010. 390 new buses have also been purchased, which will improve service immensely by 2015. The current and on near-death streetcars from 1979 will be replaced with 204 low-floor, accessible Light Rail Vehicles. Construction of the Sheppard East LRT Transit City line will continue. The Easier Access program involves the construction and enhancement of accessibility features, which will make the TTC fully accessible by 2025. The construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor from Downsview Station to York University will continue, as well as a bus terminal at Kipling Station, and the Union Station Platform upgrade.

Starting later this year will be the design, engineering and construction of the main station areas for the six underground stations included in the 8.6 km Spadina Subway Extension, from Downsview Station to the Vaughan Corporate Centre. The installation of state-of-the-art signaling systems on the Yonge-University-Spadina line, to increase train capacity by allowing trains to run more frequently and closer together, will continue.

Public Works and Infrastructure:

800 km of roads will continue to be maintained, with the rehabilitation of 150 bridges and structures, and the minimization of life-cycle costs of assets over a ten year period. The termination of the Dufferin Street Jog will be completed to create a permanent intersection. The Six Points Interchange will be redeveloped to simplify the road network, to create a more attractive and safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists, and improve access to the Kipling Subway Station.

Emergency Services:

The construction of new police stations, including 11 Division by 2011, 14 Division by 2012, and a Property and Evidence Storage facility by 2013. The radio communication system for Police, EMS and Fire Services will be replaced. The complete restoration of Beaches Heritage Fire Hall, the development of Station D at Midland and Eglinton, and acquiring equipment for heavy urban search and rescue purposes. The redesign of the Central Ambulance Communication Centre and the construction of four new ambulance stations at Bathurst and York Downs, Chaplin Crescent, York-South Weston, and Pape Avenue.

Public Spaces:

The revitalization of Nathan Phillips Square

The revitalization of Union Station:

The redevelopment of St. Lawrence Market North:

Also included is the construction of the Fort York Visitors Centre, the revitalization of the Guild Inn and the John Street Roundhouse, improving BIA streetscapes, providing infrastructure for repairs and maintenance of the historical buildings at Black Creek Pioneer Village, the ongoing waterfront regeneration efforts through parkland and habitat creation along the waterfront, the development of the Central Waterfront Public Realm and the Regional Sports Complex, and finally the development of the West Don Lands (construction of Toronto Community Housing affordable housing and first market development, substantial completion of Don River Park, and the completion of the flood protection land form) and East Bayfront (the construction of the George Brown College campus, the completion of Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Parks, and the private development of Parkside and to secure a development partner for Bayside) precincts.

The Environment:

The Green Fleet initiative to lower emissions and save fuel, using innovative green technology will continue, as will the environmental rehabilitation through the Toronto Remedial Action Plan at Don, Rouge, Highland, Etobicoke-Mimico, Humber watersheds, and along the waterfront. The construction of 380 km of bicycle lanes, 140 km of shared roadways and 80 km of off road paths throughout the city, and the completion of the Fort York Pedestrian Bridge. The advancement of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions through projects such as energy retrofits, investment in renewable energy and loans to the MASH sector. The HVAC and Electrical Upgrade at Old City Hall which will connect to Enwave's deep lake water cooling system.

Community and Recreation Services:

The renovation of the York Woods, Mount Dennis and Fairview Libraries. The installation of the Self Service Check-out System with no operating costs in twenty-two libraries to increase hours of operation by 67.5 every week. The expasion of the Malvern District Library. The construction of the Scarborough Centre Neighbourhood Library, and the renovation and revitalization of the Toronto Reference Library.

The construction of four child care centres: Chester Le Child Care Centre, St Andrew Child Care Centre, Thorncliffe Park Child Care Centre, and Enderby Child Care Centre. The retrofit and furnishing of nine new/expanded offices to manage the increased social assistance case load of 100,000. The redevelopment of Kipling Acres (Phase 1) to meet provincial compliance standards. The construction of Edithvale Community Centre and the Warden Corridor and Railway Lands Community Centre. The construction of new waterplays at the O’Connor Community Centre, Warden Woods Community Centre and Totts Tot Lott Park. The construction of Oriole Park playground, Earl Bales Park playground and sensory garden and Regent Park pool. Safety retrofits on two Toronto Island ferries.

The revitalization of Regent Park:

The new infrastructure will include beginning work on the Main Park and Community Centre, the construction of the Regent Park Child Care Hub and the Nelson Mandela PS Renovation project.

The infrastructure for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which will include a new aquatics/athletics facility at the U. of T.'s Scarborough College, retrofitting swimming facilities at Etobicoke Olympium, upgrades at Birchmount and Centennial Parks, a Cycling Road Route, and the preparation of Nathan Phillips Square for use as a festival site.

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