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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered


  1. wtf? why are we spending such copious public funds on a private airline? We ask for quasi-stimulus funding for streetcars, and we get sneered at. A private company wants quasi-stimulus (and well passed the due date) funding, and both the upper levels of governemnt are flocking to it!

    I mean, I’m sure the MPs involved would all love the convenience, but, well, I thought we had conservatives in power, dammit!

  2. BTW, the tunnel will not allow access to the island beaches, etc. Because of safety regulation, there’s no way to exit from the island airport onto the rest of the island.

  3. re: Giambrone’s TTC test bed…

    I wish… If that were the case, the Lansdowne bus might be somewhat staggered, instead of five coming at once, and then none for another 20 minutes. I enjoy the frequency factor, but efficient it is not.

    I also find it interesting that there are a distinct lack of shelters for streetcar stops here. The most notable absence being half a block from his office at Brock.

  4. At Mississauga International (ahem… Toronto Pearson), they have a tunnel under runway 15L/33R which in theory could be duplicated at CYTZ to permit passage. Alternatively, with some infill the island could take on a curve around the eastern stopway (fenced and with an EMAS surface).

    However, I think if we’re not having an western bridge we should have an openable eastern one and extend the Cherry streetcar project across the Gap onto the island to give year round public access and relieve the pressure on Queens Quay. A token is certainly a lower tax on visitors to the islands than the ferry.

  5. Re: Downtown Relief Line

    In my opinion, if council is to seriously consider this, they should piggy-back it on the environmental assessment of the removal of the eastern Gardiner Expressway. In Madrid, Spain (…/m30_madrid7.html) they buried a 6-lane highway in 2 tunnels. Under the road decks was extra room. In one tunnel they put a subway line with twin tracks (like a DRL) and in the other they put an emergency lane for ambulances, etc.

    In Toronto, you could acheive the same thing by burying the two together under the rail line from the CNE in the west to the Don River in the east. This alignment follows the proposed route of the DRL and you could have on and off ramps come up at Cherry, Jarvis and Yonge under the rail lines (essentially putting a stoplight under the railway tracks), a raised one at the Spadina bridge and another tying into a revived Front street extension. Each of the on/off ramps could be built into the same construction as the stations, simplifying design.

    This gets us a DRL, a completely removed Gardiner and frees up space around Lakeshore for smaller scale residential and commerical new development.

    The plus of doing a tunnel under the rail lands also means that nothing of the Gardiner or Lakeshore has to be touched (except a little around the EX) during construction, meaning you avoid all the commuter hassles of the Big Dig in Boston.

    A win-win I say.

  6. Adam Vaughan says the island airport is for “a few very privileged people, not taxpayers”. Well, what the fuck does he think I am? I use Porter regularly and I assure you I’m no privileged elite. This kind of “regular folk don’t want that” bullshit argument must be something Vaughan picked up from Sarah Palin. Who are these “taxpayers” of whom he speaks? Are there more of them then there are Porter Airlines customers. Where do I find these all these folks? Are they the people protesting next to the ferry terminal? If so, I feel like I must be on the majority side of the debate, because there are usually about 12 of them and on any given ferry about 75 of us “privileged people”.

    But the real answer is that these “taxpayers” Vaughan is referring to are nowhere. Using the word “taxpayers” when one is making an argument is like using corn starch to thicken a soup. It’s just a little trick you throw in when things aren’t going your way. It’s tasteless, but it works; people get pissed that their “tax dollars” are being squandered and the person making the point (or rather, avoiding the point) doesn’t have to resort to those pesky facts.

    Porter Airlines is seeing increased passenger growth, so it stands to reason that a growing number of Toronto-based “taxpayers” are seeing the benefit of its well-run, courteous and efficient service. I have never heard a convincing argument for closing the airport. Nor have I heard anyone tell me how its presence is any more of a blight on the waterfront than the new gas-fired power plant that was permitted to exist with barely a whimper of protest from City Hall. There’s a big difference between the airport and the power plant, of course. One of them wasn’t in the mayor’s campaign slogan.

