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Gay Village laneway named for Sky Gilbert

The city now has a street named for a living, gay man.

It may be a global first. But we don’t actually know if it’s even a Toronto first, because the city doesn’t keep track of such things.

But whether it’s a first or not (according to city officials, Toronto has permitted street namings for living people since 2013), it’s certainly a cause for celebration.

Sky Gilbert is the 61-year-old writer of more than two dozen plays and five novels and co-founder of Buddies in Bad Times theatre, a mainstay of LGBTQ theatre in the city for 36 years.

The lane named for him runs beside the theatre.

Gilbert was born in Connecticut and now lives in Hamilton and teaches at the University of Guelph. He has been known for decades for expressing strong and often unpopular opinions related to sex, sexuality and theatre. A recent post on his blog, for instance, lists 10 things wrong with audiences at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, including “They are fat,” “They are ugly,” “They don’t know how to raise their children,” and “They have no idea what David Mirvish has done for them.”

Gilbert’s forthrightness has often been mistaken for egoism. It’s worth noting that there’s no mention on his blog of the street now named after him.

According to Bruce McPherson, the city’s manager of surveys, Gilbert’s name was put forwad by the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Bruce McPherson, Lyne Kyle

If anyone knows of any other streets or laneways in the city named for LGBTQ people, please let us know, and we'll amend the above story to record and reflect.

First Gulf breaks ground on transit-friendly workplace in Mississauga

Great Gulf is in the middle of two developments of great significance to the GTA, one high profile, one less so.

Great Gulf, who just received five OHBA awards, are the people behind One Bloor East, the curvaceous condo tower going up at the corner of Yonge and Bloor. In addition to its location, One Bloor is the first residential tower to make use of a curtain wall, a non-structural way of building windows that is popular with commercial buildings, allowing a sealed interior environment while letting in a lot of light. It’s due for completion in the summer of 2016.

The other just broke ground on Sept. 24 in Mississauga. It’s a commercial building, constructed to LEED Gold standards, that will bring hundreds of jobs onto the GO Transit line, offering direct access to the Meadowvale station. It’s being developed under the Great Gulf Group’s commercial and retile arm, First Gulf.

This is the third phase of the Meadowvale Centre, which is also a 15-minute drive to Pearson airport. Once completed, phase 3 will be 100,000 square feet, available to tenants at $22.50 per square foot per month.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Madeline Zito

Weren't we supposed to be getting a tunnel for the island airport?

A passenger who has just missed the Marilyn Bell to Billy Bishop airport and has to wait as much as 15 minutes for it to return from its 121-metre journey may well wonder, Whatever happened to that pedestrian tunnel they were building?

Turns out, tunnel-building’s a slow business, though you get some indication of how it’s going when you get across to the island and can peer down into a very large hole beside the gangway from the ferry into the terminal.

According to the Toronto Port Authority, who are doing the dig in a public-private partnership with Forum Equity Partners and contractor PCL, “The mainland terminal structure is progressing vertically as insulation, waterproofing, reinforcing steel and concrete continue to be placed. Within the tunnel, the motors that will drive the moving sidewalks have been installed and work has begun on the tunnel wall framing, as well as architectural finishes. The escalator bank roof slab on the island is complete and walls in the elevator shaft are nearing completion.”

It is also, apparently, still on budget, which was set at $82.5 million, which is coming from the partnership, as well as portions of the improvement fee departing passengers on Porter and Air Canada pay.

"The tunnel will be the only fully pedestrian, underwater tunnel in the world that connects travellers from a mainland to an airport island," says Ken Lundy, director of infrastructure, planning and environment for the TPA, "and is a key component of our traffic management strategy smoothing out the flow of passengers and alleviating congestion stemming from travellers arriving and departing in four ferry ‘waves’ per hour."

There was a glitch last April, when the diggers discovered metal sheeting and pilings from an abortive 1935 attempt at building pretty much the same tunnel, minus the Minority Report-style digital proximity-sensitive advertising the TPA and Black have planned for airport pedestrians. But in spite of that, it is still on schedule for completion early next year.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Erin Mikaluk

High Park's new bike park officially opens

Toronto officially got its third bike park this past weekend, as Councillor Doucette cut the ribbon on Sunnyside Bike Park.

Designed by Vancouver mountain bike rider and designer Jay Hoots, and built by Ferdom Construction, the park is the city’s largest.

“Bayview Bike Park is a smaller all dirt bike park and Wallace Emerson is also a smaller park with a dirt pump track and metal riding features replicating a more 'urban' riding experience,” says the city’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation spokesman Scott Laver. "The design of Sunnyside offers more progression and a wider variety of riding features for all levels and experience of riders.”

