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.