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Report finds Island airport generates almost $2B

Our little Billy Bishop Airport generated almost $2 billion for the city last year.

That’s according to a study, commissioned by the Toronto Board of Trade and the Toronto Port Authority, that was released last week.

That money, roughly $1.9 billion, includes $640 million in gross domestic product, $290 million in wages for the 1,700 jobs directly associated with the airport and the 4,000 others that owe their existence to it indirectly. About $57 million is generated in taxes and payments in lieu of taxes.

"Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is more than a convenient transportation link into and out of the Toronto region," said president and CEO of the Board of Trade Carol Wilding in a prepared statement, "it is an economic driver vital to ensuring our economy remains globally competitive."

Though the airport first opened in 1939, it's only since 2006 when Porter began flying from it—hyping its convenience to a primarily business clientele and providing relatively high levels of service—that the airport became the economic and cultural force that it is.

Writer: Bert Archer

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Queens Quay eastbound closes till spring

As of Monday, the eastbound lanes of Queens Quay from Spadina to Bay are closed till spring.

It's the first stage of the $110-million redesign of the central section of the waterfront, planned in part by Waterfront Toronto, that is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2015.

Traffic is being redirected at Lower Spadina Avenue north to Lake Shore Boulevard. The TTC is also being diverted, and the stop at Rees is temporarily suspended, though pedestrian access to shops and homes will not be affected.

The second stage of the project, which will involve the north side of the street handling westbound traffic, will begin next summer once work on the south side of the 1.7-kilometre length of street has been completed.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: David Kusturin

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Second Union subway platform excavation complete

Excavation on the $137.5-million Union Station platform addition is now complete.

The project, which began in January of last year, will add another passenger platform on the south side of the rails to relieve the congestion on the current single platform. The TTC estimates that 250,000 people use the station each day, making it the sixth busiest station in the system.

In addition to the extra platform and expanded concourse, the project includes a new connection to the PATH system, access south to the waterfront and an elevator and ramp to link the station with Union’s rail station, which is also being overhauled.

The work is expected to be finished by 2014.

Workers are now occupied with demolition, pouring concrete and waterproofing .

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Samantha Gileno

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


First of the new streetcars rolls into town

The new streetcars have arrived.

Well, one of them, anyway.

Train 4400 came in on the rails last week, its slim, low-slung profile turning heads and fetching out the camera phones getting people talking about the next big transit thing.

We won't be able to board them for a while yet, probably not until 2014, in fact, says Jean-Pierre Boutrous, the former Formula 1 entrepreneur and current advisor to TTC chair Karen Stintz.

"It's the first delivery from Bombardier," he says of the Thunder Bay-built vehicle. "They're going to be putting it through its test internally, electronics, make it's ready for prime time. You don't necessarily transport these things with the electronics inside them."

Two hundred and four of the cars have been ordered, at a cost of a little under $6 million each, making for an investment of more than $1.1 billion over the course of the contract, which was signed in July 2009.

There will be a media event officially introducing the car to the public within the next couple of weeks, though Boutros doesn’t expect any car will be put on the tracks before early next year. What he refers to as "revenue service" for paying customers will not start until the year after.

In the meantime, drivers will be trained by Bombardier staff, tests will be run and changes will be ordered for future, as yet unbuilt cars.

"When the rockets came out," Boutros said of the new subway trains still being deployed across the system, "we ran them empty, at night, loaded with concrete bricks to simulate the weight of passengers," saying that the new streetcars will require similar batteries of tests before coming into service.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jean-Pierre Boutros

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Billy Bishop Airport tunnel progresses slowly

Construction of the tunnel to Billy Bishop Airport, announced with much fanfare at the beginning of the year, is continuing, but slowly.

According to the latest update, work this past week included excavation on the shaft located at the foot of Eireann Quay. "This excavation will involve the removal of soil and rock that will be trucked offsite for disposal" on the mainland side. On the island, in addition to continued utility work, "shaft walls are under construction. This work involves the excavation and filling (with steel and/or concrete) of a series of holes around the shaft’s perimeter."

The project, which proved so controversial in the lead-up to David Miller's first election as mayor, continues to draw fire.

"They have come through a very complex construction management plan," says councillor Adam Vaughan, in whose ward it's being built, “and to the disappointment of the community, they've already started violating the start-stop times."

The work, which can be noisy, is limited by the same restrictions placed on all non-emergency construction work in the city, starting no earlier than 7am, finishing no later than 7pm on weekdays. But Vaughan's office has received multiple noise complaints related to the site.

Vaughan says there are also plans to dump the excavated material into the inner harbour, both to dispose of it and to discourage boats from entering the airport's no-sail zone, But Vaughan says this plan would not so much dissuade boats from entering the area as run the ones that do aground.

