The Path

When I look at my site stats, I see that the most popular search terms landing people here over the past couple weeks have to do with the new skating path over in Sam Smith Park. I did a post about it while it was still in construction.

I haven’t skated for years, although when I did, I really enjoyed it. The skating path looks really nice, and there’s always quite a few people over there enjoying it. The other night, some of our family were visiting for Christmas and they went over for a skate. I see the skaters every day because the path is  just across the way from the dog park. You might not notice that if you go at night because the skating path got all the lights and the dog park got none. We take flashlights in the hopes of finding what we need to pick up.

This reminds me that the dog park sure could use some kind of wind break. I bet the City has some old bus shelters kicking around. One of those would help a lot by protecting us from the howling north winds that whip down that corridor. There was talk that trees would be planted in the fall to help block the wind but as far as I can see, nothing happened. The dog park is popular and a great variety of dogs and their owners venture there daily. They built a really nice fence and put in a couple benches, but to be honest I’d be happier with an ordinary chain link fence if the money were spent on a bit of shelter instead.

Anyway, enough of me going on about a bus shelter. The point of this post is really to tell people who come in here looking for information about the skating path that it seems to be an idea lots of people really like. It’s located south of Lakeshore Blvd in Sam Smith Park, south of Kipling Ave.

Salt (a small rant)

Anchovy World Headquarters has thus far been immune to the nasty snowstorms around us. This morning on the radio, I heard that on Highway 402 near Sarnia there are all kinds of stranded motorists being brought to community warming centres by snowmobile and ATV, and the army is on it’s way.

We have experienced just a sprinkling of snow so far. The City has decided to prepare for the worst though, and has seen fit to salt all the sidewalks in our area. What’s up with that? When we first moved to Long Branch I was very surpised to see the City plowing sidewalks. Back in the former location of Anchovy World Headquarters, near St. Clair and Caledonia, the City only removed snow from our street twice in eight years. There was no room for the snow so we created piles on the street. When it finally started to melt, the City would have trucks drive over the piles to spread it around. Getting in and out was a constant challenge. I understand the problem The City faced. The street was narrow and there was parking on one side and there was no room between houses to pile the snow. Removal was the only answer, an option I only recall seeing two times in all the years I lived in the area. The first winter we lived in Longbranch, on the other hand, I was out shovelling the sidewalk one afternoon when along comes Buddy with his little plow tooling down the sidewalk – not necessary, but nice just the same.

Now they’ve decided to salt. Salt has its place in very icy conditions. Occasionally, we have to put some down so nobody gets hurt passing the house. We didn’t need a preventative dose though. It’s really excessive, and it’s not good for the dogs to walk on all that salt.  Here’s one way for the Mayor to save some dough. Stop salting the sidewalks. If they really need salting, we can take care of it, thank you very much.

Bike Riding Pinkos

The folks at Spacing Toronto have reacted quickly to Don Cherry’s unfortunate comments at the Mayor’s inauguration the other day. They already have Bike Riding Pinko buttons available at their on-line store.

It’s going to be a long road…

…to the next municipal election in Toronto

No need for Council vote

Cherry faces off

Councillor tries to rally support

It was a very strange choice indeed to have Don Cherry participate in the inauguration ceremony and his clownish outfit and comments were, to be generous, embarrassing.

Jog Gone

An underpass has been built at Dufferin and Queen Streets in Toronto, eliminating the Dufferin St. jog, an old planning oversight causing an odd block-long gap in Dufferin St. north of Queen. This significant change will help ease traffic congestion in the area and may well boost re-development west of the tracks. I wrote some comments about the jog and about some memories of the Queen West area over at that other place. Those of you who would like to comment over there on my ramblings will have to register, but then, as I discovered, the free registration comes with a blog. Of course you’re welcome to comment over here too.

Improvements

2007 in Germany
Image via Wikipedia

The City has been doing some improvements to 27th Street. It started earlier in the year when they re-did all the water lines. The same contractors were also available to replace water lines going from the City shut-off into houses. After they completed the work they patched the road and sodded the areas of lawn that were dug up. Really they did a nice job of it, even if it made a mess of the street for a while.

The next thing they did was to grind off several inches of road in preparation for new paving. They had big machines to do this and it didn’t take very long to strip the road. This left raised manholes so it was a bit of an obstacle course around here for a while. It was left that way for some weeks, and then the guys came along and did the first level of paving up and down our street. This reduced the raised manholes to the point where we could drive over them. I thought the next step would be to do the final level of paving.

I was wrong. The other day, they crews returned. They cut a 4 foot wide trench in the street along our side, removing the new paving and digging down 2 or 3 feet. It looks like now they’re replacing the old curbs. I guess when they finish our side of the street, they’ll either patch the road or do first level paving again before moving to the other side of the street.

