Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Karen Stintz wanders in to school board Territory

I have come out in support of John Tory's candidacy for the office of Mayor of Toronto. However, this should not suggest that I cannot appreciate the plans coming from other candidates. Sarah Thomson, in particular, I think has some very thoughtful ideas. But yesterday, Karen Stintz, the former Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), came out with an innovative and ingenious idea. She proposed opening access to city and school board owned fields.

Some of what Stintz is proposing will seek assistance from the private sector to repair and improve fields. While not a guarantee to work, this would be welcome, as it would finally get away from the Miller-Ford record of raising property taxes and begging the higher orders of government for more public cash.

More importantly, Stintz is proposing consolidating operations between city and board owned sport facilities, while also limiting a board's ability to sell property in areas where fields are scarce. While this weighs into an area that is arguably out of the reach of the Office of the Mayor, Stintz should be commended for finally standing up to school board chairs, in particular Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Chair Chris Bolton and his allies like York Centre Trustee Howard Kaplan, who have long advocated spending while selling key assets. The Miller-Ford administration was always too fearful to wade into such waters.

The fact is, citizens do not care who owns their public fields. They just want them to be there when the need them. Having the City and the four school boards work together is absolutely necessary to make this happen. This will prevent future Mayor and school board representatives from having to turn their pockets inside out in front of the Premier; something we have seen far to much of during the tenures of both Bolton and Ford.

Kudos to Ms. Stintz. I still intend to vote for John, but I do hope this is an idea that he is willing to implement should he become the next Mayor.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Justice for pedestrians

I've often said, "For all the talk in the City of Toronto about 'the car' v. 'the bike', this is a city that is not very pedestrian friendly."

I am all for a discussion of better cycling infrastructure and making a commute easier for drivers. But let us not forget the other individuals here. Pedestrians make up a large cross section of our city. As one myself, I walk anywhere within approximately ten blocks (in any direction) of my home.

From the moment we, as pedestrians, step onto a sidewalk we are competing with those operating some form mobile that can cause us harm. Cyclists, who are subject to the Motor Vehicle Act under the law, often operating their vehicle on in what should be a pedestrian-only lane; the sidewalk. Many pay very little regard for to those walking.

Worse still, is every single intersection in the City. Now we are forced to compete with cyclists AND motor vehicles. Where cyclists have chosen to ignore all standard laws, drivers simply do not care to pay attention.
Since moving back to Toronto from Sudbury in six years ago I have felt this is an accident waiting to happen. But what prompted me to write this today?

Well yesterday, my wife was hit by a car.

Yes. You read that correctly.

She was lucky enough to come out of this altercation more or less okay. But this incident should be a lesson to drivers and cyclists across this city. LOOK BOTH WAYS!

Pedestrians are vulnerable. Just because we cannot injure you, does not mean you cannot injure us. Do not merely watch out for oncoming traffic, but also for those crossing at legitimate cross walks.

Government can help too; especially in school zones. The Toronto District School Board and the City of Toronto have a responsibility to citizens to protect them when other citizens will not take the responsibility to do it for them.

I am calling on the City to better post speed limits and stop signs at four way stops. The police should also make sure to properly ticket those infringing upon the motor vehicle act. This includes cyclists on sidewalks. Polices services can also assist by posting more crossing guards in and nearby school zones.

It is unfortunate, but government must remember: an individual is smart, but people are stupid. They do not pay attention and they do not care. Yesterday proved this.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Oh, Doug Ford...

Doug Ford, the campaign manager of scandal ridden brother and Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford, has done something very important. He has opened up the world to the trials and difficulties of what it means to be a parent of or an individual living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Given his comments regarding the subject this was clearly not his intention.

After showing up twenty-five minutes late for a meeting his office organized Doug Ford, who is also the councillor for Ward 2 – Etobicoke North, made a number of very offensive comments regarding the residents of a residential group home known as the Griffin Centre.

The Griffin Centre houses developmentally disabled youth with mental health issues. Some of the youth residing there happen to have ASD. Given the particular concerns with some of the residents there may be an occasion in which emergency services must be called in to provide assistance. This should not be considered unusual. Given the amount of time emergency services had found themselves at the Mayor’s personal residence I would have expected Councillor Ford to understand the necessity of an emergency service professional from time to time. However, that does not appear to be the case. Following a strange campaign-style comment regarding the city needing more subways (side note: the Ford plan for transit would not include a subway extension to anywhere in Etobicoke) Councillor Ford has seemingly made up his mind long before the meeting had begun. Following the verbal abuse from residents of the Kipling Avenue and West Humber Boulevard Area, Griffin Centre staff was forced to hear their local councillor attack them, stating, “We can’t have fire truck and police cars and EMS there all the time and eight cars parked on the street. You’ve ruined the community.”

He continued, “You can’t destroy a community like this. People have worked thirty years for their home... My heart goes out to kids with autism. But no one told me they’d be leaving the house. If it comes down to it, I’ll buy the house myself and resell it.”

The comment about forcefully purchasing the house and reselling it is an odd one. Anyone with a conservative belief of personal property and the need to keep government out of such business would oppose such action. Councillor and Mayor Ford have previously professed a belief in such policy. However, that appears to have been one of the many lies they have found themselves caught in.

The comment regarding autistic children is just plain offensive. This is where it gets personal for me. I am the parent of a five and half year old little girl who loves to sing and dance and is incredibly intelligent and happens to be on the ASD spectrum. Believe me when I say when you attack her you attack me. And when you attack one member of ‘autism nation’ you attack us all.

Ford Family; you have mobilized some of the most determined people around. We are the parents of and those living with ASD. And year will be hearing from us. Ford Nation will come and go, but autism nation is not going anywhere.

We will be seeing you on the campaign trail.