The tunnel, originally budgeted at between $20 and $40 million, is currently estimated to cost $80 million, according to Vaughan, some of which is being paid for by new $20 passenger fees for Porter and Air Canada flights into and out of the island airport. The current estimated date of completion is summer 2014.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Councillor Adam Vaughan

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


CivicAction announces new regional transit 'champions council'

CivicAction announced its 27-member league of regional transportation “champions” this week.

The civic leaders, both senior and junior, from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, will be joining CivicAction chair John Tory and its CEO, Mitzie Hunter, to try to distill what the region’s residents figure are the most important aspects of regional transportation and, by getting them involved, hopefully build a coalition of the willing for whatever taxes will be necessary to build such a system.

“They’ll be leading discussions within their own communities,” Hunter says, taking the form of “in-person forums, online forums and we’ll be able to take this information that we hear back to government.”

The so-called Champions Council will seek to build on the momentum created by other jurisdictions recently, including such unliklely transit cities Los Angeles, Denver and Atlanta, where citizens voted for transportation-specific taxes to build systems they believed in. Specifically, they’ll looking for ways to raise the $40 billion that is required to fulfill the terms of the region’s 25-year transit plan.

The council will meet periodically between now and June 2013, when Metrolinx is due to present its investment strategy.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Mitzie Hunter

TTC calls for applications for new citizen board members

The TTC wants you to sit on their board.

That is, if you've got mad skills.

"Toronto deserves a TTC board with skilled citizen representation," says Mayor Rob Ford in the official invitation. "With the challenges facing transit, we need an experienced team of citizen commissioners."

TTC chair Karen Stintz is also looking for more than your average public minded citizen. In the same invitation, which went out on Monday, she says "There are many high profile capital projects and service improvement initiatives underway at the TTC that would greatly benefit from the experience and leadership of representatives of the population of Toronto."

The specific qualifications they're looking for, as outlined on the city's site, include experience in business management, financial management, marketing management, labour relations management, supply chain management and even public transit management.

At a rate of pay of $5,000 a year, plus $450 per meeting attended, it sounds like they're just looking for some very inexpensive managers.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Martin Herzog

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Final Munk Centre transportation talk centres on funding

The last of three high-level talks on mass urban transportation took place Monday.

The speaker was Richard Katz, chair of L.A.'s regional transit system, Metrolink. He is also on the board of the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and a former state legislator. His topic was transit funding.

Los Angeles has become an unlikely model of transit funding done well, and though not everything that's worked there can work in Toronto—L.A. imposed a sales tax, for instance, which Toronto does not have the power to do—the principles are the same. Public support is essential, and generating it, through education and publicity, is the sine qua non of a well-funded system.

The talks were sponsored by the Munk School of Global Affairs, and held at the theatre at the school's Devonshire Place campus.

Writer: Bert Archer

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Start inputting detours into your GPS: The $140M roadwork season begins

Drivers will be pleased to hear that roadwork season has begun.

According to Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, more than $140 million will be spent on road and bridge improvements this spring and summer.

"We must continue to ensure that work is coordinated in order to minimize disruptions to the public," Minnan-Wong said, providing cold comfort to people taking the roughly five million car trips a day around the GTA.

The city lists the areas of major work as Spadina Avenue from Bremner Boulevard to King Street West, Danforth Road from Midland Avenue to McCowan Road, Burnhamthorpe Road from Martin Grove Road to The East Mall, Finch Avenue from Bayview Avenue to the Don River, and Wilson Avenue from Dufferin Street to Keele Street.

The city also took the opportunity to announce that on average, it has filled 225,000 potholes each year for the past three years.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Denzil Minnan-Wong

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


City looks to find its way through wayfinding challenges

The city's holding its first public meeting on the subject of wayfinding.

Defined as the comprehensive way people—both residents and visitors—find their way around, wayfinding includes signs, maps, lighting, street furniture and new media possibilities. The March 28 public open house emerges from a 2010 proposal to figure out ways to improve the existing situation. "The growth in visitor numbers, and the 2015 Pan Am Games makes this a timely opportunity to take the initial steps towards delivery of this goal," states the info sheet.

The most prominent aspect of the city's current wayfinding system at the moment is PATH, the often confusing series of signs and maps meant to help people find their way through the tunnels, lobbies, food courts and other indoor routes in the financial district between Union Station and Eaton Centre.

Current problems for visitor wayfinding include overly modest street- and subway-level indications of major tourist attractions, such as the AGO, the Hockey Hall of Fame and Casa Loma.

Steve Johnston, the city's senior communications coordinator, says the first meeting is intended to discuss the first phase of the wayfinding project, which is to "establish principles and an implementation strategy, identify potential funding sources and define the parameters of a pilot project that will be presented to Toronto City Council."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Johnston

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Former Vancouver transit exec makes case for public-private partnerships

Jane Bird, former chief executive of Vancouver's Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc., is in town March 26 to talk about the role the private sector can play in mass transit.

With Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford apparently at his Waterloo on the subject, the timing couldn't be better.

