Subway to York on TTC ’s wish list

The Toronto Transit Commission can think of plenty of ways to spend its gas tax money, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 21. The $81.5 million it will receive the first year would help kickstart its “Ridership Growth Strategy,” and the $162.5 million in the third year suits the timing for new subway construction. TTC officials have repeatedly said that if they had extra, predictable and sufficient funding, they would return to a program of building a kilometre or two of subway a year. It would cost about $1.75 billion to complete the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Town Centre and about $1.2 billion to extend the Spadina subway to York University. The argument would be whether to extend Sheppard or build to York first. Sheppard has suffered low ridership, but would likely thrive if completed to Scarborough. The case for York is very strong, especially with the announcement of a 25,000-seat stadium to open there in 2006. But if the federal Liberal election promise to commit 5 cents a litre of its share of gas revenues to municipalities – primarily for transit – is implemented, the TTC might just decide to forge ahead with both at the same time.

The TTC will introduce weekly Metropasses in May and will investigate bringing “European-style” light-rail transit across the city, but it remains in a logjam with York University over a bus-only corridor, said the Star. On Oct. 20, commissioners voted to delay for a month a decision on the route for a $30-million dedicated busway to York University, reported the Star and the Toronto Sun.

Nisga’a leading the way to self-government

Inside the soaring wood-panelled House of Laws chamber where the Nisga’a’s 39 elected legislators meet, chief executive officer Edward Allen talks about how negotiating self-government is a “smorgasbord,” reported the Vancouver Sun Oct. 21. With a degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Kitsilano-raised Allen moved to New Aiyansh on BC’s northwest coast 11 years ago and has become one of the main legal minds behind the complex implementation of Nisga’a self-government. His opinion is increasingly being sought by other Aboriginal negotiators. Taking control of one’s own destiny is like a smorgasbord, Allen said, because the Nisga’a and other B.C. tribal groups have to make hard choices about which new rights and responsibilities to fight for and take on. Do they go for hard cash? Do they emphasize protecting their culture? Do they take over policing? Focus on tourism? So far, the Nisga’a have been emphasizing gaining control over their large wilderness’ natural resources.

York prof on DVD-server team

Last year, Waterloo-based Kaleidescape Inc. launched its first product – a DVD server onto which users can copy all their DVDs and make them instantly available to any TV in the house connected to the system, reported The Record in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge Oct. 21. For people with collections of hundreds of DVDs, it means never having to rummage through stacks of DVD boxes looking for a particular title. The company’s chief scientist, Steve Watson, is a mathematics professor at York University. Watson has developed a method that makes it possible to fingerprint video for forensic purposes. With the technology, the original source of any video can be identified, and Kaleidescape plans to use the technology to reduce illegal copying of content.

Stadium location, location, location

As Toronto Argonaut officials worked hard to explain, home is wherever the neighbours are willing to humour you and 25,000 of your closest friends – no matter whether that be downtown, uptown or all-but-out of town, began an Oct. 19 National Post story picked up by CanWest News Service about the future football stadium at York U.

“There’s a fond spot in our hearts for this school, but ultimately the decision to where the stadium goes is not based on emotion, it’s based on intelligence. And our feeling is, very strongly, this will be the best place to put a stadium in the [Greater Toronto Area],” said Argos co-owner and former York student Howard Sokolowski, whose partner in the team, David Cynamon, is a former York football player.

Cynamon said, “One thing is certain: the venue here will be a much greater fan experience than it ever would have been downtown we have a much better footprint to work with.” Unlike the University of Toronto venue, there will be no outer track, meaning fans will be closer to the field. Additionally, the ample space will provide for tailgating and picnics before and after Argos games. “I really wanted the tailgate concept and all of that,” Argos head coach Mike Clemons said Monday. “I’m able to say that out loud. They kind of made me stifle that when we were talking about the Varsity project.”