The off-road park’s wooden skills zone was constructed out of wood salvaged after the 2013 ice storm, and the clay used for the tracks came from the excavation of a development site near College and Spadina.

The park has been in the works since 2010, and cost $500,000.

According to the city’s press release, “This new bike park will address the lack of off-road cycling venues in the west end and ideally will reduce or eliminate the creation of informal bike parks in ecologically sensitive areas of the High Park neighbourhood.”

The city’s currently planning a fourth bike park, for Marie Curtis Park in Ward 6.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Scott Laver

City gets tough on construction disruption

The city’s decided to get tough on developers who, city-builders though they be, take too many liberties with our roads.

“This is part and parcel of the City's overall congestion management plan whereby we are increasing enforcement of construction activity taking place on city streets,” says Andre Filippetti, Toronto-East York’s guy in charge of right-of-way management. “We consider this important because maintaining construction sites in a proper way is critical to ensure the safety of all road users.”

With constructions sites numbering in what Filippetti estimates to be the thousands around the city, most pedestrians, cyclists and drivers will have run into messes and other forms of encroachment into our rights of way. It’s hard to keep on top of it all, and even harder to do something about when you do encounter infringements and infractions, but the city figures it's up to the job.

“We employ staff who are certified as Provincial Offences Officers (Transportation Standards Officers) who are able to issue notices to the constructors and/or to lay any appropriate charges under the Municipal Code related to any violation within the City of Toronto road allowance,” Filippetti says.

If you want to report a case, call 311.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Andrew Filippetti

As the East Bayfront grows, Waterfront invests in making it cycle-friendly.

Waterfront Toronto is not satisfied to wait until the East Bayfront is finished before opening it up to cyclists. It wants them there now.

And so they’re building an interim cycling infrastructure (and one for pedestrians as well), that will serve the burgeoning area until development and funding are in place.

East Bayfront was a formerly industrial part of the waterfront,” says Waterfront spokeswoman Sam Gileno. “It lacked basic infrastructure such as a continuous sidewalk on the south side of the street. The full revitalization of Queens Quay in this area is dependent on funding for the East Bayfront LRT. The interim pedestrian and cyclists improvements will help connect the area until funding for this important transit line is in place and construction is complete.”

According to Gileno, there are two major projects getting underway.

First is a cyclist network.

“We will create a continuous off-street Martin Goodman Trail on the south side of Queens Quay which will separate cyclists from motor vehicles along the waterfront,” she says. “By spring, 2015, when both this project and the revitalization of Queens Quay are complete, the Martin Goodman Trail will be in place from Bathurst Street all the way to Parliament Street.”

The second is a continuous sidewalk for pedestrians.

“Currently the sidewalk in this area is an asphalt path,” she says. “It will be replaced with a city standard concrete sidewalk with landscaping alongside. A north-south pedestrian crosswalk will also be added along the east side of the Parliament Street intersection.”

The two will cost $1.8 million, which includes both hard and soft costs, and will remain in place until Queens Quay has been fully renovated.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Sam Gileno

City's app-assisted bike research nears 3,000 riders, 40,000 rides

Toronto's aptly named Toronto Cycling app is now approaching 40,000 captured trips in its mission to map the city's most popular cycling routes.

The city's current cycling routes total 570 km, and it's looking to expand along what some have called desire lines, routes that get used whether they'e promoted or not.

Created by Waterloo's Brisk Synergies, Toronto Cycling was released in May on Android and IPhone. Since then, about 3,000 people have downloaded the app, which uses GPS to track the routes cyclists use. A visualization the city has produced using the data collected so far, with recorded trips rendered in red as an overlay on a map, reveals veinous and arterial routes breathing two-wheeled life into the city.

The city will continue collecting the data until at least November, when they will compile it into a report to present to council in 2015. 

"At the end of the year we will be evaluating the value of continuing the data collection into 2015 and on," says Sibel Sarper, assistant planner. "The data collected in 2014 may provide a good baseline to monitor the change in cycling route choice after new cycling infrastructure is introduced yearly."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Sibel Sarper

City unveils new road-closure site

The city has just made it a little less infuriating to drive around.

As of this month, there's a city website listing all the road closures that might hamper you in your commute or daily errand-running.

It's just a list, but a useful one, compiled by city staff from information sent to them by workers in the field. It lists the name of the road, what intersections it's closed from and to, when the closure starts and ends, and what the extent of the closure is (one lane, all lanes, etc.).

As of the July 21 update, there were five closures on the site, which lists only “main roads,” which the city defines as those roads which are not “local roads.”

“Our staff in the field make a determination if construction on the roadway will be particularly impactful to the travelling public,” says Steve Johnston, who works in the city's communications department.