I’m happy to have the maintenance work done on our street, and I understand the mess and disruption. I’m OK with having to park on the street for a while instead of in my driveway (a trench is currently blocking the drive). I do have one question, though. I wonder why they decided to do first level paving, then dig that up to do curbs. Why not dig up the old paving to do curbs, then do first level paving. It just seems wrong to do work that has to be torn up again a month later. Maybe there’s a reason for it that I’m blind to.

Hopefully, the trenches will be gone on our side of the street in a few days.

Another Ward 6 Profile

Yesterday’s Ward 6 Profile led to the lowest hit count this blog has received since its inception. Are you folks trying to tell me something? Nonetheless, I’m going to sally forth with this because I think its important.

Today’s profile features Pastor Wendell Brereton, the second candidate to respond to my questions.

I’ll have a third profile featuring Jem Cain soon.

So, here are the questions and Pastor Brereton’s answers

1. Why Ward 6? Do you have some history in this area? Please tell my readers a little about your background.

I grew up next door in Ward 13 in the Swansea Mews at Windermere and Queensway. I am a Canadian Citizen of Caribbean origins. I was raised by a single mother who was able to motivate me towards graduating High school and receiving a basketball Scholarship to an American University. I graduated with an accounting degree and played briefly in the NBA. I returned back to Toronto after university and worked in the Accounting field before becoming a police officer with the Ontario Provincial Police. I served over 12 years in this capacity being decorated by the Commisionner for bravery in 2002. I retired on a disability allotment in 2006 due to injuries suffered in a severe car accident while on duty in response to an emergency. I am currently the chair of a corporation that is focused on youth programs for at risk and autistic children. I am an ordained Christian Reverend of 4 churches two of which are located in the United States of America and two of which are in Toronto. I am currently the senior Pastor of a church in the Regent Park area. I have worked in the community as an activist for social reform for 18 years. I am a father of five children and a husband and pet owner.


2. What are your top 3 priorities for our neighbourhood?

1/ Economic development, ensuring that businesses in the Ward are sustainable and the Ward is attractive to new business. Respecting our tax payers and causing transparency in city hall especially in government spending.

2/ Ensuring the crime rate of Ward 6 continually declines by a tiered effort of police presence, youth programs, and job creation in the private sector.

3/ Transportation express routes to ensure the residents of the Ward can rapidly get into the down-town core in peak hours.


3. This year, we’ve experienced a large number of break-ins in Longbranch. Can you influence change and improvement in this area?

I will do a target study of what type of criminal we see in the area. I regularly consult with security companies in this capacity. This way we will be able to target what we are able to do to maintain a crime free Ward. Is police presence an issue, unemployment an issue, lack of programs or is it crime from out of the area. I will do an assessment myself of the criminal element and the vulnerable sectors of the Ward for free. I will hit the ground running with real solutions how to cause criminals to know Ward 6 is the last place in Toronto to attempt any form or criminal behaviour. My relationship with the Chief of Police and other local law enforcement officers carries weight now and will carry even more weight as a Councillman for Ward 6.


4. What is your position on the proposal to run a dedicated TTC LRT line through our community? Do you have alternative ideas?

I believe that we should be very careful about transportation construction that might cause a greater determent to the struggling business community. I do believe an express bus in peak hours is advisable inorder to avoid the Humber loop delays. Our listening tour in the coming weeks will allow us to hear from you and see what you want.


5. Do you think we have adequate community consultation currently in our area? If not, how would you improve this?

My first role as the Councillor of Ward 6 will be to form a diverse accountability committee. A committee of Ward 6 residents of various backgrounds which will speak to the plethora of concerns and be able to give me advise and insight as to the totality and continuity of real issues in our Ward.


6. What is good development and what is bad development? Ward 6 is an unusual treasure in the city. What should be preserved and what should be changed?

Bad development is capital and infrastructure development that punishes the business owner. Good development is development that creates jobs, develops our amazing lake-shore, improves the liveability, and revitalizes both buildings and people.

We need to maintain the affordable housing in our Ward. We need to encourage restaurants and water sport recreational businesses. We also need a face-lift of certain storefronts. Continuing developing recreation and parks and identifying if the Ward wants to increase its bike lanes are a focus of my bid for Ward 6 Council chair.


7. Who do you support for mayor?

We have endorsed Rob Ford for Mayor.


8. We’ve seen councillors spend their office budgets on all sorts of creative things from French lessons to retirement parties, and we’ve seen others spend nothing at all. What is appropriate in your view? How will you be accountable as a councillor?