    Adam Vaughan’s brand of nose-thumbing bullshit is nothing more than sour grapes from a guy who claims there’s neither need for, nor interest in an island airport and is consistently proven wrong. It’s game, set and match. Move on…and please stop trying to make me feel bad. You won’t win that one either.

  7. I’m not sure whether I agree with a tunnel to the airport… especially in the configuration that has been described. But I KNOW I don’t agree with the fact that we have a group of people who were given the right to continue to live on the islands. This is and should be treated as public space for the benefit of all — allowing people to live their goes against this principle.

  8. “It’s a bunch of money to help one particular airline, not the airline industry. It’s a bunch of money to move a few very privileged people, not taxpayers,” Vaughan said.

    While I generally agree with the fact that the tunnel, as described, would only serve to help the airline, I object to Vaughan’s notion that the airport is moving “a few very priveleged people”. I am a student, certainly not priveleged. In fact, close access and cheap fares are why I took Porter. And a quick visual survey of my fellow passengers revealed a mix of both so-called “priveleged” people and non-priveleged ones like myself.

    Oh, and priveleged people pay taxes too… sometimes I wonder if councillors think before they speak.

  9. Re: National Post article on Union Station improvements.
    Does Allison Hanes ride transit?

  10. Not sure whether Alison Hanes takes transit, but when the Star’s Tess Kalinowski and Paul Maloney talk about how the TTC’s new bus strategy will up the experience of taking the bus “from good to great”, I KNOW they don’t take the bus.

  11. Ok, so forget the privileged shtick. (And it is shtick, I’m sure.) The real problem is having upper levels of governments fall over themselves to fund this when other more worthy infrastructure projects languish or require beg-borrow-stealing. If Porter wants this tunnel so badly, they should pay for a good deal of it.

    Even if the people riding their friendlier skies are not particularly part of the privileged elite, the absolute numbers are never going to be huge. And that’s ok. What’s not ok is the millions we want to lavish on them.

    As for samg’s bizarre assertion that no one should be allowed to live on the island… Just because there are residents there doesn’t mean that vast swaths of the island are not public space. And just we’re all mightily jealous of the luck, doesn’t mean we should spoil it for them either. Indeed, at various points in the past, the residential population over there was actually a good deal higher, I believe.

  12. If you’re taking Porter regularly, you’re at least relatively privileged. Not necessarily because its Porter, but because it’s fairly regular air travel. The same is true to a slightly lesser extent if you’re a post-secondary student – there is some privilege in that. I don’t mean compared to your peers, but compared to the broader society. Note that I say this as somebody who considers himself relatively privileged on both these grounds, among others.

  13. “a few very privileged people, not taxpayers”

    We fly to Halifax a few time a year. We usually end up flying Porter not only because the airport is closer and the service is better, but the majority of the time it is cheaper then Air Canada or Westjet.

    “But I KNOW I don’t agree with the fact that we have a group of people who were given the right to continue to live on the islands. This is and should be treated as public space for the benefit of all — allowing people to live their goes against this principle.”

    If there was a shortage of public space on the on Islands this might be a good idea, but I don’t think there is. By your logic all housing everywhere should be removed to make more public space.

  14. Housing on the island makes the island’s public spaces much more interesting. We’ve no shortage of “virgin-ish” ravine lands to get lost, no shortage of manicured parks — the island is a different place. The thought that people live there gives the place a certain life. In fact, I might like a bit of the “main street” that was lost in the 60s etc to be brought back. I’m certainly not jealous of islanders — personally would hate to live there — but I’m happy to let them do so.

  15. @Ian M — I travel for business, which is not so much a priviledge as it is my job. Perhaps the general misconception is that all we Porter-ites only use the airline to zoom off to our regular vacations. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The people I see on my Porter flights are other business travellers, zooming from city to city with that “I’m on another morning flight and I wish I was still in bed” look on their face. I know that face well, I see it in the mirror before every day trip to Montreal or Ottawa.

    The reason Porter works for frequent flyers is that it makes the concept of flying anywhere at 6am a little less crappy because you a) don’t have to get up a 4am and drive to Pearson and b) when one arrives at the island, they’re greeted with vastly superior service. It really is that good. And for the Mayor and jerks like Adam Vaughan to be crapping all over the airline and it’s passengers rankles me to such an extent that I’m willing to defend an airline! You think I’d do that for Air Canada…no.

