Tag

sarah thomson

Browsing

Extreme cold shuts down too many streetcars

By Sarah Thomson

With 28 street cars pulled out of service Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning due to extreme cold a question many should be asking, is what will happen as global warming causes more extreme weather conditions for Toronto? Ice storms and snow storms also play havoc with above ground transit. The T.T.C. has announced they’ll have busses runnng to fill in where they can -502 Dowtown, 503 Kingston Road & 511 Bathurst – check transit app to get updated times.

Major cities around the world invest in underground transit. With the extreme weather predicted for Toronto’s long-term future, it makes the larger investment today all the more reasonable. Toronto must begin to look at transit planning through a bigger lens than merely cost. The last time Toronto’s subway shut down fully was during the July 2013 flood when all major highways and transit in the city was shut down for a few hours at the height of the flood.

The subway system has proven over the years to be the most reliable system through the winter months, but we have to invest in it. It is an aging system in need of significant upgrades and investment, and remarkably small system given the growth of Toronto ove the past two decades.

The downtown relief line running under Queen Street and joining up with Eglinton Street at either end is still the most important subway line that Toronto needs to build. Unfortunately political maneuvering continues to stall it’s progress. With so few politicians willing to stand up for the dedicated transit that is needed to fund such a project.

While Mayor Tory announced his Smart Track as an alternative for the downtown relief line, the truth is that it too will suffer from the increasing extreme weather conditions (primarily winter conditions) that Toronto is expecting over the next few decades. And while his Tax Increment Financing (TIF) may have seemed the perfect solution to transit funding during the election, it was merely a strategy for borrowing and it does not actually raise funding, but merely works as security for a loan. And unfortunately it will leave future generations forced to pay it back.

Personally I believe Mayor Tory knows that Tax Increment Financing is nothing more than a strategic campaign platform, it is not a funding tool but a financing strategy that has worked on small projects across North America.  He still has a lot more work to do when it comes to supporting the basket of revenue tools – increase in development fees, parking levies, sales taxes or tolls – that he has advocated for over the years.

But for some reason, with Tory at the helm, I can imagine a time when Toronto decides to invest in itself, when revenue tools have been put in place to generate funds that we can invest into our transit system. Add in a Federal transit funding strategy to the provincial and municipal funds and then our City will have a real choice – invest in below ground subway or cheaper above ground rail that continually shuts down during extreme weather conditions?  If the funding is there Toronto will build subways because they are a better long-term investment.

It’s time for Mayor Tory to get started on securing the dedicated transit funding tools that he’s advocated for over the past few years.  He’ll need all the help he can get, and each one of us can play a part in convincing our neighbours to support dedicated transit funding.

A courageous man once said “If anyone tells you that Toronto does not need revenue tools for transit, they aren’t being honest.”  It’s time again for that man to show courage.

TRAVEL: Planning a winter vacation? Think Costa Rica

By Sarah Thomson

After a long day of travel, leaving Toronto at 6 a.m. with American Airlines and a plane switch in Miami, we arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica by 2 p.m., picked up our rental vehicle and made our way to the coast. Taking the new highway from San Jose to Quepos took us approximately 3 hours and we arrived at Arenas Del Mar just as the sun was setting.

We were greeted by two friendly attendants who loaded our bags onto a large golf cart and shuttled us up a paved path, through the jungle, to our room; tree frogs and night bugs filling the canopy above us with their calls. Stopping at the reception area, with pool and bar, we picked up our key and were informed of the Calypso dinner being served on the beach.

Our room was a spectacular corner suite facing the ocean and beach. The polished wood accenting the windows and stone tiling was elegant. Heavy doors slid easily open to a huge wrap around balcony that could be accessed from both the master bedroom and living room (where the kids slept on a pull out couch that was made up and ready for them). The balcony off the master bedroom had lounge chairs and a huge Jacuzzi tub that overlooked the cliffs and sea below, around the corner the balcony off the living room had a couch and big comfy chairs. Trees surrounded us— the jungle sounds of bugs, birds and howler monkeys, combined with the luscious earthy smell of vegetation, made everything seem surreal.

Most of the living area is outside with large covered terraces providing shade and great views. We could see the lanterns on the beach burning, and hear the surf pounding against the rocks far below.

After pulling our swim suits from the luggage we changed and caught a chauffeured golf cart down the path to the pool (the golf carts ferry people up and down the path to the beach and reception area). We had a quick swim then changed for dinner and made our way to the candle lit beach. An area under the palm trees was filled with white linen covered tables and chairs.  A Calypso trio played soft music—without an amplifier. The music, with the rhythm of the waves in the background and the warm breeze combined to make it a beautiful evening. Dinner was fantastic and my 7-year-old was invited to play the maracas with the band and without any hesitation he was up there loving the attention (what he’s lacks in shyness he makes up for in smiles).