I say “a little less” infuriating because the city at the moment has no plans for an app, which would make it easier to check into such things when one is already on the road.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Johnston

Airport work brings people movers to a halt

The people movers have been moving fewer people around Pearson airport's Terminal 1 lately.

For the last several weeks, one or more of the moving sidewalks meant to abbreviate travellers' journeys across the vast expanses of airport nothingness have been shut down for maintenance and repairs.

The new yellow Express high-speed one was first, and though the Greater Toronto Airport Authority is providing no details, it seemed to have been down for several weeks.

And as soon as that one – which the GTAA's Patricia Krale says is the only one of its kind in the world -- was up and running the regular, slow-poke ones went down, and remained out of service until late last week.

Visitors to the airport will also have noticed some major construction going on outside in front of the parking facilities. Much of this, according to Krale, is the result of damage done to the roads during the especially harsh winter just past, in addition to terminal work being done for the new rail link to Union Station, which will, when finished, offer passengers slightly less than $20 alternative to the TTC's current $3 fare to and from the airport.

This all comes hard on the heels of the long-term construction project inside the airport to add more than a dozen new restaurant kiosks.

No word from GTAA on when any of it's going to be finished.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Patricia Krale

North York to get new medical offices at new Finch West subway station

Real Wealth developers have announced there'll be a new medical arts building going up in North York.

The eight-storey, 165,000 square foot building will be 200 metres from the future Finch West subway station, and also near the new Humber River Regional Hospital at Keele and Wilson, which is scheduled to open on Oct. 18, 2015.

According to their spokesman, Stephen Murdoch, the project has been in the planning stages since 2011, and construction on the site of a former gas station and Tim Horton's at Finch and Keele is set to begin this fall.

"Findings showed that there was a lack of supply, namely in relation to all that is happening with the new hospital and all that are relocating to it from around Ontario and the Country," Murdoch says. "Current office and medical facilities are old, maintenance fees high, and inefficient, surrounded by an aging population."

Designed by ACK Architects, the building -- to be called University Heights – will offer its 89 office spaces both for rent and for sale.

The building will also qualify for tier 2 of Toronto's Green Standard, and will include 7,100 square feet of green roof.

Murdoch said the building is scheduled for occupancy in June, 2016.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Stephen Murdoch

Temporary bridges open at Dufferin

Last week, drivers got their Dufferin back.

On April 11, the temporary bridges replacing the old and hastily condemned Dufferin Bridge opened to traffic, allowing vehicles to get to and from Lake Shore Blvd. West and Exhibition Place via Dufferin once again.

These modular bridges, erected at a cost of about $3 million, will stand in for the permanent structures over the GO/Metrolinx tracks and the Gardiner, which are not expected to be completed until 2019.

"The permanent work at this site is a complex project," says Frank Clarizio, director fo capital works delivery for the city. "In addition, the elevation of Dufferin Street will be raised to allow for the extra vertical clearance required for the future electrification of the rail corridor. The schedule for the work will also depend on other major Transportation projects planned for the area."

The design of the new bridge is being worked out now, and its construction schedule set. The cost of the permanent work will be about $20 million.

The old bridge was closed to traffic on June 12, 2013, and to pedestrians on Oct. 9. The 101-year-old structure was demolished on Dec. 2.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Frank Calrizio

John Campbell talks the future of the Waterfront

A lot of people will soon be inhabiting the Waterfront, all ultimately gathered in an area that has, traditionally, been more or less unserved by transit, given its largely industrial heritage, making the roll-out of transit options, from mass transit to bicycle access to roads for cars, of paramount importance in the coming years.

On March 25, Waterfront CEO John Campbell and First Gulf CEO David Gerofsky had a conversation about the Waterfront's future and its present city-building initiatives under the moderation of Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure. The title of the discussion was "Connecting the Dots: Waterfront Roads, Rail and Redevelopment."

Both CEOs have played a role in creating entire neighbourhoods (First Gulf is responsible for redeveloping the former Lever Brothers lands), making them both familiar with the obstacles and opportunities specific to this rarefied form of city-building.

"Developing an entire neighbourhood requires a big vision and a well-thought out fully integrated plan," Campbell told Yonge Street after the event. "In order to create a vital and inclusive neigbourhood you need to ensure that there is a complimentary mix of residences, commercial and retail space, and public spaces. Having a well-thought out plan ensures that you avoid having uses that don’t fit and need to be fixed or adjusted afterwards. You also have to ensure that you have the necessary infrastructure in place to support the needs of the community – now and in the future. 
"Waterfront Toronto’s approach has always been strategic revitalization as opposed to simple real estate development. We take an integrated planning and design approach that looks not just at buildings but at all the things that make great cities, such as street networks that link to the rest of the city and scale that fosters a good sense of community, walkability and balancing all modes of transportation. We also emphasize parks and public spaces, and we design in a way that’s environmentally and economically sustainable."