    @samg — I’ve said many times that I don’t have a lot of sympathy for island dwellers. They have it as good or better than most in this city. So when they complain about noise from airplanes I say “Hey, you live 50 paces from the beach, in a cottage, on a beautiful island in the city. It’s an urban paradise, but it’s still urban. So…deal.”. That being said, there is no question in my mind that the island is improved by their presence, both aesthetically, culturally and enviornmentally. The residents add yet another unique aspect to our city and should be defended and preserved.

  16. The “privileged” people are flying Air Canada, which will happily charge them $500 for a 30-minute flight to Montreal.

    The regular folk are flying Porter, where the same trip can be had for just $75.

    Vaughn’s comments indicate he is one of the former, not the latter.

  17. Andrew,
    You might have a difference of opinion with me regarding the islanders … but your use of the word “bizarre” regarding my comment seems “bizarre” to me. I’m not the only one who seems to think the islanders ended up with an inappropriate, sweetheart deal that was achieved at the expense of other members of the public. The issue is not “jealousy” over what the islanders got — the issue is that some members of the public (ie the islanders) seem to be more equal than others when it comes to access/rights over what is public space.

  18. As for arguments that the islanders make the islands more culturally and esthetically “interesting”, this is an opinion. What about a few rows of townhouses in the middle of High Park — just to make that park more interesting of course.

  19. @Ian, I’m positive that Adam Vaughan wasn’t thinking about post-secondary students when he was referring to the “priveleged” people who take Porter, no matter how priveleged or under-priveleged post-secondary students might be.

  20. Samg> Who’s talking about high park? Why would you bring this up? Is there something in the air today making the comments here skew to the ridiculous? The island communities have been there for many decades, there is context and history behind why they are there. Not somebody’s whim to “make the island interesting”.

    Tell us why you don’t want the islanders there without making up High Park stories. What’s this about access? I’ve commented here on Spacing in the past that Islanders are often out of line with their objections to noise and festivals — they choose to live there — but that’s a limited point.

  21. Shawn, actually you were the one raised the point about how “interesting” the housing on the island made the public spaces there. See your post of Aug. 26 at 10:14 a.m.

    If I used the word in my post with respect to the hypothetical High Park situation, it’s to highlight that what you (or I) consider “interesting” is completely besides the point regarding the appropriateness of housing on the island or on any other public space.

    “Context and history” are better arguments with respect to the appropriateness of the island communities — though I (and many others) don’t think they justify the current situation of a select group of folks having privileged rights seemingly in sperpetuity over what many see as public space.

  22. The historical context of people living on the island seems fundamental here — makes the conversation about the Island different than any other park.

    If people want the privilege, there’s a long waiting list. People go on it, they get a space one day. Other folks I know who want to live on the island are renters from people who have the lease. So, not so privileged, just desire. Not my desire, personally, but available.

  23. Shawn… the issue is those who have the lease… they are certainly privileged regardless of the status of who they rent to.

  24. Sometimes I don’t know about this word “privileged” — it’s like the word “authentic” — when I hear it, I get nervous. Why are people using this word? If going on a waiting list to lease a cottage on the island — or having a lease for the last 30 years — is privileged, what else is? If you use this word here, on the island, where else in the city do you use it? Most everything, after a while, seems privileged. Then what?

  25. Shawn, the fact that you get “nervous” when people use the word “privileged” has little bearing on whether it is used appropriately or not. The fact is that while anyone can “rent” from an islander leaseholder, not everyone was among the group of islanders who had their leaseholds extended way back in the 90s. So, even though you may not agree or get nervous, many would discribe this group of island leaseholders as having a “privileged” status with respect to this land.

    To pretend (as you seem to want to do) that it isn’t some sort of privileged status begs the question of why they fought so hard for this status.

  26. “This kind of “regular folk don’t want that” bullshit argument must be something Vaughan picked up from Sarah Palin.”

    heh. good one. Never mind, we’ll all forgive him when the glory that is the Cityplace rail-pedestrian bridge shows up. Meanwhile Porter is probably benefiting from a few more travellers who were going to be taking a four hour ride to Ottawa before their train caught fire.