Tennis Canada president and CEO Michael Downey heard the same concerns about York’s accessibility when the Rexall Centre was built. Monday, Oct. 18, he was confident his new neighbour would only further allay any stigmas that may come with the location. “We just need to get that message out to more people,” he said. “And that’s what’s great about today’s news. It’s more reason for people to realize that York University is actually quite convenient to get to. The more world-class facilities that are up here, the more that debate actually diminishes.”

Not helping in that regard was Toronto Mayor David Miller, said the Post. “York, I think, would have been the city’s third choice,” he said, noting Varsity was the second option behind the Exhibition grounds, which were eliminated from contention before Miller took office. “The key issue for us is transportation. Facilities like this need a range of transportation alternatives beyond the car. And, at the moment, major events in a stadium of this size at York would be predominantly served by car.” Though satisfied York brings with it new advantages and a new community, Miller said it seems unlikely it will bring a subway extension. “I think it will ensure that the bus-way that we’re contemplating goes ahead because the stadium can’t work without that bus-way. So I’m sure York will be very cooperative in helping make that happen,” he said. “With respect to the subway, it’s pretty simple, we just need a cheque for $1.4-billion from the federal government and we’d build it tomorrow.”

Other coverage included:

  • A North York Mirror story Oct. 20 featuring a photo of York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden getting a handoff from Toronto Argonauts head coach Mike “Pinball” Clemons also appeared in sister Metroland papers throughout Greater Toronto Area. The Mirror reported that Ward 7 Councillor Peter Li Preti (York West) said the introduction of the new stadium may eventually pave the way for a long-discussed subway link to the University. “On one hand it’s very exciting for the community and business in the area, but it also presents challenges with transportation,” said Li Preti, who has long favoured a subway link to York. “I think the city has to play a major role here and hopefully we’ll be able to address these transportation needs.”
  • No track, no games, lamented the Toronto Star’s Dave Perkins. The planned York University football/soccer stadium will contain no running track circling the field. It will preclude this city from further wasting its time chasing after the Commonwealth Games for 2014, which has been out there quietly bubbling for a couple of years, he wrote.
  • When the Argonauts moved indoors at the SkyDome for the 1989 season, everyone thought a new era was dawning, wrote the Toronto Star’s Garth Woolsey. “It never dawned on most of us back then, that the palace, the stadium of wonders, would become a liability for the CFL in no time at all. It was unimaginable back then that only 15 years later the Argonauts would be poised to move back outdoors, to the suburbs, to a facility with fewer seats than they have in Regina, or Ottawa, or anywhere but Montreal, some of the time anyway.”
  • Jim Richards, host of the “Jim Richards Show” on CFRB-AM in Toronto called out Miller for saying that the Argos’ new stadium would be better downtown than at York University. He said Miller should remember that Toronto includes North York.

Canadian business schools as good as American

A study in May by the Environics Research Group found that 79 per cent of Canadian senior executives believe Canadian business schools are just as good as US business schools, wrote Sharda Prashad, who is completing her studies this year in the Joint Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program, in an article for the Toronto Star Oct. 21. Canadian MBA programs have moved up in global rankings, such as those published by the Financial Times of London and The Economist, she reported. Where you want to work can also influence where to go for an MBA, she wrote, citing the example of Yvan Champagne, senior director at Blast Radius Inc. He completed his MBA in Canada because he wanted his alumni network here. He wants to raise his family in Canada and have a career here. While international contacts are a bonus, Champagne wants to focus on creating a national network. So he enrolled in the Joint Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program.

MBAs need to add soft skills

Although MBA graduates continue to be well regarded for their analytical business skills, employers and educators think they need to develop other skills, such as communication, leadership and team-building, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 21. “You can’t learn to conduct business in a classroom,” said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “That’s why the really good business schools have lots of action learning assignments where students work with real world issues.”

Being bilingual helps keep brain sharp

A new study by York University psychologist Ellen Bialystok finds that being bilingual helps people keep their “mental edge” as they age, reported The Hamilton Spectator Oct. 21. “Being bilingual is like going to a brain gym,” said Bialystok, whose research is in the American Psychological Association’s journal, Psychology and Aging.