Ride-share plan to ease congestion in GTA

A new plan to lure commuters out of their cars and into sharing rides can benefit people on the bus, too, reported The Toronto Sun June 2. “It plays into what we’ve been advocating for bus rapid transit or HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes for a long time,” Gordon Chong, the vice-chair of GO said Wednesday at the launch of Smart Commute – a plan to ease congestion on GTA roads. Commuters and employers are being urged to put together ride-sharing plans and to entice people to use transit, bike, walk or work from home one day a week in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent.

The Smart Commute of North Toronto/Vaughan has been running in various forms since 2001, said Brian Shifman, its executive director. The organization runs a ride-matching service and worked with York University to improve its program to provide alternatives that keep about 4,000 cars from commuting to the school. Both Shifman and Chong believe the impetus for getting people out of their own cars and into someone else’s is going to come from employers who encourage the concept.

  • York University is one company that participates in the Smart Commute initiative to convince staff to find other commute options, reported Barrie’s “VR Land News” June 1. “VR Land News” and “CTV News” aired comments June 1 from Kimberley Glaze, a commuter and manager in York’s Facilities Services, about the initiative and the federal government’s announcement that it would invest $800 million in transit systems across the country.
  • CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” also mentioned the Smart Commute initiative and York’s involvement June 1.

Ontario Grits raised nearly $4M last year

Ontario’s Liberal party has “cashed in” on its success, says a political finance expert, by raising almost $4 million last year – about $1.5 million more than each of its two rival parties, reported the Ottawa Citizen June 2. “That makes sense in the context of what other governments have managed to do when they get into office. They tend to fall upon a windfall of fundraising,” said Robert MacDermid, a professor of political science in York University’s Faculty of Arts. “They’ve cashed in, too, on this.”

Elections Ontario released its annual party financial statements for 2004 on Wednesday. MacDermid said the numbers spell trouble for Conservatives, who, at year end, were saddled with a $7.6-million deficit. The Liberal ($3.7 million) and New Democrat ($1.9 million) deficits were significantly lower. “Clearly [Conservative leader John] Tory has a big job there, refreshing funding sources for the party if he wants to get it out of debt and get it ready for the next election,” MacDermid said.

Russell Crowe beats up York grad

Mark Simmons was once one of the top amateur heavyweight boxers in the world. Now he’s selling drugs. And what’s more, he laid a beating on a major Hollywood star last year, reported The Toronto Sun June 2. No, Simmons’s life has not spiralled out of control. The Toronto native is completely legit. Simmons earned a science degree from York University in 2000 and works as a pharmaceutical sales representative with Wyeth Consumer Healthcare. As for the beating, the 1998 Commonwealth Games champion played the part of old-time fighter Art Lasky in the movie Cinderella Man, starring Australian actor Russell Crowe, which opens here Friday. Director Ron Howard had scheduled five days last summer to shoot the fight scene between Crowe, who plays the part of former world heavyweight champion James Braddock, and Simmons, with Maple Leaf Gardens filling in as the old Madison Square Garden.

Rising baseball star

On June 2, Hamilton’s Spectator listed Samantha Magalas, 22, among its pick of rising sports stars. She played first base on Canada’s bronze medal-winning team at the 2004 Women’s World Series of Baseball in Edmonton and was judged one of the top 10 players in that tournament. A four-time Athlete of the Year at Assumption Secondary School, she now plays first base for the men’s team at York University, where she is a fourth-year psychology student.

Fund boss by day, Capt. Holland by night

Bill Holland is the CEO of CI Fund Management Inc., one of the biggest non-bank mutual fund companies in Canada, and he’s known around Toronto as refreshingly frank – as well as smart and cynical, began The Globe and Mail’s Patricia Best in her June 2 “Nobody’s Business” column. He’s a self-made millionaire and his tough-guy image is reinforced by the fact that he worked as a bouncer while attending York University (where he earned a BA in 1985). But the financial business is only his day job. By night, he’s a shipping magnate. Holland and several partners, including Ray Chang, CI’s chairman, own three large dry bulk carriers – a type of ship known as a Panamax – that ply the oceans to Asia and, most importantly, fit (only just) through the Panama Canal. The blunt talkin’ Holland says of shipping: “It’s a great way to play China without having to deal with Chinese businesses.” He claims he had the first Asian fund “years ago” and loves the market, if not the players. “If you believe China is the engine of growth over the next 20 years, then it’s a great way to play an emerging country – and it’s a very tax-efficient way to invest, as Paul Martin can attest.”

On air

  • Alice Propper, a sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, commented on how St. Catharine’s does not want Karla Homolka to return when she is released from prison, in a news segment aired on City-tv and CP24-TV June 1.