Transit watchdog slams Downsview congestion

In his column in Metro News Oct. 10, transit watcher Ed Drass addressed a letter-writer’s complaint about bus service to York University. Drass, a York grad, said the double cohort has put even more pressure on bus service in an already congested area. “Formidable traffic congestion on streets between the subway and the university can cause bus schedules to collapse under the pressure, resulting in big gaps in service and buses bunching together,” he wrote. Drass quoted Bill Dawson, superintendent of route planning for the TTC: “We really can’t cope with the road congestion between Downsview station and York University in any reasonable way right now.”

Drass cited York spokesperson Nancy White as saying that university and transit officials are considering adding alternate bus stop locations to reduce transit gridlock in the centre of campus. She also said York has been working to secure support for extending the subway from Downsview station, including from the principal candidates for mayor of Toronto, who have all “recognized the need to extend the Yonge-Spadina subway to York University.”

Until the subway is extended to York, what the TTC really wants is an exclusive bus route that bypasses the worst traffic bottlenecks, perhaps using a nearby hydro corridor, said Dawson. Although this project can be completed much sooner than a subway, it would not be in place this school year, wrote Drass.

Lives Lived – William W. Small

The Globe & Mail printed a tribute Oct. 10 to the late William Small, a former York University administrator and professor after whom the William Small Centre (formerly Parking Structure II) has been named. Written by his brother John Small and brother-in-law Stephen Endicott, the tribute traces his life from a childhood in China, where he was born in 1917 to Canadian missionaries, to his death on Feb. 4, aged 85. Small joined York as it was starting up and eventually became its vice-president of administration, guiding it through the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, they wrote. “While handling his financial duties, he expressed his continuing attachment to China by teaching courses in Chinese cultural history.” On Aug. 11, to honour Small’s contributions to York University and Canada-China relations, York dedicated a new administration and computing commons building: the William Small Centre.

When will all provinces allow same-sex marriage?

After groups fighting same-sex marriage lost a major battle in Canada’s top court last Thursday, a spokesman for Canadians for Equal Marriage wondered when the federal government would extend same-sex marriage rights to all Canadians, reported Canadian Press Oct. 9.  That’s uncertain at best, said Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Same-sex marriage legislation drafted under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien could change when Paul Martin takes over by February, he said. “There may be other ways of defining other categories of marriage that have not been considered.”

UN food report ignores special rapporteurs

A York University professor criticized a UN report on the food crisis in Palestinian-populated West Bank and Gaza that characterizes Israel’s security policy as a bid to inflict “collective punishment” on Palestinians and ignores the Israeli contention that it is aimed at preventing Palestinian terrorism, reported a CanWest News Service story out of the United Nations and carried Oct. 10 in the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post. “This report undermines the credibility of all the special rapporteurs, some of whom, like the rapporteur on violence against women, have done some very important work,” said Anne Bayefsky, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and a monitor of UN human rights issues.

Laxer’s latest book ‘most conservative’ he’s written

York University political scientist James Laxer says his latest book, The Border – Canada, the U.S. and Dispatches from the 49th Parallel, is the most conservative he has ever written, reported the Winnipeg Free Press Oct. 10. “I am on the left, but what this whole experience has led me to realize is that traditions matter, that you hang on to your country, that you don’t go leaping off into mad experiments and notions that we’re going to remake the human race,” he said. The terror attacks of Sept. 11 occurred halfway through his research, which took him from Campobello Island, NB, in the east to Point Roberts, Washington, in the west and along the Alaska panhandle. Canada faces the most serious crisis yet in its long struggle to retain its independence, he said. The nation’s corporate establishment has abandoned the Canadian project and wants the border erased entirely, Laxer said in a Winnipeg interview. “We are an extraordinary people and this is an extraordinary country…. There is no necessity [to become part of the US].” Laxer, who teaches in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, was also interviewed on the CBC Calgary’s call-in show “Wildrose Country” Oct. 9 about his book and Canada’s relationship with the United States, pre- and post-Sept. 11.