    “Who are these “taxpayers” of whom he speaks?”

    I often want to ask the Canadian Taxpayer Federation that question too…

  27. Ok, samg, maybe it’s privileged. For fun though, in the future, let’s look at your (or any) comments/opinions through the lens of “privilege”. We could likely pick apart lots of what you (or I) say because it’s, well, privileged.

    That’s why I get nervous — it’s a sloppy, overused word, used as sledgehammer & it has collateral damage.

  28. Shawn, in your last comment, you seem to be both throwing in the towel (“maybe its privileged”) and also trying to suggest that these sorts of criticisms boil down to word games.

    I stand by my use of the word “privileged” in this instance — and I think the islanders’ battle over these leaseholds supports what I say. You don’t have to agree with what I say.

    My understanding is that this board represents a public discussion — and as such, the points you, I or anybody make should be open to scrutiny. If I find a point someone has made questionable or that their terminology has resulted in what I think are faulty arguments, I will comment on it (if I have the time/inclination, of course).

    If you want to apply the “lens” of “privilege” to other points made on this board, feel free to. And if I feel the application is inappropriate, I’ll comment on it (if I have the time/inclination, of course). And I’m sure you will do the same (as you have done above) when you think what I’m saying is off-base — providing you have the time/inclination. Peace.

  29. It certainly is a priviledge to live on the island, if you’re into that sort of thing. Just the same, I find it a priviledge to live in Parkdale. But I wouldn’t necessarily call myself or the islanders priviledged. For me, priviledged (as it is commonly used) is analogous to favoured.

    I don’t see islanders as being favoured. I see them as choosing to live in one of Toronto’s available neighbourhoods. An application process is not only necessary but makes the playing field even for anyone wanting to live on the island. Can you imagine what the island would be like if the property there was open to the market like any other neighbourhood? Certainly average people like you and me wouldn’t have a chance of affording it? So instead of letting the island fall into the hands of only the rich, it’s left open to anyone.

    The island system is equitable and transparent. And if I had one of those plots, I’d never give it up either.

  30. Now, now…take it easy on my beloved Parkdale. I’m moving to Montreal in a month and I’m very sad to leave Parkdale. I’ve been there a long time and seen such a change. It’s given me an up-close look at gentrification…and crazy people…and gun fights…and hookers…and…

  31. Josh, you may feel privileged to live in Parkdale. But that is a privilege ALL people can avail themselves of either as tenants or homeowners, providing they have the requisite funds. With respect to the leasehold rights extended to certain islanders (ie those who are more than just “renting” on the island) back in the 90s, this is only a privilege afforded to a select group. Capisce?

    Now while there’s nothing necessarily wrong or unfair about a select group being granted special privileges. In the case of Native peoples and reserves it can be seen as a measure to address (only partly) past injustices. But I hardly see how islanders’ status is even remotely analogous.

    You may chose to see the system of transferring homes on the islands as fair, equitable and transparent. Others would point out that only a few number of homes becomes available each year. In any case, it’s not the transfer process that I’m saying unfair. What I’m saying is unfair is that a select group back in the 90s had their leasehold rights over public lands extended — that’s what I’m saying is unfair. The transfer process regarding homes that become available is really another issue.

  32. OK, I am going to chime in here a little late.

    privilege: a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most

    By that definition, I think it is fair to say that island residents are privileged. The definition does not specifically refer to financial privilege, even if that is what we tend to think of. They enjoy the right or benefit of living on the island, beyond the advantages of most Toronto residents (due to the arduous application process and the lengthy waiting lists).

    I also think that, by that definition, it is harder to apply the term to Porter passengers. Maybe if we were in the early age of air travel when it was something done by only the rich. Certainly there are a lot of people in Toronto that could not afford to travel by air and would need to take other modes, but air travel is hardly “beyond the advantages of most”.

    Finally, by that definition, living in Parkdale would not be a privilege — it is a neighbourhood that is available to most, if not all, that want to live there. (Rosedale or the Bridle Path might be a different story.) Although there is one definition that perhaps fit that bill a little better (an advantage or source of pleasure granted to a person: It’s my privilege to be here).