We woke up the next morning to the sound of the parakeets and toucans in the trees that surround our terrace.  The sun was just rising, and with it the jungle came to life.  Our boys’ excitement and desire to explore was infectious and we went for an early morning walk before going for our free breakfast. The resort has two beaches. One is secluded and protected by large rock outcroppings at either end and the other larger beach is part of Manuel Antonio National Park and stretches for miles.

It wasn’t long before the boys were soaked and playing in the waves. (*Note to parents: put them in bathing suits the moment they wake up because the ocean is warm and irresistible). As the sun began to rise and heat up the beach, we made our way back to the resort, changed and went for breakfast of fruit pancakes and delicious coffee.

Arenas Del Mar Nature Resort is an elegant introduction to the beauty of Costa Rica. It is by far one of my favourite hotels in the world, with a combination of elegance and design that works perfectly with the natural beauty of the jungle that surrounds it.

It is: quiet, calm, elegant, peaceful, natural, warm and amazing.

It is not: loud, party place, crowded, busy, cold and average.

I hope to come be back to this beautiful resort very soon.

 

Take a look at the beautiful beaches below.

 

 

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @ThomsonTO.

LISTEN: Sarah Thomson slams Ford for culture of homophobia and bullying

On today’s #TOpoli radio show panelists Sarah Thomson, Travis Myers, Andrea Houston, and Josh Rachlis discussed recent breaks in the brutal murder case of Christopher Skinner, a gay Toronto man who was run down in the Entertainment District.

In a bizarre twist it turns out that one of those apprehended, Nicholas Swaby, was a captain with the Don Bosco Eagles football team that Rob Ford coached. Swaby had spoken publicly in the past about what a great role model Ford was to him.

Listen to the panel discuss: was Ford’s culture of homophobia and bullying a contributing factor in the murder of Christopher Skinner?

This infographic sums up everything wrong with the Scarborough subway debate

Subways for Scarborough! LRTs for the city! Accessible transit now!

Why does it seem like, despite all the time that has passed since the death of Transit City we are having the same debates now that we did when David Miller was in office? Why does it seem that, with every passing day and every subway bandwagon jumped on by every politician at every level of government, the simple facts of the matter are being swept under the rug in favour of vote pandering?

Toronto Tweeter Ev Delen (@EvDelen) shows us the cold hard facts in this infographic.

Get ready for the most simple representation of everything wrong with the Scarborough subway debate — and everything wrong with the politicians pushing for subways.

 

References:

 

 

It all seems pretty simple now, doesn’t it?

 

 

You can follow Ev Delen on Twitter at @EvDelen.

You can follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

Toronto Transit Alliance shortlisted for ‘Best Clean Capitalism Project of the Year’

The Transit Alliance, led by Women’s Post publisher Sarah Thomson along with Sarah Patterson, has been shortlisted for the Clean50 award for Best Clean Capitalism Project for the year.

The purpose of the Clean50, created by Delta Management Group, is “to identify and recognize 50 individuals (or small teams) who have made the greatest contributions to sustainable development or clean capitalism in Canada.”

The group allows the public to choose the winner from the shortlisted top fifteen projects on their website.

 

 

 

For more information on the the Transit Alliance check out UnlockGridlock.ca

You can follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

My nightmare about Toronto’s Mayor

I had a nightmare last night.

I dreamt that I was running for Mayor again and was at a debate, it was ending and I had to stand beside Rob Ford for the usual pictures. We were lined up on the stage and as we organized I was trying to carefully put someone between myself and him because I had noticed that his eyes were glazed over, he’d been repeating the same line “stop the gravy train” over and over again, and I knew he was wasted.

 

I worried that he might grope me again, and tried to put someone between us but at the last minute they moved and I had to stand beside him and smile. I had trouble smiling thinking how much I’d grown to dislike him. I kept telling myself he’s an addict have sympathy. The next thing I knew his hand was on my butt. The cameras were clicking and I froze again. I wanted to punch him – but I had to control my anger. If I hit him a photo of it would be on the front page of the all newspapers – and it would set a terrible example for my sons. I controlled my anger.

 

I stepped away and looked behind me to see if anyone had witnessed it. Nobody seemed to be looking our way. I turned back to him and he had the same salacious grin on his face I’d seen once before. All the worries I’d felt then came rushing back to me.  What if a video of it appeared online? Would it look like I “liked” it. I was after all smiling for the camera’s. How would the press spin it? Would they frame it as a secret tryst between us? I could never let my husband be humiliated with that sort of thing. Should I get out in front of the story? But if nobody had seen it then wouldn’t it be better to stay quiet especially after what happened to me the last time I accused him.

 

Then it was suddenly the next morning and my phone was ringing. A  reporter was asking me if I was having a fling with Rob Ford and my heart started beating fast. i repeated the question loudly and my husband jumped out of bed and was on his laptop in no time. I excused myself from the call and looked over my husbands shoulder the headline read “Dirty Secret between Rob Ford and Sarah Thomson” and there was a picture of a meaty hand on my butt.

 

I screamed “No” and sat bolt upright in bed, me heart still racing from the nightmare. The boathouse was quiet and I could hear a loon call in the distance.