Currently the president and CEO of Columbia Power Corp., Bird was instrumental in developing the $2-billion, 19km Canada Line. An elevated train that connects the Vancouver airport to Richmond and the downtown core, it's widely considered a model of its kind.

Bird will discuss the pros and cons of getting private funding involved in what is usually referred to as public transportation, making the case that private participation can inspire the usually purely bureaucratic process to new levels of innovation without losing sight of public service.

The talk will be held from 4pm to 6pm at the Munk School of Global Affairs at 1 Devonshire Place.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Andrea Ellison

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Transit expert points out what TO can learn from LA and Denver

When Toronto transit has something to learn from Los Angeles, you know something's gone wrong.

Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and director of its Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, spoke at the Munk School of Global Affairs on February 27 about the importance of transit in the development of a mature and growing city.

He talked to Yonge Street before his presentation about some of the primary issues, and as it turns out, both Los Angeles and Denver have done some things Puentes figures other growing cities, like Toronto, can learn from.

"The main thing," Puentes says, "one would not want to do is plan in isolation; the transit for transit's sake approach. In the US, we waste a lot of money that way. Given this larger preoccupation, obsession I should say, with this shift from a consumption-based economy to something more productive, like advances manufacturing, trying to find a way to connect transit investment to those economic ends is a way to garner not just political support, but support from the general public."

Denver, he says, has planned its transit growth to match areas of projected population growth, seeing it not just as a way to get people from place to place, but to transform the city into a more productive place. And Los Angeles, long known as the city with the subway no one knows about, got two-thirds approval from voters during the recession from a mayor who made the case for extending that subway down Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica. Voters agreed to a half per cent increase in sales tax that’s expected to generate as much as $40 billion over the next 30 years. Voters in Denver did something similar, under a similarly good mayor, whose since has become governor.

"If we do believe that low carbon is going to be something that we're going to have to do long term," Puentes says, "not just as an environmental imperative, but as a market imperative... if these metropolitan areas are going to be economically healthy in the future, they're going to have to have options for transit that can't be car-oriented."

The other two talks in the series will be held on March 26 and April 16 at the Munk School from 4pm to 6pm.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Robert Puentes

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Public to get another chance to comment on redesign of Front Street at Union tomorrow

The latest and possibly final version of the study for Front Street at Union Station will be presented at a public meeting this week at City Hall.

The results of the environmental assessment for the proposed changes to the bit of Front between Bay and York that separates the Royal York Hotel from Union Station will be voted on by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, with deputations from the public, as well as various interest groups.

"There's interest by the cycling community in having bike lanes and seeing how cycling is treated in the recommended plan," says Stephen Schijns, the manager of infrastructure planning for the transportation division. "There’s interest from the taxi industry in how curbside space is allocated. There's interest from the Royal York and from Union Station and the owners of the Royal Bank building, but those are normally dealt with one-on-one rather than in a committee setting."

If the document is approved, it moves onto City Council for consideration. If approved there, the plan is opened up to the public for a further 30 days. If at the end of that time there is no other significant concern, the project is approved and can be implemented.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Stephen Schijns

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Work begins on 2015 Pan Am athletes village

Work has begun on the athletes village for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, a development that will add 1,040 residential units to the Waterfront.

Dundee Kilmer are the developers who signed the $514-million fixed-price contract with the province to develop the site.

The architects are KPMB, Architects Alliance, Doaust LeStage, TEN Arquitectos and MacLennan Jaunkains MillerEllis DonLedcor PAAV Inc. are the builders.

In addition to the residences, the project will add a new streetcar line along Cherry Street, an 82,000-square-foot YMCA and a student residence for the new Waterfront campus of George Brown College (the college's first residence).

Seven hundred and eighty-seven of the residential units will ultimately be designated market value, while the remaining 253 will be low-cost rentals.

The goal is to get the entire project certified LEED Gold.

Those involved are betting the project will be completed before July 10, 2015, when the Pan American Games begin. The Parapan American Games run August 7-14.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Tari Stork

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Old Weston Village gets $23,750 neighbourhood improvement grant

Weston Village is getting a little boost that may turn into a major uplift.

Last month, it was announced that a plan to brush up John Street, the current site of a weekly farmer's market, and the future site of a Metrolinx stop on the way from Union Station to the airport, would get a $23,750 grant to help with the costs of designing and then implementing a plan to possibly pedestrianize and otherwise revitalize the street.

The grant came from the Urban Land Institute, a US-based organization that "promotes good land use and sustainable communities," according to its district council chair for Toronto, lawyer Mark Noskiewicz.

Though the grant is small, it is intended to spur investment from public-private partnerships. "The grant was announced last month, as we've already leveraged the $23,000 into $75,000 to $80,000" from the city and Metrolinx, Noskiewicz says.

The plan now is to use that money to complete the design and, if funds continue to flow in for the project, possibly even get the construction done by June of next year.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Mark Noskiewicz

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.
135 transportation Articles | Page: | Show All
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