Campbell listed public cynicism, limited resources, global competition and complexity as the main challenges behind creating communities from whoe cloth.

Though the benefits are at least as redoubtable. Campbell said that the $1.26 billion that has been invested in the Waterfront is generating $3.2 billion of economic output, $622 million in government revenues, and 16,200 years worth of full-time employment.

Included in this is $2.6 billion of development, which he helpfully spelled out for the audience. Bayside Development is worth $910 million, the PanAm/ParaPan athletes’ village $814 million, River City $383 million, Monde condos $276 million, Toronto Community Housing $95 million, and George Brown College’s Health Sciences campus $85 million.

In addition to that, Campbell claimed there were 44 recent or planned developments on privately owned land adjacent to Waterfront lands that is capitalizing on Waterfront infrastructure to the tune of $9.6 billion.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: John Campbell

New density a potential boon to Billy Bishop

According to data collected for Yonge Street Media, the new density in the core could radically alter the way an expanded downtown airport could be used.

The numbers, compiled by the policy and analysis section of the city’s planning division, report that about 30,000 people live and work within a 10-minute walk of Billy Bishop airport, and 600,000 within a 10-minute bike ride. Though at the moment one of the chief criticisms of an expanded airport, and even of the airport in its current state, is traffic congestion. But as more people move into the buildings in the vicinity -- including an entirely new neighbourhood planned less than a kilometre away at Front and Bathurst -- the benefits of an airport in the core may become ever more apparent.

According to a November report by BA Group prepared for the city, currently 35 per cent of passengers do not use cars of any sort to get to the airport. The report projects that number increasing to either 45 per cent or 50 per cent if shuttle and/or transit service to the airport is improved.

"The percentage of people who use other means to this airport is much higher than somewhere like Pearson," says Porter spokesman Brad Cicero.

The report did not look into the possible repercussions of the city's active encouragement of walking or cycling.

According to Porter, there are currently 2.3 million passengers using the island airport, of which 17 per cent -- or 390,000 -- are connecting passengers who never leave the terminal. Porter estimates this number would rise to between 25 per cent and 27 per cent should the new routes proposed by the use of jets be added.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: BA Group, Brad Cicero

Have your say: tomorrow's the deadline to comment on the future of the east Gardiner

Tomorrow is the deadline to communicate your thoughts on the future of the east Gardiner.

About 200 people showed up to the third and final public meeting for the environmental assessment of the 2.4 km stretch of elevated highway on Feb. 6, which was also streamed live.

The section in question runs from Jarvis to just east of the Don Valley Parkway. The options being evaluated are to maintain it, "improve the urban fabric" while maintaining it, replace it with a new expressway of some sort, or remove it and build a boulevard. The options, as developed by the city and Waterfront Toronto, are on view here.

According to the environmental assessment, the four goals of the project are to reconnect the city with the lake; balance various modes of travel, cycling, walking and transit along with the previously favoured cars; achieving greater sustainability; and generally creating value, letting the project act as a catalyst for future development of the area.

After taking a look at the proposals, and scrolling through the Twitter conversation hashtagged #GardinerEast, you can send in your thoughts by filling out the form here before the end of the day tomorrow.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Waterfront Toronto

Toronto officially one of the 7 most intelligent cities in the world

In proof that a city is more than its political parts, Toronto has been named one of the world’s 7 most intelligent communities.

The designation comes from the Intelligent Community Forum, the 13-year-old international organization that rates communities based on "policies and practices that are creating positive economic, governing and social activity."

The 2014 shortlist is the most geographically concentrated in the ICF’s history, with two cities each from Taiwan and the US, and three from Canada.

The list includes Hsinchu City and New Taipei City in Taiwan, Arlington, Virginia, and Columbus, Ohio, and Kingston, Winnipeg and Toronto.

According to the ICF, Toronto is cited specifically for its "renowned waterfront development that will provide Internet at 500 times the speed of conventional residential networks."

Representatives from the ICF will be visiting the shortlisted cities over the next several months, and the final decision will be made in New York City in June.

According to Kristina Verner, Waterfront Toronto’s director of Intelligent Communities, the importance of this designation "is largely economic development, in terms of brand recognition that there is the technological capacity, as well as the innovation and workforce capacity, for emerging businesses."

Last year’s winner was Taichung City, Taiwan. Toronto was also on last year's shortlist.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Kristina Verner
135 Transportation Articles | Page: | Show All
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