Subway, bus lanes would ease gridlock around York

With the start of classes last week, The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star on Sept. 12 highlighted the traffic congestion and lineups at York University, made greater, they said, by a surge in first-year students due to Ontario’s double cohort.

The Globe said York officials have been planning for years how to ease the lineups and help students move along quickly. Andy Wickens, assistant vice-president of campus services and business operations, told the newspaper that although York is building new parking lots, the university has given priority to reducing the number of cars on campus. “We’re going to have over 1,000 buses a day coming on campus, which is a significant expansion from a few years ago.” To deal with more students on campus this fall, Wickens said, the York University Bookstore expanded the number of people at the cash registers and put additional staff at the information counter. With these added services, he said, it now takes a student around seven minutes to line up and pay for books, compared with 13 minutes last year. “It’s busy, but things are moving quite rapidly,” he said. 

The Star described the gridlock at York and interviewed officials who touted a subway extension as the ultimate fix.  “It takes 12 minutes to come from Downsview at 11 o’clock on a Thursday morning, but it might take an hour at 5:15 this afternoon,” said Ted Spence, York’s senior policy adviser. “These roads are absolutely gridlocked. There’s no doubt the real solution here is a subway extension from Downsview. We’d relieve a lot of this traffic and we’d open the roads.” 

The Star noted improvements in service to York over the past few years. In 1999, there were only 575 daily bus trips compared with today’s 1,000. The goal is a subway, said the paper, but that could be 10 to 20 years off. The more realistic near-term hope, it said, is for a bus right-of-way up Keele or perhaps along an unused hydro right-of-way, something city traffic managers are contemplating.

‘Fat Files’ looks at low income, diabetes

In a series called “Fat Files,” the National Post Sept. 12 included Dennis Raphael, a health policy professor at York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, in a growing group of researchers who believe growing up poor, or feeling poor, makes you fat. “In Ontario, the risk of diabetes is four times higher in low-income women than high income,” Raphael told the Post. Diabetes mellitus, a common complication of obesity, is twice as common among middle-aged Canadians with household incomes less than $30,000 than those living in households with incomes of $60,000 or higher, said the Post. And rates have increased sharply since the mid-1980s. Raphael says the shift to more conservative governments around the world is a big factor. “If you’re serious about population health, and if you’re serious about heart disease and diabetes, then you don’t want to create the kind of policy environments we’ve been creating in Ontario and in Canada,” he said.

On air

  • An interview with James Laxer, political science professor at York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, about his new book, The Border: Canada, the US and Dispatches from the 49th Parallel, was aired CBC Radio programs in Victoria, Vancouver and Sudbury Sept. 11. The book has just been published by Doubleday Canada. It explores what it means to be Canadian and what Canada means to the giant to the south before and after Sept. 11 terrorist attack two years ago. Laxer was also one of several guests discussing the impact of Sept. 11, and its ardent remembrance, with reporter Bill Cameron on “Michael Coren Live” (CTS-TV), Toronto, Sept. 11.
  • Howard Adelman, York University professor emeritus and refugee studies expert, commented on Canada’s controversial procedures of detaining suspected terrorists in the wake of the recent arrest of 21 men, in a feature aired Sept. 11 on CBC Radio’s “The World at Six.” Adelman said: “If there is really solid ground for their being terrorists, I don’t think they would be deported. That’s the thing. It’s a catch-22! You suspect them of terrorism; if you don’t know for sure they are terrorists, you deport them. So, you don’t have real good grounds for suspecting them of being terrorists, presumably, but if they really are terrorists, then you wouldn’t deport them.”
  • Bernie Wolf, professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, said all three provincial parties’ election promises are unrealistic and aren’t without costs, in an interview on CFRA-AM’s “Business@Night” Sept. 11.
  • Stephen Hellman, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, was interviewed on “Studio Aperto” (CFMT-TV), Toronto, Sept. 11.