My councillor budget is first for the proper administration of the office of my Ward 6 constituents. You will know my expenditures because you will see that what my office spends money on is for you.

9 Our City Council has been dysfunctional for a number of years. The behaviour of councillors has often been childish at best. How will you contribute to improvement in this area?

A fragmented city council is the sign of a fragmented city. We need to reach across the table and cooperate with each other and support the Mayor who the residents of the city of Toronto votes into office. I will be the voice of reform and a bridge maker in city hall. I will stand up for my constituents and not allow corruption in municipal government.


10. What are the top 3 reasons why we should vote for you for Ward 6 Councillor?

1. I am the one councillor who has the portfolio of neighbourhood policing, business acumen, and community programming for at risk and vulnerable persons especially our elderly community. I can make connections with community youth, community leaders and professional athletes to make sure our youth are motivated to succeed.

2. I have the negotiation and partnership skills to make city hall work and invite private investors and development to our ward. I will work with the mayor to make sure you are heard at City Hall. The taxpayer is my number one concern. Your homes, your businesses your families must be safe, successful and prospering. I will make sure big business and small business alike thrives in Ward 6.

3. I will be side by side with you in any issue, answering my phone calls meeting with constituents and solving problems as they arise. I have lived at every economic level and understand the concerns of all socio economic income levels. I will not hide from you I will be an active member of Ward 6. Ward 6 we will be the envy of the city in my first term, we will be the template of transformational success. We will be the apple of Toronto’s eye. Residents of Ward 6 elect Wendell Brereton for Councillor on October 25 2010 help is on the Way

Should the mayor of Toronto be paid more?

The candidates don’t think so. But then again, they’re all competing for the same job. Who’s about to come out and say, oh yeah, and a salary hike would be great. In general, I think a job like mayor should get a good salary. A report from the Hay group suggests a 9% raise is appropriate, from $167,769.94 to $183,604, plus $1,900.08 in added benefits.

The way I see it, either the current salary or the proposed higher salary is very very good pay. I can’t imagine a potential candidate thinking, well I’m not going to take on a job like that for only $168k. Now if they upped it to $184k, that’s another story. Both salaries are within the same order of magnitude, and I don’t have a quarrel with either of them. As I said, I think the mayor ought to be well-paid. Some would argue that neither salary is going to attract a qualified enough candidate, and I don’t really know if that’s true or not. Certainly CEOs of private companies earn scads more than the mayor of our major metropolis, but perhaps those CEOs simply make an unreasonable amount of money.

I suggest that if we give the mayor more dough, we should put some controls around City Hall office budgets (like make them smaller) to discourage councillors from spending the money on French lessons or retirement parties. At the councillor level, I don’t think more money in the pot would change anything for the better. It is very difficult to unseat an incumbant in Toronto, and I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t change if the job were made more lucrative.

That reminds me, recall that a few days ago, I sent 10 questions out to the three registered candidates for Ward 6 councillor. Ward 6 is of course my local ward. Two of the candidates replied promptly with their answers. I haven’t yet heard from the third, so I sent that individual a second (and last email). On Wednesday evening, I’ll begin posting the responses here at 27th Street.  I really hope that all three candidates reply to my questions.

The Plot Thickens

Look what was posted over at the leash-free area at the R.L. Clark Filtration plant today. I assume this stuff was posted by the person who was there expressing her opinion last evening.

A gate would certainly solve the problem of the dog area cutting off the walking path. Do you think the City will respond to this request by putting in a couple gates?

There’s a bench in the park made from cement blocks and an old board. The umbrella was a donation from a neighbour. So far the City has been kind enough not to trash our furnishings.

I wonder why they’re stopping the fence here, leaving all that disused space between the fence and the trees. Think they have plans for that space? Who knows.

Here’s some of the gang: Annie on the left, Finnie at the top, then Memphis the Landseer, Dexter the shep/collie and Ellie Mae.

One Down

Giorgio Mammoliti withdrew from the Toronto mayoralty race today. It was not a surprise. He wasn’t going to be the next mayor, but along the way he got an opportunity to showcase a host of ideas. Good ones, bad ones, wacky ones – Mammoliti had no shortage of ideas, perhaps more than the rest of the candidates combined.

So where does that leave us. This early in the race (the election isn’t until fall), I’m not convinced that Mammoliti’s supposed 5% of the vote is going to make or break anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a couple more withdrawals in the coming days as well. But where are the stand-out candidates? Is there anyone on the slate about whom you can say, that’s going to be our next mayor and these are going to be exciting times. We’ll see what happens in early September when the campaign begins in earnest, but for right now, I remain unconvinced.